World Facilities Management Day

World Facilities Management Day

Today is World Facilities Management Day: the day of the year when we recognise the vital work that FMs and the FM industry contribute to business worldwide. It aims to raise the profile of the FM profession anywhere that FMs influence the health, safety, productivity and well-being of people who utilise the built environment.

And what a fitting time to acknowledge an industry and workforce on the frontline against COVID-19 together with the teams wrestling with the challenges of devising and implementing return to the workplace plans.

Many of our clients in the critical sectors have continued to operate effectively in extremely difficult circumstances and, here at Catch 22, I am pleased with the way that our team has collaborated with those customers and adapted quickly to meet their needs. It's been a tough couple of months: new ways of working, extending homeworking, introducing online registrations, video interviewing and compliance - all the time ensuring the wellbeing of employees, workers and clients is paramount.

Now, we are ready to help those who are planning a way out of lockdown to do so safely. There is plenty of guidance out there on the reopening and reoccupying of buildings but Catch 22 are very much here to support your labour/skills/talent back to work strategy. I would be really interested to hear your thoughts around the main challenges and equally keen to share with you how we have tackled the last 2 months and are now wrestling with the irreversible trends and developments in [recruitment] technology whilst staying true to our values of collaboration, capability, compliance and community.

Back to World FM Day first though. Facilities Management is fast becoming the New Emergency Service during the coronavirus pandemic and, on this World FM Day, from all of us at Catch 22,

Thank you to the whole FM community for all you do every day.


key workers

Should FM managers be classed as 'key workers'?

Who are the key workers? It’s a question that’s critical where FM is concerned. With the need to keep buildings secure, well maintained and above all clean, facilities management is arguably now more important than ever.

Safe and operational

In these unprecedented times, FM has a critical role to play in keeping essential buildings operational and safe. But that’s not currently reflected in government thinking and facilities managers are not currently listed as key workers along with cleaners and waste management operatives. Fears are that if facilities management and associated roles are not recognised as critical workers now then hygiene standards will drop when FM should have a positive role to play in the response to COVID-19.

Essential buildings, essential workers?

Buildings that are essential in the crisis include hospitals, schools and banks, all of which need to be kept clean and well maintained. Even temporarily unoccupied buildings need to be kept secure and operational to in readiness for business continuity. In addition, waste management and HVAC maintenance are critical to ensure that infestations and the threat of Legionnaires disease are minimised.

So if buildings can be considered essential, why not the facilities managers who undertake this critical work? While tighter social distancing and isolation measures are quite rightly in force, should FM managers maintain the right to work and access their buildings to provide these essential services? That’s the question the IWFM is asking of the government.

Critical to the COVID-19 response

In a letter to the Secretaries of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, IWFM CEO Linda Hausmanis makes two urgent demands:

- That facilities management professionals be considered as key workers under the latest government guidance
- That these professionals and their contractors be able to attend their buildings and continue to ensure they are safe and well maintained even in the event of stricter social distancing measures

The bigger picture is that these professionals play a critical role in keeping buildings clean and well maintained in sectors regarded by the government as key to the Covid-19 response. In some cases, this essential maintenance and repair work fulfils a statutory duty. The industry body is also asking that facilities professionals be allowed to determine the teams and contractors that are critical to achieving safe and healthy outcomes for those key workers using these buildings.

The IWFM is asking professionals to share their experiences of managing the coronavirus crisis by email to policy@iwfm.org.uk. This information can then be used to support and inform other facility managers across the profession.

Professional resources

If you’re a facility management professional looking for the latest guidance and information to stay ahead of the curve, the IWFM has put together a set of Covid-19 resources which can be found at https://www.iwfm.org.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-resources.html. Alongside the latest advice from government and public health authorities, the industry body has collated a range of valuable resources from across the business and other partner organisations.

To help you keep delivering essential services, you’ll find information on business continuity plans, shutdown, partial occupancy and restarting plus security, stress and wellbeing and best practice guidance. Sound management of the critical infrastructure that business and key workers depend upon demonstrates beyond all doubt that FM professionals deserve to be included as part of the UK’s critical workforce.


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.


Blog - Catch 22

Catch 22’s 12th Charity Walk Challenge

Catch 22’s 12th Charity Challenge is next week!
 
We started these walks in 1997 and this year we are taking on The #SouthDownsWay!
 
This year the #walk will take place on Wednesday, May 1st – Saturday 5th. Vince and Simon (with Don’s organisational assistance!) are tackling the 100 miles from #Winchester to #Eastbourne. Simon will make it, although Vince is not sure his metal knee will last all the way. But 50 odd intrepid walkers will ensure fun is had and money raised.
 
(It's not too late to join us, although you need to sort out your own travel and accommodation. One night in Winchester, #Petersfield, and #Midhurst followed by three in #Brighton, ending with a big celebration in the Good Companions in #Brighton on Sunday night.
 
If you would like to sponsor us, head to our Just Giving page - https://bit.ly/2Uzm7xy
 
As always the main charity is the @Lords Taverners
Simon is walking for Burning Nights CPRS charity; you can read more about CPRS and donate here - https://bit.ly/2vmGrrC
 
Thanks very much in advance!

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%.