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First PFM Awards webinar shows partnership working essential to deal with virus

16 December 2020

Expert comment from industry personnel highlights the many positive outcomes provided by collaborative working to deal with the ongoing pandemic.

Andrew Hulbert

Continuing the PFM series of articles to assist readers in dealing with the impact of the Covid-19 virus on FM settings, this report details some of the comments within the first PFM Partnership Awards webinar discussion on the topic of Collaborative working and Covid-19.

Broadcast on 4 November, the date which the PFM Partnership Awards 2020 were initially due to be presented before the emergence of the pandemic, the webinar served to emphasise the essential need of working in partnership in all areas of the FM sector.

This is not only important in the current circumstances but has been shown to be the best means by which to deliver value to FMs, their service provider partners and, perhaps most importantly, those who use facilities or benefit from them in any way.

Collaborative efforts and their benefits were emphasised a number of times within the opening interview with FM Guru consultancy founder Martin Pickard, who generously provided his expert opinion using his 50 years’ experience within the FM sector.

In just a few minutes, Mr Pickard provided both personal advice, thoughts on the current conditions and examples of some highly impressive achievements emerging from the FM sector over the last few months, all of which involved a high level of collaborative effort between industry partners.

His opening comments recognised the exemplary efforts of many of those in the provision of cleaning and security services, further stating that “our hearts have gone out to them on some occasions with some of the challenges they’ve faced”.

Mr Pickard then complimented the many success delivered by FMs and their service partners within the healthcare sector, stating:

“It’s been remarkable what some of those guys have achieved!”

One of the examples provided was that of an NHS Trust director of estates who worked in partnership with a number of suppliers to build a new facility to serve as an A&E entrance that was constructed on top of a former car park following everyone working for 96 hours.

Kerrie Bulcock

Although the project had been discussed previously, it was not expected to be completed for another three years, resulting in Mr Pickard stating: “These guys are pulling off miracles,” in recognition of this and many other projects delivered this year.

He further explained that these successes would not have been possible without engaging in collaborative working practices and delivering the many beneficial outcomes to assist healthcare workers and patients in remaining as safe as possible within high demand and activity areas, such as those seen in many hospitals around the UK.

The challenges faced by FMs and service providers in other sectors were also highlighted by Mr Pickard, particularly the aviation and events industries.

He states that regardless of whether teams have been overworked or facing the challenge of company survival, “everyone in FM has had a difficult year”, he said.

In summary, he confirmed that the advice he provides to the FM sector is the same as it has been for a number of years and emphasising the need for high levels of communication between all parties.

Compared with the alternative of adversarial relationships, which “never succeed”, Mr Pickard explained how communication, honesty, trust and reliability was essential in helping everyone to deal with the current situation and any future developments to come.

His interview was followed by a video appeal from the PFM Awards 2020 charity partner Macmillan Cancer Relief, outlining all the many services it provides to cancer sufferers and their families.

Like many others, Macmillan has seen reduced levels of support this year, making donations through the PFM Awards JustGiving page even more valuable (

Satvir Bungar

In opening the live debate, PFM editor Dennis Flower posed the first question on examples of partnership working in dealing with Covid-19 to two representatives from this year’s PFM Partnership Awards judging panel, namely BDO managing director and head of Facilities Sector Mergers and Acquisitions Satvir Bungar MBE and WeWork director of operations UK, Ireland and emerging markets Kerrie Bulcock.

While Ms Bulcock judged the PFM Awards for the first time this year, Mr Bungar has been a valued member of the independent judging panel for the past three years. Having judged the Partners in Cleaning categories for PFM Awards 2020, Mr Bungar provided examples of the entries he had seen within entrants’ presentations.

These included various instances where considerable changes had been introduced into the FM cleaning schedules following in-depth collaboration with FM clients, resulting in improved levels of safety and, in some cases, reduced cost of service delivery.

Ms Bulcock had judged the Partners in International FM and although none of the entries mentioned specific actions to combat Covid-19, the exemplary standards of partnership working meant that many of the joint actions could be used or adapted accordingly.

One example provided was the introduction of app-based technology, which offered numerous options for improved service delivery and could easily be adapted to assist in making workplaces Covid-19 compliant, she said.

The panel additionally included Zoological Society London (ZSL) principal lead, estates and masterplanning Simon Francis, following his organisation being announced as a winner in the PFM Partnership Awards 2019 for their high standards of collaborative working with Pareto FM.

He was joined by Pareto FM managing director Andrew Hulbert, who added to the comments of Mr Francis in replying to the question on how their close working relationship had helped them to deal with developments driven by the emergence of the Coronavirus.

Mr Francis stated that the depth of his organisation’s relationship with Pareto FM was shown by the fact that “within minutes of the new lockdown being announced” a few days before the PFM Awards webinar, he had received a message from the company offering to work with him in the best way to deal with this.

He had not had to become involved in any contractual or adversarial discussions and had instead enjoyed offers of assistance from Pareto FM to adapt and help in any it could.

Simon Francis

He further stated that although ZSL was aware that they had a good level of collaboration with their service provider, the events of this year had “really brought home what a strong relationship we have”, said Mr Francis.

Mr Hulbert further emphasised that both ZSL and his company worked as a single entity and approached all issues with a joint mentality: “If you establish good relations with clients in the good times then you start in a good position during the bad times,” he explained, which can then be used by both sides to find the best way in moving forward and dealing with any future developments.

The ZSL and Pareto FM entry had been judged by Mr Bungar last year, and he followed Mr Hulbert’s comments by stating that it was very noticeable that within this entry and those he had judged this year, it was very noticeable that those who had made the effort to establish strong relationships in the years prior to the emergence of the Coronavirus had been able to adapt to the 2020 requirements more easily than those who had not.

The four panel members continued to answer a range of questions posed by webinar attendees, ranging from how the virus has changed the future of building operations and the importance of standardising Covid-19 strategies for international organisations, to thoughts on how social elements will be included within contracts in future, following the impacts of the virus.

Each of the four panel members provided numerous in-depth responses, all of which can be heard in full by clicking on

PFM Awards live debate panel members

Simon Francis, principal lead, estates and masterplanning at Zoological Society London (ZSL);

Kerrie Bulcock, WeWork director of operations, UK, Ireland & Emerging Markets;

Satvir Bungar MBE, BDO managing director and head of Facilities Sector Mergers and Acquisitions;

Andrew Hulbert, managing director of Pareto FM.

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