9 February 2017 | Martin Read
For the sake of avoiding a sea of pure speculation, this column has steered well clear of Brexit since last June.
But the triggering of Article 50 (and who knew what that phrase meant this time last year?) will bring Brexit to life, putting at least a semblance of a deadline on implementation. What's more, FM is likely to be as heavily exposed to Brexit as any sector, not least in the client-provider market.
We're told that we can expect a 'great repeal act', an event that will in fact do the opposite of what it says on the tin and simply rebadge European as British. But that's just a holding position. Then the fun really begins.
Take TUPE. The law covering employment rights in outsourcing contracts is the UK's implementation of the European Union's Acquired Rights Directive. And actually, as with so many EU directives over the years, we British took what the EU stipulated and did more than was strictly necessary. Our TUPE has more protective power than its implementation in other EU member states, applying as it does beyond a client's initial outsourcing arrangement to include the transfer of rights to any next generation outsourcing contracts that subsequently follow. I'm no betting man, but in a full-on hard Brexit world with the UK government seeking to it would surely be no surprise if we saw a loosening up of this particular legislation.
There'll be more like this, in particular around contract law where the commercial impact of any legislative change is often absorbed by the supplier.
All of this before any mention of what leaving the single market means to the cleaning, catering and security staff on the facilities service frontline.
So, to recap: contractual obligation and staffing - the two most critical components of any FM deal, each likely to be affected dramatically.
And that's not all. We need to add to the mix this age of technological change profound enough to affect the client-provider paradigm in itself.
Brexit uncertainty has, until now, been matched by Brexit stasis. But with a deadline in place, it's easy to envisage FM taking a high profile role in the reshaping of the British economy.
Martin Read is editor of FM World