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Maintaining the FM focus and assisting delivery of agile working

Author : Steve Henigan, director, Henigan Consulting Group

13 March 2018

Many feel that the FM sector has become obsessed with artificial intelligence and topics including automation of process and equipment, loss of jobs, cyber security and others.

But before we try to understand the what, when and how of tomorrow's technology perhaps we should pay a little more attention to technology that has radically changed the office today, the technology that arrived yesterday.

In 2007 Apple presented us with the Iphone. This and the other smartphones, tablets and mobile devices that have saturated the market in the last decade have already significantly changed the way we live and work.

On a personal level there is no longer a need for the AA map on the back-parcel shelf or the expensive camera when we go on holiday. Into work mode and we can check our emails from our bed and dial into our meetings from the beach.

The way we work and the physical facilities we require to do this is evolving. The 9-5 culture is a distant memory, the 24/7 culture is here to stay, always switched on and equipped to work and play.

As people spend less time at their desk and the physical office it is becoming harder for organisations to ignore the business case for agile working.

As they strive to keep up in the war for talent whilst ensuring they demonstrate value and efficiency in their real estate portfolio, the agile word is whispered in more and more board rooms.

The concept of agile working should be seen simply as providing teams with the rich and shared variety of work settings and environments that they need to work effectively.

This is supported by providing a culture where they can work more flexibly in other location and with alternative hours.

So, what does this mean for FM? Firstly, there are the physical challenges of running a 24/7 building with less visibility of occupancy;


• How do you clean out of hours when there are no hours?

• How often do you clean workstations and settings that are shared?

Steve Henigan
Steve Henigan


• How do you forecast product orders when you don’t know how many people are going to be in the building?

• Does breakfast really end at 10.30am?

Heating and Ventilation

• How do you keep everyone comfortable when you don’t know how many will be there?

• Are the standards really designed for an agile working building?

Challenges, yes, but nothing that cannot be resolved through collaboration between client and their providers and a structured change management programme for the client’s employees.

The biggest challenge is the new mindset that is required. The more progressive organisations and their providers are taking inspiration from the hospitality sector.

Serving guests and not users, providing an experience and not a facility. When you stay in a hotel the cleaning is completed when you choose not to be in the room.

The room service is brought to the room when you are hungry not at the pre-set meal times. Initiatives that are driven from a customer-centric model and contribute to the employee experience that so many organisations now want to provide.

So as yesterday’s technology continues to drive the agile work agenda let’s make sure that we don’t lose sight of FM’s pivotal role in providing the desired employee experience.

As real estate footprint can be reduced or rationalised and significant savings realised, we need to ensure that the right amount is provisioned to the business case for providing our new customer-centric FM support.

Steve Henigan is a director of Henigan Consulting Group

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