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Why truly virtual workplaces will become a reality

As you jump from Google Docs to Dropbox to Slack you’re using new tools to do the same work. But what if a truly virtual workplace could digitise interactions, put everyone literally on the same page and revolutionise every step of a project from conception to completion?

Virtual collaboration has the potential to help us work faster, smarter, more strategically and more transparently than ever before. Opening up the virtual workplace for all has impacts in terms of productivity, innovation and problem-solving. Today, over 41 million employees will spend at least one day a week engaged in virtual working.

The advantages of the virtual workplace

Any organisation that wants to reduce costs and increase productivity is looking seriously at the virtual workplace. By engineering spaces that encourage open-ended creativity and collaboration, an organisation can create an always available virtual office that promotes innovative and more democratic ways of working that drive employee engagement and retention.

But sometimes it seems as if new tools and technologies are only encouraging us to improve the ways we work, rather than to become more productive and creative in the work we do. Moving the office to the cloud won’t fundamentally change the way we work - yet. But the advantages of reducing the real-world footprint by exchanging functional work for conceptual work is already happening and it has some real implications for facilities management.

Rethinking space

Knowledge working is the fastest growing sector in the 21st-century workplace and it’s forcing businesses to totally rethink their concept of space. That, in turn, has an impact on facilities management, making workplace planning more fluid and dynamic.

Because the virtual workplace allows for the seamless exchange of knowledge between employees, stakeholders and customers, FM should focus on re-engineering existing office spaces to follow suit.

Integrating technology and services

The virtual workforce is already here, characterised by their mobility and an anytime, anywhere approach to doing business. As the virtual workplace takes hold, facilities management will be required to provide totally reliable and consistent connectivity for a diverse range of devices. This will be powered by collaborative software and backed up with highly responsive support services including space reservation services and concierge systems.

Reconceptualising the office

Truly virtual workplaces are already becoming a reality, boosting production and saving valuable time in the delivery of project work. However, virtual workers still rely on real-world office space to accomplish certain specific tasks and that’s where real estate can be found wanting.

Successful bricks and mortar offices combine open and closed spaces, group and individual, unassigned and private. Getting the right balance is critical to translate the productivity gains of virtual collaboration into the real-world workplace.

Forward-thinking

The challenge for FM providers is to remain forward-facing in the way in which they manage the demands and needs of virtual workers. New competencies will be required alongside new ways of thinking about space. By managing the evolution of work and the virtual workplace successfully, facilities management can help to integrate virtual and real-world employees, reduce overhead costs and minimise the environmental impact of traditional styles of working and commuting.

The process has already begun and forward-thinking FM managers will be at the forefront of a change that will alter the workplace forever.


New year's career resolutions to make in 2020

New year's career resolutions to make in 2020!

Want to make your career in facilities management shine in 2020? You need to decide on realistic goals that can be achieved in a timely fashion throughout the coming year. If you want to start moving on and moving up, then these are the top career resolutions to make now.

Get into learning mode

Been doing the same FM job for a while and starting to coast? Now’s the time to switch your brain into learning mode and adopt a growth mindset. Even if the things you learn don’t directly relate to your skill set, it’s the attitude that matters.

Make an impact

Want to gain maximum visibility? Then pick the big high profile FM projects and make your contribution felt. Create your own opportunities rather than waiting to be invited to climb the next rung of the career ladder. Get some clarity on what you need to do to be considered for promotion and take steps to get there.

Step outside your comfort zone

Don’t get stuck in a rut. Make 2020 the year that you stretch your role and show some initiative. Whether you seek out a different role in one of the big facilities management projects on your patch or come up with your own ideas and find ways to implement them, taking on some new responsibilities is a cast-iron way to gain experience and become more valuable to your company.

Build a great relationship with your boss

When it comes to advancing your career, fostering a great relationship with your boss is paramount. Managing up is a smart strategy for developing that relationship, so find out what issues are keeping them up at night and find ways to ease the burden. Help your boss to hit their goals and chances are they’ll be more motivated to help you hit yours. Whatever the financial or performance targets they need to hit, be around to help them achieve their goals.

Manage across your team

When you’re working on team projects, the way you interact with your colleagues can make or break the chances of success. Always give credit where it’s due and make the effort to engage and build rapport. Giving emotional support can help you work as a team more effectively and build more meaningful and productive relationships in the long term.

Communicate better

One of the quickest ways to improve your profile is to improve your communication skills. Return calls and emails promptly, keep your colleagues updated, ask them about their own progress and projects and give thanks and credit where it’s due. If you’re going to be unavailable, let people know in a timely fashion.

Be open to new possibilities

Want to move up or move on in FM? Whether you’re happy or not in your current position, you should always have one eye out for new possibilities. See something that’s a good fit and you could open up a whole new career avenue so make sure your CV is up to date and uploaded.

Create a work-life balance

If you're miserable and demotivated at work then your career is liable to stall. Make this the year that you claw back some time for friends and family and don’t forget to take those holiday days to rebalance your life and career.


Blog - Catch 22

Watch out for these FM trends in 2020

It’s an exciting time for facilities managers. New technologies, sustainable energy solutions and the always-on economy are changing the way that facilities are used and managed. Managing modern buildings requires an array of skills including forecasting, budgeting, maintenance and security allied with the ability to stay on top of new ways of thinking about the way we use the spaces for entertainment, commerce and work.

If you’re looking forward to the New Year with one eye on the new trends in FM, here are three key directions that facilities management is heading in.

Sustainable energy solutions

Seeking out sustainable energy solutions is a win-win. You can achieve your carbon reduction goals while attracting new consumers and occupants with the promise of greener energy and significantly reduced energy bills.

Analysing energy management systems and researching more sustainable replacements will become a key FM skill in the future. Managers who can propose solutions that cut waste and improve the green credentials of their building such as smart lighting, rainwater reuse systems, new style solar roofs and thermal energy storage will be best placed to implement carbon neutral solutions.

The consumer experience

This is a concept derived from retail but is applicable to the way you manage your facility. Employees and tenants have come to expect more from the spaces they work and live in and that delivers both challenges and opportunities for FM.

Your facilities management skills may have to meet the needs of tenants who live an always-on lifestyle or offer mixed use destinations that offer consumers, tenants and employees the diverse experiences they demand without disturbing the other users of the facility.

Your relationship with your clients is undergoing a radical and profound shift away from the purely transactional. Your diverse mix of tenants means you'll enjoy a higher footfall and a broader catchment which, in turn, is great for asset value. As a facilities manager, you’ll require more cleaning operatives, stronger security, increased monitoring of technical solutions and of course a mix of energy solutions that meet the needs of all tenants.

A diversified workforce

The New Year is always a good time to audit your skillset and look anew at your approach to recruitment.

- Facilities managers need to know about a tenant’s business and their preferred ways of working as well as knowing how a building is run and managed
- The ability to install and implement new technologies and confidence around automated systems is paramount
- Managers need to have the flexibility to react to problem situations quickly and effectively
- The ability to analyse data, draw out effective insights and change strategies accordingly will be a critical skill for the next generation of facilities managers

In order to attract and retain the next generation of talent, companies need to change the way they advertise FM job vacancies. They need to offer a wide range of benefits including strong salaries, ongoing support and professional development opportunities to demonstrate that they’re a great place to work. Combined with a commitment to diversity and dedication to environmental sustainability, facilities management is most definitely an attractive career for the next generation.


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Make these year-end career moves before Christmas

The start of a new decade is a great time to reflect back on your career so far. A self-audit now will help you to focus on your FM career goals for the next decade without getting in the way of your celebrations. Here are the year-end career moves you need to make before Christmas because thinking about the big picture now will set you up nicely for a successful 2020.

Review your goals and achievements

If you had big plans for your facilities management career this year, did you achieve your goals? You may have started out on several new projects or decided to implement new procedures. Now is the time to assess whether you’ve achieved the goals you set yourself, especially if these were communicated to your boss.

Generate a list of your achievements and take time to quantify their impact. Recording the details and measurable outcomes of the last twelve months sets you up for performance reviews and a CV update in the New Year.

Assess your performance

Have you hit all the action points from your last performance review and made those positive changes? What mistakes did you make and what did you learn from them?

If there are action points you need to meet, start lining them up now. If things didn’t go as expected or you tried something new and it didn’t work out as you planned, reflect on what you learned from the experience and capture what you would do differently next time.

Check your development

How does your salary stack up with other employees in facilities management? What core strengths and skills do you need to develop to enhance your FM career?

If you’re being underpaid and you want to fight for the salary you deserve, focus on your personal and professional development heading into the New Year. You may need to pursue training or education to improve your skillset or talk with your boss about project opportunities you’d like to pursue. Your goals can also be personal; the soft skills you learn from having the resilience and discipline to run a marathon can be a foundation stone for long term success in your career.

Review your networks

Who are the most effective people in your professional network? Can you build and maintain relationships that can help with your career development?

This is the ideal time of year to reach out to your existing network and send them season’s greetings. Ask how you can help your champions, supporters and mentors to achieve their goals in the New Year. Now look beyond your existing network to discover ways you can diversify and expand your contacts. Join a professional association or a community of interest within your organisation to pursue common interests and expand your network of professional friends.

The end of the year is a great time to reflect on the state of your FM career and to focus on ways to move it forward. This is a natural time to celebrate what you’ve achieved and to decide where you want to get to in the next 12 months to hit the next rung on the career ladder.


Blog - Catch 22

How facilities managers can benefit from IoT

The Internet of Things is changing the reality of facilities management. The ability to access real time data has impacted on our ability to manage the workplace and meet the challenges of managing facilities in a way that adds value to the organisation.

Internet of Things brings together mobile technologies, sensors and big data analytics, revolutionising the way in which we envision and manage our buildings. A facilities manager can deal efficiently with service requests and improve safety and security, operations and utilities management, amongst other benefits.

The capabilities of sensor infrastructure

Sensors can deliver valuable insights into how space is used, driving workplace optimisation. By understanding when and how space is used and the applicable timeframes, an FM can determine actual workspace utilisation rates in real-time. This, in turn, can enable them to identify and optimise underutilised space and set live capacity KPIs.

However, the capabilities of the sensor infrastructure don’t stop there. These sensor networks can also monitor the workplace environment including emissions, temperature and light. These factors, in turn, can impact on employees' health and wellbeing. Increases in C02 levels can directly impact productivity. Sensor activity can advise users when to take a break, or optimise building airflow to react to ventilation needs.

Enhanced maintenance with real-time tracking

The ability to monitor and track assets in real-time enables today's FM to capture and react to real-time diagnostics and fault detection. Business continuity can be maintained when IoT capabilities are leveraged to prevent critical failure, with alerts or early warning.

Predictive maintenance can prevent needless expense and prolong the life of an asset, mitigating the need for reactive repair and emergency equipment hire.

Optimising the workplace experience

IoT and analytics allow facilities management to keep greater control over the building and workplace environment, which improves the occupant experience. For example, beacons can be utilised to enhance the interaction between building occupants and their environment through the use of apps and WiFi technology.

The power of the IoT can also be leveraged in countering physical security threats and to enhance cybersecurity, preventing unauthorised access to the workplace. In terms of employee engagement, beacons can be used for push messaging and alerts and to provide real-time feedback. This, in turn, allows the FM to monitor the employee experience and proactively resolve real-time user issues.

The benefits of IoT for facilities management

One of the major benefits of IoT for the FM is the ability to do less with more. Monitoring of occupancy, energy usage and space leads to better asset management and greater efficiencies. The use of unique identifiers and tags can greatly increase workplace compliance by identifying employees with the right training and qualifications to perform certain tasks.

The quality of the workplace has become one of the differentiators when it comes to attracting top-quality talent to an organisation. IoT can enhance the profile of an organisation by streamlining frustrating procedures and creating a seamless community and network unique and specific to your building.

With its ability to improve every aspect of the employee experience and a potentially limitless number of applications, the IoT is delivering a wide range of benefits to facilities managers who are prepared to explore the use of real-time data, analysis and predictive information.


Blog - Catch 22

Is it time for a career pivot?

Have you hit a plateau in your career? Then you could be due a career pivot. If you’re ready to take a risk then why not make a confident and intentional career change that takes you in a new but related direction.

Do I need a career pivot?

Feeling that you’re due a career change can be as simple as not wanting to get up and do your job in the morning. If that sounds like you, then be on the lookout for a lack of engagement with your work or feeling low in energy and enthusiasm. If you’re staying on your present career path simply because of the money and the job title, it could be time to pivot.

Inventory your strengths and skills

Before you start seriously pursuing new career goals, it’s time to take an inventory. What are the transferable strengths and skills and the value-adds you bring to your current position? What are the skills you’ll need for your pivot in facilities management? Where are the gaps in your knowledge?

You’ll need to complete this process before moving on to the next step.

Work on filling the gaps

If you’re looking to pivot within facilities management, you need to sharpen up your skillset. You may need to take a related qualification or hone your communication skills. If you work as an FM, you’re in the right place to start your own skills bootcamp by asking the right questions and meeting the right people. If you want to get into facilities management, start working on your knowledge gap by reading websites and trade publications.

Formulate your pivot plan

Creating a plan with measurable milestones will help you to pinpoint the right time to pivot. Consider the following metrics:

- Financial goals: set goals for savings or money earned before you commit to the pivot
- Progress checkpoints: set goals for your accomplishments as you move towards your pivot point - the number of clients you’ve accrued or the projects you’d like to accomplish
- Data based planning: set a target date for acquiring new skills and exploring what’s involved in your career pivot
- Gut instincts: If you feel that you’re ready to move or you can’t stay in the same career any longer, you’re ready to make the pivot

Take time to update

Now you’re ready to update, set aside the time to do the following:

- Revise your CV to take in new skills, experience and qualifications
- Maximise your LinkedIn profile
- Order new business cards
- Continue to familiarise yourself with your new dream job title and industry
- Review and revisit your elevator pitch to include your new skillset

Take the leap

Letting go of your safety net will never be completely risk-free, however well prepared you are. But it’s worth remembering how you felt when you got into your career in the first place and were hungry to establish yourself. Use that energy and enthusiasm to say yes to everything, no matter how small.

Your career pivot can take time and will require reserves of resilience. But once you make the move you’ll find yourself taking chances and by moving out of your comfort zone, you’ll give yourself the opportunity to let your skills and strengths do the talking.


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How informal networking can grow your career

It’s often said that ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’ that is significant when it comes to business. Networking and making connections with others has always been an important part of getting ahead in any industry. Recent years have seen a huge increase in business-orientated social media, with sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook growing in popularity for both recruitment and networking.

With such advances and changes in working practices, traditional networking may not be as relevant as it once was and informal networking may be the way to further your career.

Whatever industry you are in, networking can be a valuable pursuit in order to get ahead. It can be helpful for hearing about new jobs and developments in companies. So what exactly is informal marketing, how does it work and how is it different?

Just as traditional networking, it is all about contacting, communicating with and getting to know business contacts. In this way, you build up a network of professional contacts with whom you can share valuable information and knowledge The way in which informal networking differs from traditional networking is that it is less structured and doesn’t need to be in a confined professional setting.

Informal networking is more about being open to meeting a range of professionals in a variety of environments and settings. Rather than rushing to exchange business cards with a contact at an organised structured meeting, informal networking is about letting the conversation flow freely and organically in a relaxed environment.

An example of informal networking could be a gala dinner. Such an event might seem like a formal occasion in that the attendees get the chance to don their dinner jackets or ball gowns and enjoy a spectacular multiple course meal. It offers guests the chance to enjoy an evening where the focus is not on professional matters but rather about entertainment.

However, it also affords professionals from all areas and backgrounds the chance to get to meet and integrate with people with whom may not usually have the opportunity to connect. This is just one example of informal networking, but opportunities can be found anywhere and everywhere. Getting to know people around you in settings such as the gym, the local community even the school run, you never know who you may meet or how a relationship could be mutually beneficial.

A report from The Economist Intelligence Unit, titled Entrepreneurship and Informal Communities found corroborating evidence that some forms of informal networking can be beneficial. The report found a correlation between success and those entrepreneurs who actively engage in business-related social media such as LinkedIn.

It is thought that this is because of the friendship aspect and sense of community. Often, when networking isn’t enforced and evolves organically, it can involve a deeper connection. The study reports that engaging with like-minded professionals can help “mitigate pitfalls and cultivate creativity and innovation”.

The lesson to take away is that in this day and age, networking need not be confined to business environments. Take opportunities to meet new contacts wherever you are, whatever you are doing and these informal meetings may just make connections that can be beneficial to your career.


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The construction industry will hit digital tipping point in 2020

The construction industry has not always been renowned for its innovative approach or its eagerness to embrace digital change and business transformation. However, recent research in the field suggests that 2020 could be the critical year in terms of digital transformation for the construction sector, as challenging areas such as supply chains, productivity and risk management are gradually being addressed.

A new industry report was commissioned by Causeway, a UK construction company, with the aim of assessing how digital innovations were being adopted across the construction industry. The report involved a survey of 200 key decision-makers in the building industry in the UK, including Birmingham City University, Eiffage Kier and Atkins.

The findings of the survey show that 54% of respondents agreed that the construction industry has been relatively slow in the uptake of new technology and the integration of new digital practices. However, despite this acknowledgement, the survey did reveal that there is an optimism and a growing appreciation that investment in digital technology can have a positive effect on business.

70% of respondents reported a positive impact on the project and operational management, with improved flows of data and information. 58% felt that the investment in technology had an impact on recruitment and jobs, with success in attracting and also retaining essential new digital talent.

Advances were also realised in commercial performance, with 54% reporting workforce productivity improvements, 56% reducing their operating costs and 43% seeing business win rates increase. The supply chain was another area to see a positive impact, with 48% feeling that relations within the supply chain were stronger.

There are still challenges in the industry, as respondents reported in the survey. It was felt that there were key areas to be addressed for the industry to really move forward and fully embrace digital transformation. Firstly, there is a need to have a standardisation of technology in the supply chain to aid cohesion. The workforce is another area which requires focus as there is a necessity to develop a new workforce that is digitally driven and diverse.

Lastly, there is a need to increase profitability so that continued investment in the digital transformation is possible. Phil Brown, the Chief Executive of Causeway, cited this as one reason why the industry has lagged behind technologically, specifically mentioning the cycle of low-productivity and low-profitability as challenges to the industry.

Notwithstanding this, an encouraging 81% of respondents in the survey reported that they would, in fact, be making greater efforts to implement digital changes and improvements to their businesses in the construction industry within the next 12 months. In order to fully embrace the technologies and digital transformation, it is necessary to harness and employ web-enabled, intuitive, mobile technology that allows data to be easily accessed and shared on the front line and all the way through the business.

Time will tell exactly how and when the industry fully embraces digital transformation, but as Phil Brown says “in today’s mobile and digitally-enabled world, success will increasingly be found”.


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3 Tech innovations transforming facilities

Technology is having a huge impact on many aspects of our everyday lives and so it comes as no surprise that technological advances are now also transforming facilities management. Three technologies in particular - drones, robots and advanced access control - are leading to rapid changes in the way in which facilities managers are planning and implementing security in their buildings. white drone in sky

Ensuring that the occupants of the building for which they are responsible feel safe, secure and content is a primary concern of any facilities management professional. Embracing technology to improve security and tackle issues is a forward-thinking and efficient approach. However, it’s vital to be aware of the challenges new technology may bring, and how best to deal with them.

We have taken a quick look at three state-of-the-art approaches to building security and the issues surrounding them.

1. Drones

Drones can provide unrivalled views of an area which would simply not otherwise be possible. They can easily and effectively be used to conduct thorough security patrols. Equally, the technology may also be used for other non-surveillance purposes, such as roof-top inspections.

However, their availability and ease of use which is so advantageous is also a potential downside. Just as drones can be used internally to monitor a building, they could be used by others external to an organisation for more sinister purposes, such as spying or for gaining illegal access to computer systems.

With the ever-increasing number of drones - commercial and private - in operation, it is essential that those working in facilities management understand this technology and the advantages and risks that it can bring.

Thankfully, where drones may pose a security risk for a building, there are detection and monitoring systems available. These will sense the presence of drones within a designated area and enable suitable responses to be taken.

2. Robots

No longer limited to futuristic sci-fi films, the use of robots is becoming a very real option for security, providing additional ‘eyes and ears’ and a very visual deterrent for anybody considering committing a crime.

Last year, a New York City airport became the first major airport in the country to deploy a robot security guard. Robotic security guards have been used in places such a stadiums and shopping centres but, to date, have been met with mixed emotions.

Concerns have been raised as to the capability and accuracy of artificial intelligence. However, there is no doubting that the technology is constantly improving and is here to stay. Robots are certainly a technology trend for anybody working in facilities to keep an eye on.

3. Advanced Access Control

The access control market is another technology predicted for explosive growth in the coming years. From an increase in the use of biometrics to facial recognition, the technology surrounding access control is becoming more and more sophisticated.

Like many other new technologies, there are privacy concerns surrounding the use of personal data and the willingness of people to use this to gain access to places of work. However, those in favour counter that such technology is already widely embraced by mobile-phone users.

Whether or not this technology is appropriate for a particular workplace could well be a cultural issue that those working in facilities need to consider.


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.”