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• Technology • Training • Reskilling

The FM industry that is heavily dependent on its workforce, the front runners in the post-covid era, is now facing shortage of skilled manpower. Constrained interactions, limited actual monitoring & supervision and distant interface are weighing heavily on the workforce management of facility services. Speaking on the renewed focus on technology, training and reskilling of workforce, Karan Totlani, Director Corporate Services, Sodexo India, shares his views on the organisational change management with a roadmap into the future.

“A complete shift in terms of capability building and training of workforce will be required to meet client and consumers’ needs.”

Karan Totlani


Q. Displacement of workforce @ pandemic is a major challenge facing the FM industry. What course of action have you planned?
A: The pandemic has forced people to return to their hometowns and this has resulted in a dearth of migrant workforce. However, this also means that local workforce is now more readily available for absorption for the FM companies. An added advantage is the reduced overhead costs which usually includes company-provided accommodation and food for migrant workforce. In fact, FM companies are now faced with a different kind of challenge – that of finding trained/ skilled workers to operate in the new normal environment, mandated by the authorities to keep the pandemic at bay. FM companies need to invest time and money in training their staff in a progressive manner; empower them with the right knowhow to build the confidence of client organisations and their employees.

Q. Would multifunction training become a necessity?
A. The workforce will certainly require re-skilling to be able to align to the requirements of the new normal in post-pandemic times. With client organisations functioning at 50% or even lesser strength, they are looking at leaner and more agile solutions to lower costs and increase efficiency without compromising on quality. This will necessitate the workforce to perform multiple functions in the new technology-based framework. A complete shift in terms of capability building and training will be required to meet the client and consumers’ needs.

Q. Sourcing workforce, giving them basic training, followed by on-job training has been a trend. What changes do you forsee?
A. Sodexo has always believed in encouraging local talent and in fact, we have gone a step ahead by associating with skill development institutes to create infrastructure to train and source local people. Diversey School of Hygiene is one of them. Through the initiative called Garima, we source local talent and provide customised on-the-job training to provide sustainable livelihoods. These cleaning technicians can then join us or any other FM company. The initiative has been running successfully for more than two years now.

Q. Classroom training may no longer be possible for some more months, nor would one-to-one training always be practical. How will the training process change?
A. We have already launched online training classes that rely on virtual reality (VR) to simulate HSE processes for our staff. Through smart glasses, the trainees learn about various aspects of cleaning, as well as about the technology that supports cleaning and technical jobs. Following this, they are posted at on-site locations where they imbibe on-the-job training from their supervisors. This strategy has already been deployed in China and parts of India and has met with great success. This is in addition to the HR e-learning platform that seamlessly delivers training modules from time to time to update/upskill employees.

Q. What new skills will employees have to be trained in?
A: Digital technology has disrupted the workplace. Every process can now be better managed through technology. Consider visitor management as an example. In the traditional set-up, four to five people had to be deployed at the front desk to manage visitors, especially during rush hours, since details about the visitors had to be manually registered. But technology has now made it much easier. Only one or two people are required to monitor and manage the digitized equipment like sensors and scanners that capture all necessary visitor information. The entire process is seamless and disciplined. Similarly, other processes in IFM are digitized and workforce is trained to use this technology and leverage its benefits. A lot of change management efforts are required to sensitize both clients and staff about the rational use and benefits. FM employees will need to be more tech-savvy. They will have to learn the intricacies of software apps that control the digital technology deployed across the workplace – in housekeeping, maintenance, workplace design, food services, etc.

Q. With on-ground supervision constraints, how can one monitor the quality of service provided by the workforce, as well as end-customer experience?
A: Technology is managed through software applications that provide an end-to-end solution for every kind of FM service, and this includes monitoring, feedback, review, to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. Consider washroom cleaning as an example. Sodexo has integrated an app known as Pazo to make the entire operation smooth and seamless. The app brings in complete transparency, and meets client expectations of consistency, productivity and quality. Logging on to the app at any moment shows the status of each washroom in the workplace – occupancy level, frequency of cleaning, person cleaning each washroom, time of cleaning, etc. Clients can also login and register their feedback in terms of satisfaction and complaints. Each complaint can then immediately be addressed. The app takes on the role of the supervisor at the site and does much more than that



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