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Carl Webb
Carl Webb

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04 November 2019 Carl Webb

FMs need to be better prepared for warmer weather, says Carl Webb.

We saw record-breaking seasonal temperatures across parts of the UK this summer and widespread warnings that hot weather was on its way. The same thing occurred in 2018, prompting extreme weather alerts, rail and road closures and other temperature-related carnage.

So why were many FMs seemingly unprepared for the sweltering conditions despite being told they were imminent?

As the mercury rose to almost unprecedented levels, there was an outbreak of FM companies panicking to source appropriate air conditioning equipment for their clients. There is a school of thought that some organisations take a more reactive approach when proactivity, on the face of it, seems a more logical tactic. But why is this?

Like most strands of a business, facilities management costs large sums of money and is consequently regarded as just that – a cost. And as with almost any financial outgoing, an FM budget is subjected to a level of scrutiny that directly encourages a culture to save money wherever possible.

It is said that for most organisations, the only operating costs that exceed those spent on FM are incurred within staff payroll and IT. That goes some way to quantifying its importance to a company but makes the perceived lack of use all the more intriguing. 

An outsider would likely imagine that obtaining a practical cooling solution well ahead of summer would be a priority, particularly given the far-reaching knock-on effects an overheated workforce will have on productivity. 

Of course, the provision and maintenance of climate control equipment is only one faction of facilities management, but there have been countless examples of companies only reacting once high temperatures prove to be a genuine issue.

In an era where commercial cost-cutting appears to be more prevalent than ever, perhaps its not surprising that some organisations would rather forgo pre-emptive measures even when early indications highlight the risks involved – in this scenario, at least.

Carl Webb is UK operations director at Andrews Sykes