Blog - Catch 22

Key 2018 facilities management trends that every FM professional should know

What are the key developments that will set the agenda for facilities management in 2018? Let's take a look at some of the emerging trends.

Wellness is going to be huge

You may well say fine - but what's that got to do with facilities management? The wellness trend is part of a growing realisation that the internal environment of buildings is as important as external environmental factors such as air quality. In fact, because employees spend so much time inside their workplace, it may be a more important contributor to their wellness or lack of it, than the outside space.

Facilities managers are being urged to employ a holistic approach to the entire way that a user experiences a building. So, for example, new approaches to lighting take individuals’ needs into account and the previous “one-size-fits-all” approach is no longer considered acceptable. Similarly, it's now recognised that excessive noise in the working environment is stressful and affects productivity.

Facilities managers will help to deliver happier employees

The prediction here is that the facilities manager will have responsibility not only for running the building, but also for the welfare of the staff inside it. This won't just be limited to the traditional health and safety parameters. It will be about making the environment a desirable one for people to work and live in.

Recent research from Scandinavia has confirmed that open plan offices are not good for helping staff to feel well. The open layout affects concentration and causes feelings of alienation. So facilities managers may find that future working spaces are more targeted to the individual physical and psychological needs of employees, rather than the linear desking, or ‘battery chicken’ approach that has been popular with many employers in the last few years

FM business relationships will be recast

The collapse of Carillion has brought the whole outsourcing issue into sharp focus. Many mid-sized FM providers are hoping that some of the large infrastructure players will be fully tied up covering the gaps caused by Carillion’s collapse and optimistic that this will provide some new opportunities for slightly smaller companies to take on larger contracts.

Some public sector procurement professionals may also realise that the tiny margins that they previously thought viable are actually a threat to the stability of their suppliers. This could be good news for the outsourced FM business which has been forced into providing lower and lower quotes, some of them simply uneconomic.

Robotics and wearable technology will become part of FM

This is the point at which the Internet of Things, the rapid advance of robotic technology and the willingness of users to have their data harvested by wearable technology may all come together. Facilities management companies will find themselves gathering data from users and employing it as feedback that they will then use to adjust the immediate environment and indeed, the entire FM offer. Certain areas, such as security, may see the early use of robotic “gatekeepers”, especially when staff are wearing smart passes and buildings are geared up to track them around the premises.

It’s an exciting but challenging time for the facilities management industry, and the managers in it are going to find themselves learning many new skills to stay on top of developments.


Effective-Meeting-Catch22

Top tips for running the most effective facilities meeting possible

Facilities management team meetings can be lively, informative, must-attend events that end with everyone feeling more positive than when they arrived. But be honest - is that how yours are perceived? If you feel that the meeting has become a boring rigmarole that you have to go through each week or month, take a look at these tips for injecting energy and effectiveness into the time you spend with your team.

1. Be positive

If this is the one time that you get together with your staff, show that you are pleased to see or talk to them. Greet them positively, by name, to get the meeting off to a good start. This isn’t management school theory, it’s common politeness yet a surprising number of managers forget to do these basics and appear unaware of the poor impression it gives.

2. Plan for the meeting you want

If you have a written agenda, don’t just churn the standard one out, month after month. It gives everyone a tired feeling of “same old, same old”. So freshen up the agenda with something unexpected. Or if you find that a great deal of the meeting is taken up by run of the mill reports from each participant, ask them to circulate these by email beforehand and, instead, spend the time gathering ideas about how things can be improved.

3. Build engagement

Ask people to send in any items they’d like to see included on the agenda. And don’t forget to ask team members to raise any subjects they want to have included in future meetings. This will help build engagement.

Building a team isn’t always about activities that are specifically labeled as “team-building”. If members of the facilities management team work in different locations or do very different jobs, it’s quite possible that they have little clue about what another team member’s job involves. So use the meeting for some short presentations from team members about what their job entails and its highs and lows.

4. Include a bit of slack

If the meeting is a highly disciplined, timed march from one agenda item to the next, you may miss out on hearing about things that are currently enthusing, enraging, or exciting, your team. So build in a tea break or a general chat at the end; something that allows people to engage in a less formal manner. You’ll get to hear the gossip and will be able to “take the temperature” of the group by listening to them.

5. Use the opportunity for team development

It’s an ideal time for a 10-minute briefing that extends the team’s understanding of the role they play in the organization. Perhaps you could show them some new trends in equipment and how they might change the job in the next few years. If anyone’s been to a trade show, or on a training course, ask them to share what they saw or learned.

Use your team meetings to foster engagement and build the team’s knowledge and skills, as well as getting through day-to-day business. Your team will respond with a far more positive attitude, not just to the meeting but also to what they do every day.


Exit, sign,

Understanding counter-terrorism best practices for effective facilities management

Exit, sign,

Counter-terrorism plays a very big role in the security and safety of a 21st-century facility and continues to be a priority commitment for staff in facilities management. With anybody a target in this modern society, there are so many potential threats to security. As such, implementing best practices for effectively preventing hate crimes is vital to any place of work.

Knowing the Risks

First and foremost, to be sure of staying compliant with safety and security systems, the head of facilities management should be aware of and be able to recognise the risks so that they can put all of the necessary measures in place. This will be different for each and every property and business type. For example, a small surveyor's office in the suburbs might need a different security system to a governmental headquarters based in a big city like the capital.

That said, effective risk assessment will take into consideration the methods of recruiting new employees and carrying out background checks, as well as welcoming visitors and maintaining the flow of customers or other individuals, like delivery drivers, entering and leaving the building. Therefore, any occupied building presents a challenge. Technology is currently an effective preventative measure thanks to many recent advancements, but basic best practices and relying on the intuition of staff are still key.

Planning and Communicating

It is vital for facilities management employees to have a plan of action in place to respond to certain situation, no matter how extreme and rare. However, what's just as important is communicating these expectations and requirements to the rest of the occupants - even the visitors. Fire safety information should be displayed around the building, and those arriving on site should have an idea of what to do in the event of an emergency.

Mass Notification Systems, or MNS, are available for larger facilities and help to spread the word about an imminent threat and allow leaders to take charge with overall direction of the premises and those within it. These are particularly useful for buildings with multiple departments spread across many floors or properties with cafes or big communal areas.

Prioritising and Coordinating

While maintenance isn't always seen as a priority, some regular maintenance is required to ensure that a building performs in the way it should when targeted by a terrorist attack, whether that is arson or another type of threat. Fire safety is highly important, and all systems should be thoroughly and regularly tested to make sure that they meet regulations. This includes having third-party companies come to conduct tests on equipment and how they function in the event of a critical emergency.

In addition, by coordinating with local fire, security and law enforcement bodies, like the fire service community police and the local government, facilities management teams can learn from their expertise and use this to implement better security measures that are more appropriate to the local area. In the event of an emergency, it is so important for everyone to work together in harmony, including these outside organisations who have the potential to respond to issues and help ensure the safety of a building's occupants.


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Three best practices all FM managers should know

Those working in the facilities management sector are there to facilitate the operational needs of a building's infrastructure. As such, efficiency is key to any facilities manager's management approach. Here are three best practices that all FM managers should be driven by, in order to deliver optimum benefits for their organisation.

Make the small things count

A key aspect of facilities management is consistency, so, to ensure that all managed systems are always working at their best and most efficient, one should ensure that small modifications are put in place to generate a big impact. This means, as an example, installing flex valves in toilets to cut down on water usage, switching all light bulbs to energy-efficient LEDs and supplying hot water dispensers to office spaces to reduce electricity bills from boiling kettles throughout the working day.

Managers should be relentless in their efforts to champion efficiency, encouraging changes to daily routines no matter how minor they seem (switching lights off when leaving a room unoccupied, for instance) and turning these into habits across the entire team, as it is these small things that make a difference. Not only should the facilities team itself abide by these rules, it should be promoting these actions to all of the building's residents so that, collectively, they can actively save money and energy.

Think ahead

It is no good only being a responsive team, you should be striving to prevent breakages and losses of service well before they occur. For example, if you know that relatively cheap pieces of equipment need replacing, but decide to put this task to one side for budgetary reasons or because other projects take priority over them, you could wind up paying significantly more in maintenance fees should a problem then occur. Think proactively and aim to protect your contents as an investment measure, thus reducing unnecessary costs in the long run. If you knew that there was an accident just waiting to happen and did nothing about it, you would kick yourself if it ever did happen, and could potentially be held responsible and liable for a warning or worse.

Take note of analytics

In this modern day, we are lucky enough to have technology to provide us with vast amounts of useful data. Facilities managers should use this valuable information to their advantage by logging maintenance schedules, creating checklists, monitoring track logs and much, much more.

The key is to first find a piece of software that is right for your company, so that you can customise and centralise all of your systems effectively. While software can be a costly expenditure, you will often save the money elsewhere. It also provides value to your clients too, because its reports can generate facts and details that will benefit them. For example, the software can be used to help notify them when planned maintenance is due to take place (particularly useful if there will be interruptions to their networks) and can be very influential in maximising all of their systems financially and environmentally.


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How to succeed at your video interview

If you thought that telephone interviews were your worst nightmare, then consider what it is like to be interviewed over a video call! With so many things to think about, a video interview can feel more pressured than a normal face-to-face meeting. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your facilities management video job interview.

Choose a location where you won't be disturbed

As with a telephone interview, you must choose a time and a place that will give you the opportunity to speak freely. For instance, don't participate in a video interview on your existing work premises, and don’t set yourself up for the discussion in a busy cafe or a shared apartment, as you simply cannot predict noise levels and disturbances. The best place to be during your video interview is in your own space, where you can feel at ease and can be comfortable talking about yourself, facilities management and the role expected of you.

Be aware of your surroundings

Following on from the first point, do a practice run first, to check that you don't have anything on display within the frame that you shouldn't, like dirty cups or laundry, or even offensive posters. If you want the panel to think you are neat and organised, then your surroundings should reflect this. Be sure to position yourself near a light too, so that, if the interview takes place in the afternoon, you can adjust the lighting and won't end up in complete darkness. While you may prefer your face to be blurred by darkness, the panel do actually want to see eye contact and your expressions, just as they would in a face to face situation.

Dress appropriately for an interview

Not only should you prep your surroundings, you should also prep yourself. Just because you are not going to their offices does not mean you shouldn't make the effort to dress smartly. The interviewer does not want to see you dressed in your loungewear, as this gives a negative vibe. Also, don’t be tempted to simply team your joggers with a shirt because you don't think they will notice. What if, for example, you realise that you need something at the other side of the room and must stand up?

Check all your devices works

Although this has been left until last, it is actually one of the most important points to take away. If you've never used the audio function on your laptop or desktop before, make sure that you check it prior to the interview, leaving you enough time to get a technician's advice, if necessary. Similarly, even if you regularly use Skype, make sure that your camera is connected and that your WiFi is on. Ensure that the position of your camera is appropriate, and hasn't slipped to an embarrassing angle for all. Male or female, it isn't really an ideal situation to have a prospective employer forced to look at anything other than your face on your first meeting!


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How to get ahead in your facilities management career

Facilities management (FM) may not be everyone's dream career, but even those who fall into the sector by accident often discover that there are actually many fantastic opportunities for career progression, as well as a great deal of enjoyment to be had from the roles. As such, more and more people are being attracted to the industry, including millennials, and the sector is welcoming them with brand new apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships helping to shape futures

From October, over 50 higher level apprenticeships will be made available in an attempt to attract youngsters to FM as a career, and this is intended to build a younger and fresher workforce (which, at present, is predominantly made up of male workers, aged over 35). More apprenticeships will then be made available in the following March, bringing the total up to over 200 new openings.

The £1m investment will help to create a clear professional path into the industry, instead of the more common approach, which is for individuals to stumble across roles. The apprenticeships themselves will give young professionals an opportunity to gain a degree-level qualification and the skills required to enter the public sector.

Creating a true path into facilities management

As previously touched upon, many facilities managers would admit that they didn't go on the search for that career, but they probably wouldn't change their job for the world. Yet, there wasn't previously a set path to entering the field, or much information about what the career could offer. The hope is that this investment will set out a better professional path for graduates and help students to properly understand the benefits of a career in FM.

Compensating for retirees

Furthermore, the plans have been put in place to create opportunities, and also to fill gaps. Since the workforce is predominantly aged between 40 and 50, the sector needs to prepare for when those employees leave. Without raising the profile of FM as a career and creating these opportunities for the next generation of workers, companies will be left with staff shortages. That is why this investment is such a timely revelation.

The different areas of facilities management

Some may be surprised to hear that the sector is very varied, offering a range of niche specialisms. Among these areas of expertise are building design & planning, building development, contracts/projects & bids, engineering/maintenance, estates/property, events, health & safety, operations, procurement, sustainability, technical services/ICT and general FM.

How to get your career started

To find out more about the apprenticeships and other opportunities for professional study that are available in the FM sector, you can consult the relevant pages on gov.uk, or you can visit the designated area found on the BIFM website (The Professional Body for Facilities Management) at bifm.org.uk. As someone in their twenties, looking for a great career, you should definitely consider setting your sights on becoming an FM professional and benefitting from the apprenticeships on offer. You could gain valuable qualifications, and also learn a great deal about the sector, mastering the skills required to progress through the ranks.


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Three essential skills that all facilities managers need

Facilities management is a diverse sector covering a broad range of roles, yet there are certain skills that any successful professional within the field must possess.

With the sector changing drastically thanks to new technology and a stream of environmental regulations, those who were once well-suited to the industry may now struggle to keep up with the ever-changing environment, while others may now begin to thrive in their positions.

Here are the key skills required by those entering the field of facilities management.

Analytical skills

By nature, facilities management is quite a complex and unpredictable discipline, with new challenges being thrown at staff all the time. As such, individuals must be prepared to think quickly and to make decisions in line with business needs and budget. Facilities managers, in particular, are tasked with dealing with a variety of important and somewhat detailed information. They must use this to inform decisions, amend procedures where necessary and find new ways to improve the overall efficiency of the team and the building (or buildings) being managed.

Communication skills

As facilities management can require team members to oversee a range of situations including project planning and managing, communication is not only useful, it is key. Managers must be comfortable giving orders to their team yet they must possess the skills to communicate with colleagues in an appropriate manner. In addition to being able to speak effectively with a team, managers must also possess excellent written communication skills so that they can write up reports from meetings, staff reviews, and other important discussions in a professional manner.

Leadership skills

As we have seen above, managers in the facilities industry must be able to encourage and motivate a team, which means that strong leadership skills will determine whether or not you are ultimately promoted. That said, not everyone is a natural leader and the confidence needed can be built up over time, as can the knowledge that is required to support career progression. Being honest, being passionate, being able to communicate and being able to delegate are just a few signs that you could be a great manager in the future. It is good to note that leaders come in all ages; youthfulness should not deter you from chasing your dream of becoming a manager.

As you can see, the three principles are not difficult to achieve but it is your attitude and drive that will determine just how well you meet these requirements. One of the main things to remember is not to underestimate the responsibility that is placed in your hands, yet to not let the pressure of getting things to work harmoniously overwhelm you. If you are just considering a job in this sector and are doubting your suitability to work your way to the top, bear in mind that these are skills that you can develop along the way. You might even have developed elements of these skills during your education or previous work experience but have yet to realise it.


How social media can make or break your job hunt

How social media can make or break your job hunt

In this day and age, most people will have experimented with social media, with many having one or more accounts that they update regularly. While posting pictures of a night out with friends may seem perfectly innocent, if prospective employers catch sight of something they don't like, then it could cost you the job. This is why social media can inadvertently make or break your job hunt in the facilities management industry.

Why do employers look up candidates online?

While you may expect an establishment in the facilities management sector to base their decision whether to hire you on your CV, covering letter, a test completed or on how you display yourself at an interview, you might be shocked to find out that many facilities management teams look up their preferred candidates online, to get a glimpse of who they are outside of the professional environment. With many of us hearing about or finding job advertisements through social networks nowadays, who are we to complain if a company takes a look at us, just like we have probably inspected their information and statuses on sites like LinkedIn or Twitter?

Though some would argue that LinkedIn is specifically designed for making business connections and finding out about companies and the staff who work for them, are recruiters crossing a line when they start to venture onto predominantly 'social' sites like Facebook or Instagram?

Keeping your private life private

Regardless of how you feel about this situation, if you have a public Facebook profile, or even have mutual friends at the company you intend to work for, offering visibility into your private life, then you are inviting anyone to take a look at what you have been up to. Remember also that this applies to everything on your account, from old posts that were once funny to photographs that you might now feel ashamed of. The key message here is not to remove your social media presence altogether, but to assess your accounts and censor anything that you personally would not want a prospective employer to see.

If your social media accounts regularly display behaviour that is very different to what the panel of interviewers saw, or that puts you across in a negative light, then that might cause them to worry about your sincerity and your suitability for their post.

It's not all bad though...

On the contrary, not everyone's profiles will be filled with controversial content and not all employers will be easily offended by someone having fun in their personal time, but it is useful to note that professionals might be interested to know about your true character including your interests, hobbies and groups that you are actively involved in. As such, your open profile might even work in your favour when it comes to finding work.

Many people hiring for the facilities management sector will be influenced by seeing a social media account that displays a likeable personality and one that will fit in nicely into their team.