Ten years ago, in a time before the then BIFM awards routinely recognised the achievements of up and coming FMs, we at what was FM World magazine set out to identify a group of 40 individuals representative of the future face of workplace and facilities management. The limit was on experience rather than age, in this case no more than 10 years’ of working in the sector; we wanted to find people demonstrating significant achievement in a relatively short space of time.
One such Rising Star of FM was Kate Morris-Bates, head of facilities management shared services at the Co-operative Group, and now senior workplace and facilities management specialist. A decade later, we ask Morris-Bates about their personal progress and the evolution of the profession.
What do you remember about 2012 – and if you could, what would you warn your 2012 self about?
2012 was a year full of optimism, pride and clarity of vision for myself and for my team and our supplier partners. We were part way through delivering 1 Angel Square, were making waves with our award-winning FM strategy and were challengers to conventional FM thinking.
I’d warn my 2012 self to prioritise personal wellbeing, to be more alert to the signs of burnout and to have a more balanced approach to work and home life.
What makes you excited about the workplace and facilities management profession? How has this changed from when you began your career?
The irreversible shift towards hybrid working, technological advances and focus on the ESG agenda makes for exciting times for those who see beyond the boundaries of traditional FM. Emerging thinking about FM as a driver of workplace and customer experience is also a reason to be excited; it is the linchpin between HR, IT and FM at the heart of organisational culture. My team was talking about this in 2012, so it is encouraging to see more client-side teams embracing this.
How have your expectations of workplace and FM evolved? And what do you think the profession needs to do next?
My expectations of workplace and FM have not evolved significantly; I have always held ambitious beliefs about what this sector can and should contribute to organisational performance and the voice it should have in the boardroom as an influencer and executor of strategic change and impact. The profession needs to step into a space where client-side FM directors are collaborating on design and delivery of the workplace and customer experience, underpinning organisational performance objectives.
What is the most pressing challenge facing the industry?
The industry is subject to the same pressures and challenges as other industries – rising supply chain costs, competition for top talent, filling vacancies, inflation, cost of living crisis, ESG. The people-centric nature of FM means these pressures are felt acutely. There are some sector-specific challenges outside of this macro picture, namely what appears to be “stuckness” in creative thinking. It is interesting that many of the key FM thought-influencers of a decade or more ago, remain the key influencers today.
What are your top three focus points currently and why?
- Supporting leaders to challenge themselves, the industry, and their clients to create ambitious visions about what FM can contribute to the workplace and customer experience and ultimately improve business performance;
- Working with leaders and senior teams both client and supplier side who want to drive genuine transformation to challenge themselves to think and act outside the traditional FM box; and
- Promoting leadership behaviours which focus on strengths and performance levers as a way of transforming the sector.
If you change nothing, nothing changes.
To what extent have the behaviours and attitudes of your clients changed in the last decade?
Because of the pandemic, understanding and endorsement of hybrid working is the most obvious change over the past decade, “forced” by lockdown. Whilst I don’t think the pendulum has quite settled yet on hybrid working, we have clearly moved beyond where this is seen as an indulgent/nice to have workplace solution. ESG and DE&I have also moved rapidly up the agenda, and it is encouraging to see how many tenders now ask for a statement from prospective suppliers on this.
Reacquaint yourself with our other Rising Stars of FM
- Martin Bell
- Annette Best
- Ryan Botta
- Dean Botten
- Will Bowen
- Peter Burnell-Jones
- Helen Cooper
- Martin Frohock
- Jason Gurd
- Adrian Harris
- Herbie Hawes
- Daniel Hawkins
- Andrew Hulbert
- Ryan Jarman
- Annie Karastoyanova
- Stephanie Kendall
- Ben Luvaglio
- Darren Raczkowski
- Tom Robinson
- Rishi Sharma
- Tristam Slater
- Kate Smith
- Will Tyler
- Clifford Yeend