The emergence of COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of a unique class of employees in both the public and private sectors, otherwise known as essential workers; facility managers are in the same category.
Facility management is defined by the International Standards Organization (ISO) as an organizational function that integrates people, place, and process within the built environment with the purpose of improving the quality of life of people and the productivity of the core business.
In the wake of the pandemic, change is imminent, and industries everywhere have responded differently which means Facility managers across the globe and especially in Nigeria must rise above the standard bolt and nut approach to live up to its core mission.
The New Normal
The Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) stated in its 2019 Nigeria report that the office property sector has been on a steady rise for the last five years, but during this pandemic, there has been emphasis placed on remote work. The retail property sector had to adjust to creating HSE initiatives to protect themselves and their clients.
Irrespective of the changes an organization makes during the pandemic, the responsibility lies with facilities management teams to take measures to implement the correct prevention and control strategies in the workplace thereby ensuring the buildings they manage remain safe and operational.
As we move forward, Eliezer Workplace Management believes the role of FM services providers will have to become more tactical and continuing in nature leveraging on digitalization and performance management.
One of the biggest impacts of the pandemic is the shift to remote work to enforce the social distancing rule. Given that this scenario has been our new normal for months now, it is highly unlikely that we will all go back to the same landscape office as the ease in restrictions continues, therefore there is a growing need for automating FM business processes.
Smart Technology will bring efficiency to services ranging from after construction-clean up, service requests, and maintenance, to energy management or workspace customization.
While digitalization should be applied to all processes in FM, Eliezer Workplace Management is of the opinion that given the uniqueness of Nigeria’s climate that security, Health, and safety should be the focus of digitalisation in facilities management in Nigeria. For example, more virtual-based surveillance like drones and CCTV can be used to support physical security as building security assessment is carried out.
The uniqueness and benefit of digitalization or technology is that it answers the question every organization has about FM, which is normally How will FM contribute to the bottom line of my organization?
The answer is that technology aids employee’s productivity, enhances employee safety which then leads to business profitability.
Bill van loan president of President of Critical Systems, LLC, highlighted this when he was showing the benefit of the aspirating smoke system he said, in a commercial building having 100 conventional addressable, analog smoke detectors will have to run test on them individually every year which will require lot of man-hour and hence high labor cost.
While that same building using the aspirating smoke system can test from the central unit and be done in 15 minutes which saves man-hour and labor cost. We must capitalize on information and proper analytics for better decision making, capital planning, and improving the workplace experience for employees and clients alike.
Performance management in FM usually takes the form of KPIs, benchmarking and SLAs, but with the call for digitalisation & technology, a more integrated approach is necessary as organisations are also changing the scale used to determine the quality of service expected from their FM’s.
The first step to performance management has a complete picture of one’s task force (subcontractors, vendors, and employees). Therefore, it is critical to establish a centralised, multidisciplinary & synergised task force, but what is the best way to set up this task force?
Eliezer Workplace management recommends using predictive & people analytics as it aids in combining data with decision-making by identifying the strengths & weaknesses of employees by analysing data and client feedback.
It is also vital that SLA clearly defined with indicators (KPIs) and metrics geared towards operational excellence and quality as published by Deloitte in the article “Impact of COVID-19 on Facilities Management”. For example, a facility manager’s KPI for HVAC system maintenance was initially delivery or response time, whereas now it will be air quality.
The changes in the professional landscape will impact the way we work; hence, performance management is essential if FM’s are to ensure they are operating at their peak.
The Nigeria Facility Management industry is Forecasted to be worth 12.7 billion dollars by 2027. If this budding industry is to live up to this forecast, we can conclude that the FM industry will have come up with new and creative processes to handle the ever-changing professional landscape.
It is also important that facility managers use this time to research trends and International best practices as our workplace keep evolving.