hands holding a heart with medical white cross

These healthcare trends are changing FM

In this time of economic uncertainty, the healthcare industry is not alone in facing the dual challenges of change and increasing costs. Taking a strategic approach to the often extensive real estate portfolios owned within the healthcare industry and optimising the efficiency of facilities management is vital in order to stay ahead.

Here, we take a look at some of the current healthcare trends affecting facility management.

1.      A high level of merger and acquisition activity is changing the approach to construction and real estate

In the past few years, the healthcare industry has witnessed unprecedented M&A activity, which has led to several cross-industry collaborations with non-traditional healthcare providers, faith-based organisations and pharmaceutical companies. Such consolidation is creating mega health systems, all of which will require a fresh approach to facilities management.

2.      Operating margins are tightening as costs-per-patient increase

While it is a constant source of political debate, it remains the case that healthcare providers are continuing to face cost pressures and the continuing need to balance patient care with tighter and tighter budget constraints. Improving outcomes for those at the receiving end of healthcare services, of course, remains the key priority across the industry, off-set against the need to find creative ways to reduce costs wherever possible. Facilities management is not immune.

3.      As the healthcare system evolves, traditional hospital networks could become obsolete

The many changes happening across the healthcare sector will undoubtedly mean changes to the approach taken towards real estate and its future management.

For example, the merger of different institutions combined with an increase in service provision from other providers is likely to mean a reduction in large all-encompassing hospital buildings as we see a move towards greater use of ambulatory surgeries, emergency clinics and micro-hospitals based within local communities.

With the aim of reaching local residents easily and addressing their health issues early within their local community, the hope for the future is to reduce the number of people developing acute illnesses which then require expensive treatment in a large, centralised facility. From a healthcare perspective, prevention is better than cure and most patients would prefer to receive treatment near their own homes. As such, the provision of localised facilities is likely to be a welcome progression for the future.

In addition to, most importantly, improving the overall patient experience, smaller outpatient centres are less expensive to build and maintain than traditional, larger hospital buildings. However, the management of such a diverse portfolio of buildings in various locations brings with it new challenges in terms of the ongoing management of each facility.

4.      The risk of hospital-acquired infections is still real

While receiving treatment for other health issues, there remains a risk of patients picking up further infections through simply being in a healthcare environment. As a result, there is a duty on those responsible for the management of buildings to look at what can be done with the physical environment to reduce the risk and spread of infections.

This may include the design and maintenance of buildings, from ventilation systems through to interior design.

Fresh thinking and embracing new technologies will be key to the future of FM in this industry as it supports the health of the population.


Blog - Catch 22

Crown Commercial Service Framework for Non Clinical Staff selects Catch 22

Catch 22 is delighted to confirm that we have been selected for the new Crown Commercial Service (CCS) Framework for non-clinical staff across the NHS and a wide variety of governmental and public sector organisations. The new Framework, which comes into force in August, sees our continued association with the CCS, in its various guises, that began in 2006. Indeed, Catch 22 has been supplying support staff to the NHS since its inception in 1982 and our appointment to the Framework underlines Catch 22’s continuous commitment to delivering excellence. Organisations able to take advantage of the benefits of the Framework include the Emergency Services, the education sector, civil service and government departments, amongst many others. Clients can select their suppliers with confidence, knowing that rigorous compliance criteria have been met and that costs are transparent throughout the process.

Catch 22’s managing director, Vince Parker, said “Being selected for a position on the CCS Framework reflects the high standards we continue to achieve and improve in our service. It is very gratifying to have those efforts acknowledged in this way and we look forward to offering our services to a wider NHS and public sector audience.”


Engineers in the sun

How to protect workers when the temperature rises!

Employers are expected to provide a reasonable working environment for their employees. The recommended temperature should be set at a minimum of 16°C, or 13°C for work requiring heavy lifting. Heating and cooling systems should be provided if a comfortable temperature cannot be maintained, for example, fans should be used and windows should be opened to allow air to circulate if needed.

Employees should never be in a situation where they are too hot. The appropriate shade should be added if any team members are sitting in direct sunlight or in the vicinity of objects that give off heat, for example, machinery or other equipment. engineers working in the sun

In a warm atmosphere, sufficient breaks should be provided to allow staff to cool down. They should also have access to cold drinks, for example, many businesses provide water coolers or vending machines for the comfort of their workforce. Depending on individual circumstances, it may also be appropriate to introduce a system of working in order to limit exposure to extremes of heat. This could include job rotation or moving workstations. It may also include flexible working patterns.

Heat-related illnesses can increase the number of accidents at work. High temperatures in the working environment can cause lethargy and lead to poor concentration, which increases the potential for personal injury in the workplace. Extremes of temperature can also give rise to poor judgement and this is especially risky when employees’ jobs require them to operate machinery or work with tools or harsh chemicals.

Facilities management can oversee conditions in the workplace and can make recommendations for improvement. Some companies may require specific advice, particularly if workers are exposed to extremes of temperature. If employees are experiencing ill effects due to the working environment, then the situation requires urgent review to ensure that the relevant precautions are taken.

Conditions may require close monitoring and any incidents must be recorded as outlined by health and safety legislation. Monitoring or medical screening may be needed for workers who have certain illnesses or disabilities, in addition to any women who are pregnant. This is of particular importance when exposed to extremes of temperature and medical advice may be necessary.

A visible focus on the safety of all employees can only serve to enhance the firm's reputation and employer branding. This, in turn, may enhance applicant volumes for new positions. For those already in-role, there will be a sense that their welfare is regarded as a high priority and retention rates should improve as a result. Overall, a strong focus on working conditions creates a more positive working environment for everyone within the organisation.

It is important to remember that illnesses caused by temperature increases can affect office workers too, in addition to drivers and staff who are based on site. It is essential to ensure that all workers, whether exposed to sunlight or extremes of temperatures, benefit from safe and comfortable working conditions and that any risks are managed.

Ultimately, it is vital that any firm is proactive when it comes to temperature management and that the in-house risk assessment systems are fully effective.


24/7

What the 'on-demand' era means for facilities management

New digital platforms mean that changes are afoot for the building industry, especially when it comes to some of the traditional processes that have been used in facilities management for decades. With digital platforms come on-demand requests, which can mean a better (and cheaper) service for the companies that own a building or facility. But how can firms in the facilities management industry adapt to these changes and make on-demand jobs work for them?

What is on-demand?

Businesses have long been able to book certain aspects of their operations 'on-demand'. That includes catering, IT support and even people. On-demand generally refers to booking something online at short notice and not having to book it as part of a longer or larger contract. 24/7

With the rise of digital platforms, specifically built for companies to find facilities and building services, those in charge of booking the work are now able to book actions such as repairs quickly and easily. They can be given full costs, track delivery of the required materials and even make changes to the job where necessary.

What are the benefits?

These platforms certainly make life easier for the company booking the work, as they can take advantage of competitive pricing, guaranteed timeframes and tailored jobs. Buildings themselves are becoming ever more complex with the addition of AI and smart technology being just one example and the use of innovative building materials being another [1].

The result is that many building management jobs are becoming rather more niche. Digital platforms can make it easier to link the right person for the job and ensure the right materials and parts are ordered in time. On-demand services are also preferable for small businesses who can pay per service without the added cost of a subscription.

Some of the more advanced platforms can even be populated with specific information such as staff working hours and skill areas. This means that jobs can be booked by cross-sectioning who is available via an easy to use online booking system, which can find the right team or individual for the job.

What this means for the facilities management industry

These platforms are primarily used for ad-hoc building management and repair jobs, but they can also be used for booking jobs with companies with which you have a contract or ongoing relationship. In fact, bespoke versions of these platforms can even be used by larger businesses and organisations, such as universities, who can book jobs with their own in-house facilities management teams.

These platforms will hold building services companies to account as they'll need to ensure that staff is properly trained and skilled in key areas, so in that way, the platforms can motivate facilities and building firms to stay on top of training and recruitment. It also means that jobs need to be finished on time and can be tracked and priced more easily.

The use of on-demand digital platforms can ultimately be of benefit not just to the companies looking to book facilities management services, but also to those businesses that offer their services too as it forces them to continually strive to improve.

[1] https://www.viatechnik.com/blog/advanced-buildings-construction-industry/


Stress at work

How FM managers can tackle stress levels

In such a fast-paced industry, with ever-evolving demands, pressures and seemingly never enough hours in the day, it is perhaps unsurprising that Facility Managers are reporting increasing stress levels.Stress at work

Of course, many jobs are stressful and stress isn’t always necessarily a bad thing, but recent research has found that for facilities managers at least, stress levels have tended to increase over the course of a career. This could be attributable, in part, to increasing seniority and additional responsibility, but it may equally be symptomatic of the fact that facilities management is a demanding industry, with a variety of challenges and on many occasions, limited budgets and resources with which to work.

Indeed, many Facilities Managers are increasingly being asked to provide better results with less money and support. In such a competitive marketplace, there is always the fear that if you don’t perform optimally, someone will be waiting in the wings to take over.

That is not to say that everything about the industry is negative; quite the contrary. Many Facilities Managers report enjoying and thriving on the challenges inherent in the role. There is also a school of thought that suggests that stress itself is not necessarily a bad thing, it is how we respond to this stress that is key.

If harnessed correctly, stress can be used to your advantage and help you to excel. Stress is a natural reaction left over from ancient times when it allowed us to be on our guard against wild animals or other dangers. The heightened awareness and racing pulse it can trigger prime the body to fight or flight as needed. Of course, if prolonged, neither of those elements are ideal for your longer-term health.

However, recognising when you are stressed and identifying how your body is naturally reacting to it is a vital first step in dealing with stress. Instead of getting carried along on a wave of adrenalin, step back from the situation and recognise that although important, it is not a case of life and death. This can help give some much-needed perspective.

It is also useful to appreciate why you are having a stress response and to potentially capitalise on the focus and clarity it can give you. Long term, chronic stress is not helpful, but short term, it can be harnessed to allow you to focus more closely on the task at hand and solve problems quickly.

Another useful tip is to recognise your personal reaction to stress. Do you fight, flight or freeze up? Try and track your behaviour and then see if you can alter your pattern to have a more beneficial response to stress. Think of a time where you were challenged or stressed but worked through it to solve a problem or overcome a hurdle. Remember ways in which you made a stressful response work in your favour and then strive to replicate this every time you feel yourself entering a stressful period.


Why councils are bringing FM and other services back in-house

Why councils are bringing FM and other services back in-house

First rolled out under Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, with the introduction of compulsory competitive tendering, the outsourcing of public sector services gradually gained in popularity. It subsequently transitioned into a frenzy of outsourced contracts throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.

Simply put, outsourcing is an arrangement in which a public sector organisation or local council allows a private company to run a particular service on its behalf. Everything from leisure centres and libraries to IT services and facilities management has been outsourced, with varying degrees of success.

Outsourcing giants such as Serco, Capita and Kier built business empires on delivering services on the public sector’s behalf. Promising huge cost savings, improved performance and increased efficiencies, private companies took on a range of valuable contracts, to mixed reception.

While many outsourcing partnerships have worked very well and delivered valuable savings, there have also been some notable disasters, where not only have services been poorly delivered, but they have ended up costing public sector organisations dearly.

Against this backdrop, there has been a shift in the attitude towards outsourcing, with contracts not being renewed and many services being bought back in-house.

In this age of austerity, public sector bodies need to manage their budgets more closely than ever before and this has brought the spotlight to bear on outsourced contracts. Councils, in particular, simply cannot afford to sign up to lengthy contracts that may not deliver the cost savings they so desperately need.

In fact, a recent report from the Association for Public Service Excellence has found that many local councils are planning to bring outsourced services back in-house. Known as insourcing, this will see councils take back control of elements such as catering, waste management or building services.

For many councils, insourcing provides a great way to save costs and become more efficient. Ironically, this is exactly what the outsourcing of services was meant to provide in the first place.

The same report from the APSE also found that nearly 80% of councils believe that insourcing will allow them to be more flexible, with two-thirds hoping it will save them money.

In addition, insourcing can provide better pay, working conditions and benefits for employees, as well as improving relationships with unions. It can certainly be argued that by running services themselves, councils can ensure that public money is kept in the local economy, ensuring that they work with local businesses where relevant to help fuel the local economy.

However, it is not always the council’s choice to insource. In some cases, private companies are walking away from deals as they no longer see them as profitable.

However, some councils are really turning the tables and going a step further, setting up their own trading companies to help drive further revenue which can be put back into frontline services.

It certainly seems as though the heydays of outsourcing are drawing to a close, with a marked shift to insourcing. Whether this trend continues remains to be seen, but for the time being at least, insourcing seems set to become the dominant approach.


How to keep a sustainable building green text over image

How to keep a sustainable building green!

You may think that by operating in a sustainable building, your business has met its obligations in terms of helping to create a greener environment and that you can sit back and let the building operations in a sustainable way.

This is not the case. A sustainable building and business will require continuous attention to ensure it remains sustainable today, tomorrow and into the future.

Constructing or renovating a building to obtain the green building certificate Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the first phase of becoming an environmentally friendly business. The next phase will require the monitoring of the business to ensure it continues to meet such standards.

This could entail monitoring waste levels to ensure it remains below a previously specified level. However, previously set targets can also be improved upon. The continuous monitoring of waste could help to identify areas where changes could be made that could increase recycling, which would decrease landfill waste and in turn lead to cost-savings, meaning both the business and the environment would come out as winners.

By monitoring and attempting to increase the company’s use of recyclable materials, more of the company’s waste could be found to be suitable for recycling.

From the outset, the business will need to identify how best to measure its operations, which would become a baseline and help to flag up any problems in maintaining its sustainability levels. It would also help to measure the success of any changes that are made with a view to improving the company’s sustainability.

A facilities manager (FM), who may be in charge of one building or multiple buildings, will need to deploy software to monitor the performance of operations in various locations. Some companies provide benchmark tools which can be utilised to measure the consumption of water, energy and greenhouse gas emissions from a single facility or a group of buildings.

This can be useful in determining whether there are some aspects of a company’s operations that need more attention, in terms of meeting sustainability targets, than others. This will allow the company to place its resources and attention where it is needed the most.

Some software companies monitor consumption levels and deliver the results on a 12-month average basis, while other companies can measure the performance of a company’s sustainability credentials on a day-to-day basis, which could help the business keep on top of issues as they arise and allow it to more easily pinpoint areas that need extra attention.

As well as using the latest software to help your business maintain its environmentally-friendly operations, a physical inspection of the facilities is crucial. Night audits are particularly useful. A simple walk through an empty building could identify machinery and equipment that continues to run overnight.

FM staff could then highlight areas of concern and review whether such equipment needs to run overnight or during the company’s downtime. By adjusting processes to reduce the amount of equipment that continues to run when a building is empty, efficiency could be increased by up to 20%.


People running up a trend arrow

Every FM manager should know these trends

There are a number of trends set to change the FM and services industry. By identifying changes that will impact the sector, managers can plan for, and even benefit from, future shifts in society and in how we do business.

Economic Growth
The shift in economic growth from the west to emerging markets in the east means industry players must do more to set themselves apart in what will become a crowded market with new competition. Multinational companies should ensure their products can be tailored to a variety of local markets, so they can capitalise on growth in areas with differing cultures.

Commercialisation
Trends in commercialisation will lead to greater competition and innovation, with industry players needing to ensure their customers stay relevant. It will be essential that managers understand key business indicators and how they can help customers achieve optimised performance. Two examples of this would be to use lean management techniques that cut needless processes or the data-driven six sigma method, which seeks to enhance customer satisfaction with continuous process improvements and low defect rates.

Ageing Population
An ageing population coupled with diminishing pension incomes are leading to an increasing number of people working until later in life, which is changing the workplace. When it comes to hiring and retaining staff, the FM industry will need to gain an understanding of the motivation that drives its staff, which will differ widely from generation to generation.

Furthermore, with a four-generation workforce set to become commonplace in European, American, Japanese and Chinese workplaces, recruiters will need to recognise the differences between these generations, along with the challenges and opportunities that this trend will present.

Technological Progression
Advances in technology, including smart security, robotics and sensors, will affect jobs, leading to reduced demand for low-skilled workers, while increasing demand for skilled staff.

Climate Change
Climate change will force most industries and societies to become greener, which could impact on supply chains and the design, maintenance and management of buildings in the future. However, climate change and the urbanisation of mid to low-income countries in regions prone to natural disasters will bring new risk to the industry, which must ensure it is adequately prepared for such an event. This could be by having robust contingency and continuity plans in place.

Health
Meanwhile, the growing focus on human health will lead to the redesign of buildings to encourage staff to be more active and to stave off lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes. This trend is notable for the industry, as almost a third of Europe’s FM revenue comes from the healthcare sector, but budget cuts could result in governments outsourcing more work.

Flexibility At Work
Lastly, the traditional workplace is changing, with companies of all sizes shifting to models that promote flexible, collaborative, innovative and productive work. This is demonstrated by the growth of coworking environments, homeworking and flexible working options that have become common across the world.

This trend can be used to help retain and recruit staff. A company can be more appealing for prospective workers by offering flexible working options. Flexible working will require managers to use online facility booking and management tools.

Trends that could impact the industry are wide-ranging, but the common factor here is preparedness, which could make the difference between success and failure.


magnifying glass in the centre of wooden people

Are you ready for these new recruitment trends?

As the world of work changes, so does the way in which employers recruit. Some changes may not stand the test of time, but the following just might.

Mobile-first indexing

A Google initiative designed to enhance our experience as online searchers and to ensure that Google keeps up with our habits. Google likes the fact that we say we will “Google” something and it wants to keep on our good side. Nowadays, more and more of us are looking for jobs on our smartphones and tablets, but some recruiters still don’t acknowledge this. This move is intended to change that.

No more written CVs?

Increasingly, recruiters, whether in-house or external, are placing their focus on more than just what we write in our CV. What do our social media profiles say about us? Do they portray us in a way that we’d like a current or prospective employer to see us? Employees may need to start doing the same sort of things that businesses need to do, creating their own personal websites and building a suitable 'brand' for their chosen career in order to get hired.

Make the company profile look the part

We may not have got to the recruitment equivalent of online dating sites as yet, but we do need people to “fit,” if we want the hire to be successful on both sides. The way we do this is to be honest yet attractive. To use a phrase that was very common back in the early 2000s, we need to make ourselves, “employers of choice.” We need to do this on our website as well as our social media profile pages and we mustn't forget all those job review sites either.

AI anyone?

Like it or not, artificial intelligence is not going away. It’s already in use in one form or another in the UK, in the NHS, for example, and in a number of industries. This is starting to impact on the types of job available, with analysts suggesting that it will create many more new roles than it will replace. It is also having a significant effect on the efficiency of candidate screening and accuracy of hire in the recruitment sector.

Flexible working

More and more of us are moving into freelance or self-employed roles. It’s beneficial for the employer because their costs are lower and beneficial for the worker because they have greater flexibility over their working hours and locations. There are plusses and minuses on both sides but focus on the positives.

Virtual Reality

Not only software for video interviews, but VR and augmented reality are now being used in recruitment. They enable candidates to take part in simulations of real-life situations.

Talent Relationship Management (TRM)

This is becoming more important in recruitment, but we shouldn’t forget our existing talent. There are many reasons to promote internally-developed people, however, we don’t want to forget potential new talent either.

The truth is, we need to use a wide variety of recruitment methods in order to hire the right people. We stand a better chance of getting the right people by staying ahead of the curve.


brain shape from technology lights

Which technologies are changing the FM industry?

The world of facilities management covers a whole range of different areas. This means there are many opportunities for technology to streamline operations for companies involved in this field. Geographic information systems and computer-aided design were some of the first technologies to make an impact in the FM business, but there are now many others.

Smarter buildings

One of the big things that have changed in recent years is the number of devices and sensors that can send information over the internet. These ‘smart’ or ‘Internet of Things’ devices are now used in many buildings, particularly for environmental controls. This means that thermostats, for example, can report back to a computer system that can control heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

Similar systems can be used for lighting, ensuring that lights aren’t left on when a room is empty, for example. They can also be an integral part of building an overall smart workplace, allowing employees to ‘hot desk’ and make the best use of available resources, for example, or to automatically direct people to the location of a meeting. The system can ensure that a conference room is lit and at a comfortable temperature before the meeting starts and that any audio-visual systems required are enabled.

Wearables

Many people now have wearable technology like fitness trackers. It’s easy to see the benefits of these on a personal level, but how can they help with managing facilities? Using wearable devices can help managers to understand the pattern of employee activity throughout the workday.

Wearable technology can be used to collect data about how people move around a building, thus giving valuable insights into resource use and space occupancy as people go about their jobs.

Building information

Another thing that facilities management providers are turning to is building information modelling. This allows the creation of a digital model of a physical building. Why is this useful? It can help with space management, letting you work out the best way to fit people and equipment into the space. It also helps with making decisions about efficient use of the building, energy consumption and so on. It can also make it easier when it comes to refurbishments and redesign.

Recent moves are towards Open BIM, which means adopting common standards that make it easy to compare information about different locations. If fully adopted, this would allow information to be shared widely, helping to create ‘smart cities’ to promote levels of energy efficiency and space utilisation across a wide area.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is having an impact on many different areas of our lives and the FM sector is no exception. Along with machine learning and the smart buildings technology we discussed above, it can be used to analyse data in order to predict things like asset utilisation.

This means that equipment can be serviced according to its use, helping to prevent unexpected breakdowns of things like environmental plant. AI and ML technology can help to predict failures before they happen and therefore keep things running smoothly.