08 January 2017 | Martin Read
Martin Read looks ahead to the new year in FM, and reflects on changes that need to be made moving forward in 2018.
The passing of one year into the next is typically a time to remark on the broader factors set to affect the way we operate in the twelve months ahead. More often than not, these come in the form of path-correcting legislative updates, new standards, or the growing adoption of existing themes such as worker wellbeing, the Internet of Things and gender equality. But the beginning of the new calendar year is typically just an opportune date around which to "take stock" of these and other issues; much of what we're set to see is already common knowledge, its likely impact easy to assess.
For two pretty significant reasons, 2018 has to be seen as a bit different. Yes, the broad themes will continue to colour our content, with wellbeing in all its manifestations key among them. But there's no doubt that 2018 will focus minds as never before on the importance, relevance, operation and delivery of facilities management. Firstly, there's Brexit: we're set for a year of drama as the critical labour issue of falling migration put the subject of low pay firmly in the headlines. These and other issues are likely to thrust the cost and value of facilities services in to the glare of the media spotlight. It's good to see BIFM engaged in putting its assessment of the likely impacts to government.
Then there's joint employment. Should those who provide facilities services as the direct employees of FM service providers be seen as jointly employed by the clients those providers serve? That's a pretty significant question, and one being asked in a landmark test case that could, should the answer be 'yes', dramatically alter the relationship between client and contractor. The entire market for facilities services could be affected at a stroke.
It's good that we have these issues to refresh the conversation about how facilities services are delivered - issues with more immediate substance to them than, for instance, the ongoing and gradual change effected by the technological revolution. Too often in the past, FM as a sector has been infuriatingly absent from debates about some pretty significant macro-economic affairs. What constitutes the value of facilities management can and should be at the heart of these discussions in the year ahead.
Martin Read is editor of FM World