During the Covid-19 crisis, the adjustments of contracts with suppliers and subcontractors were little to none, especially for organisations that are bound by public procurement legislation, such as hospitals and postal services; it is not easy to adjust a contract on an ad-hoc basis. On the other hand, we noted that suppliers and subcontractors have also been willing to offer a high degree of flexibility with regard to operational execution.
The enhanced Covid protocols encompass several measures related to health and safety for all facility management teams, security protocols, thermal scanners, and deep sanitization, etc., which could spike up maintenance costs.
We will see an increase in FM spends in the next couple of years at least. The focus will be on hygiene, adopting the latest technologies to ensure cleanliness and ensuring zero Covid cases in facilities. The investment will be on additional trained staff, procurement of the latest chemicals/disinfectants, equipment, tools, and technologies. Another area responsible for this increase is regular disinfection activities to ensure minimise transmission.
Many customers have recognised the good work done by the FM frontline warriors and have been incentivising them on a regular basis over and above their salary; this has increased the budget on the customer end but productivity has also increased due to enhanced motivation levels, which will have some impact on the budget as well.
I believe that the flexibility and innovation of the supplier/FM partner will play a vital role in getting selected as a (new) facility services partner in the near future. The pricing model will for sure play a major role during these challenging times, but flexibility and sustainability will become more important since safety of end users as well as service partners shall be the single most important yardstick which will influence decision-making.
The pandemic also accelerated the pace of technological adoption across the built environment, and especially within the FM market. Technology is already playing a massive role in the way the FM clients are serviced. For example, capturing and analysing data through training and operations, and performance rating modules which give a precise report for every employee on the basis of the quality of work and training needs.
If there’s one thing Covid has brought to the forefront, it’s remote monitoring. Fortunately, facility managers have IoT on their side. Sensor technology has almost endless applications in FM, including asset tagging, lighting, fire suppression, security, inventory management, and equipment monitoring.
The evolution of workplace practices is creating an opportunity for facility managers to leverage tech-enhanced services to attract a premium, generating cost savings and operational efficiencies at the same time.
“We will see an increase in FM spends in the next couple of years at least. The focus will be on hygiene, adopting the latest technologies to ensure cleanliness and ensuring zero Covid cases in facilities.”
Country Head & Wholetime Director, G4S Facility Services
Pre-Covid vis-à-vis post-Covid
Earlier, FM used to be primarily focused on general upkeep, security and maintenance of facilities, but post-Covid, the level of sanitisation, hygiene, ensuring a safe secure work environment, mitigating transmission/contamination of facilities has moved to centre-stage.
Challenges seen in a nutshell:
- The first problem is training the unskilled manpower to adapt to systems and processes to run a professional FM service, and the second problem is the retention of manpower as the unskilled staff is highly prone to switching jobs.
- The other challenge in India today is the market perception and acceptance of unorganised players.
Changes in customer-facing and internal SOPs
- Leaner team which is well-equipped, empowered and fully trained
- No OT to avoid extra cost, achieved with minor changes in SoW to meet the daily deadlines
- Regular employee engagement activities to enhance motivation levels and productivity
- Smart initiatives at site to bring down the cost per square foot.
We also carry out regular inspection of equipment, which helps to remove unwanted or outdated equipment and also helps detect areas that might be potentially dangerous to the building along with software up-gradation, repairing equipment, reinstallation of equipment, eliminating possible machinery defects, etc. This also helps save extra cost that otherwise would have to be spent on managing damages and control.
What lies ahead
The market will soon witness greater demand for quality services that shall abide by international standards, which could also mean that the smaller unorganised sector will merge with the large players in the market. Value creation will gain importance. Outsourcing partnerships will become the norm.