The annual Workplace Futures conference has become something of a 'traditional curtain-raiser' to the FM conference year. FM World was on hand at The Crystal in London to pick out the key quotes from an entertaining day
26 February 2015
"There's a new level of FM, and that's tactical," said Leesman Index CEO Tim Oldman; "and at the moment, that's the complete reserve of the international property consultancies.
As for discussing workplace priorities with clients, "the challenge is in moving away from pressing the cost reduction button - and to concentrate on productivity."
What is it that workers are actually doing? "Only when you know that can you arrange to provide the optimal facilities."
HR consultant Perry Timms, who is involved in the Workplace Conversation project, said that those running the workplace in the future will need to "constantly learn, adapt and change; to become the HR futurologist and predict what the workforce and workplace needs to be like".
"Those who design and manage buildings don't talk enough to people in the workplace... it's not about feng shui, but there needs to be a flow in the organisation; those who design and manage them need to be more adventurous. We could be more arty and less functional about the places we design for work."
Jones Lang Lasalle's Gareth Hollyman reported that he was seeing a 'blurring of the lines' between what was once the traditional building surveyor environment and the FM function.
"Communication with the client is key. Are they just running the lease out or planning for a more long-term commitment? Ten years ago we wouldn't have known what the plans were for an individual property - today, these kind of conversations are happening more often."
Paul Foster, principal technology evangelist for Microsoft, opened the day by telling delegates that they needed to be aware of the impact that access to huge levels of performance data would bring, putting themselves in a position to better understand the building data and ensure facilities are more effectively run.
"We should not just look at the raw data but see how we can understand it better in the context of our environment," he said.
BAM FM's MD Kath Fontana pointed to a number of opportunities and threats. On the plus side, "we're finally seeing integrated partnership contracts, with design & construction contracts integrating the maintenance requirement for the years ahead." Pointing to the potential for market growth in the public sector, Fontana spoke of the impending 2016 deadline after which building information management (BIM) will become mandatory for central government new build projects.
"Really we should be talking about DIM - digital information management - because for construction and FM firms, that's what this issue is about." Also, said Fontana, many construction businesses "think they can do this FM stuff - and many can. Two-thirds of Carillion's business is FM, and it's delivering 6 per cent margin for them."
Larch Consulting's Mike Cant spoke of how people in the FM sector are "incredibly passionate, and incredibly overt about that passion".
"We are starting to lose the simplicity of objective that our industry needs to have," said Cant. "We need to look a little more carefully at how we're structuring our sector - and I think that at present we are inadvertently going in the wrong direction."
What FM operators needed to do, said Cant, was work back from a client's core requirement and provide the total operational support that such an exercise would identify.
"Let us identify the point of expertise and provide the environment around that."
However, doing this would involve different organisational structures and entirely new forms of conversations with clients. For instance, said Cant: "Why are we restricting ourselves to talking about property? What we actually provide is behaviour-led management and support."
Effective Facilities' Dave Wilson expressed concern that we in the UK were world leaders without question in everthing but tertiary education. "Why haven't we exported all that expertise much more successfully than we have?" He also warned that supply chain managers were openly talking about the interface between customers and suppliers - "That's our turf," he suggested.
"Today our assets talk to us like teenagers"
Emcor's CIO Jonathan Ivelaw-Chapman on how building assets now talk to us in a language of their own, and at all times of day and night.
"Bolting on FM capability is so simple for them - and it adds value in a way that would scare you"
Tim Oldman on the potential for international CRE firms to out-compete FM providers.
"You know what your friends like to drink - what about your clients?"
Macro MD Debra Ward helps defines the emotional response separating customer satisfaction from customer delight.
"There seems to be an anti-KPI thing going on these days. I'm a huge fan of them - but they have to be the right ones"
Martin Pickard, conference chair
"Culture will eat strategy for breakfast every day"
Gary Kidd, COO of ISS Services
"There's nothing more constant than change in the FM market"
Jones Lang Lasalle's Gareth Hollyman
"Construction businesses now believe they can do this FM stuff - and many of them can."
BAM's Kath Fontana identifies another threat to FM service providers.
"Let us identify our client's point of expertise and provide the environment around that"
Consultant Mike Cant attempts to paint a bigger picture for FM.
"Data without context is just numbers"
Microsoft's Paul Foster asks - what are the datasets that we want to exist?