The Facilities Manager wears multiple hats and it becomes imperative of him to ensure safety, comfort, functionality, professionalism coupled with compassion
We spoke to Mahender Singh.R, Director – IFMA, INDIA & South East Asia to understand new skills required by facilities managers to adjust to the new normal in facilities management, the role leaders need to play to motivate their teams in the new normal, sectors and services that are going to gain the most in Facilities management in the aftermath of this pandemic and the focus areas for facilities managers going forward.
Interviewed by Adeesh Sharma
What new skills do facilities managers need to adjust to the new normal in facilities management?
IFMA has been doing great research this Covid era and has been in touch with the Fraternity of Professionals and associates understanding the needs from various spheres of the Corporate Real Estate and Facility management part of the business and its associated sectors across nations. This is to ensure that the Facility Manager is on top of things in these scenarios and looked up to ensure he takes informed decisions, for him to act accordingly he is required to be updated constantly to research & innovate at the same time to remain on top of things to support the core objectives of the organization.
The FM wears multiple hats and becomes what is required of him in these times to ensure safety, comfort, functionality, professionalism coupled with compassion, dexterity, technological prudence and human judiciousness not compromising in professionalism and quality. This predominantly is inculcated part of its credential offerings which form the basis of Competence it teaches through its Certification and credential programs.
In the current scenario, the skill sets are juggled a little and some take more prominence with the new normal.
- Technology Interface & Operational Excellence: Digital, technological information on Facility management (FITM) is the main skillset to find a creative combination of technological tools to best fit the needs of the facility. we need to rely on technology to help keep our people and assets safe in the context of global pandemics. We require better vetting and tracking of individuals like employees, visitors, and contractors who set foot on our premises for service management, delivery, and reporting.
- Data & analytics: This skill will be in demand to support the performance of the company’s employees, corporate Facility Managers and service providers. The future facility management value proposition will extend from just managing assets and buildings to managing spaces and ultimately support employees’ performance . adding value as a facility manager means analyzing things like facilities spend, contractor performance, and quality of service need to proactively identify cost outliers and improvement of areas for the built environment sector
- Human Factors: A majority of the responsibilities of a facility manager focuses on creating a happier and healthier work environment. So it’s imperative to put yourself into the shoes of your workers and facility guests. Facility Management is all about the employees working for you within all FM services, the different stakeholders, the end users, and the guests. To stay competitive, Facility Management towards 2020 needs to be focused on creating personalized service deliveries that support the new ways of working, are more fit-for-purpose and unique from company to company.
- The companies’ strategies, and consequently their workplace strategies, will differ from each other. This will make customers demand a service to their exact, specific needs.
- The personalized service will go beyond managing assets and systems. Customers will require that the service provider understands their business and train the front-line service employees to deliver on this understanding.
- Adaptability: To stay competitive during this new normal, facility managers must adapt to being a passive support functionary to a strategic partner understanding the organisational requirements and accomplish requirements of organisations strategically relevant performance measurement systems for outcomes such as impact on culture, customer satisfaction, changes in external environment, innovation and focus on sustainability and use of workspace more efficiently and constantly innovate to suit the office environment.
- Sustainability: Sustainability will play an important role across all levels of management, the FM will be forced to think on newer deliverables across all available areas beyond existing operational framework of what was happening to what is to be in the future across and follow global focus areas of processes of built environment, including green, well-building etc…
What role would leaders need to play to motivate their teams in the new normal
- Being Compassionate: As a first, the leader needs to be compassionate towards his fellow being around him, understand, communicate and create an atmosphere of listening to people who have faced issues beyond work.
- Corporate Wellness: Create a focus on employee health and mental wellbeing, focus on areas that ought to continue and the learning out of the pandemic.
- Business Strategy: Adapt Ensure the employees understand the need for constant innovation and focus that has risen to see the change in business strategies, human behaviours, financial limitations and new normal on skills developing for a better future. The current situation has given a lesson on life and social wellbeeing beyond materialistic living. Human beings tend to forget this sooner, but then what learning the time has given us all is a matter that will stay in everyones mind. It is important for leaders to lead from the front set an example through personal and upholding his immediate leadership team and their spirit.
- Promote Learning: The ability to unlearn what was, what is and what will be is an important factor for great leadership, the leaders should inculcate a sense of holistic learning not in their area of work but also to learn from cross functional teams supporting their functions which will help them in gaining for the unforeseeable future on business
What sectors and services are going to gain the most in Facilities management in the aftermath of this pandemic?
- In my opinion I don’t see much change in the current business and services, however I feel it’s a mixed basket for the moment considering pressure on expenses, this will give a newer way of thinking business strategies for the FM sector. Iam of the opinion, the business will be more dependent on technological interface and will lean on the leaner model of running businesses by virtue of this new adaptation. Sectors that will become more professionally driven will be manufacturing, airports, educational institutions, Integrated townships, industries in tier two cities is slowly adapting to professionals in this area and are changing from contract based FM to professionally managed services.
What are the focus areas for facilities managers going forward?
- Change is the only constant, this pandemic saw an increasing amount of people who are wanting to invest on themselves to learn and gain knowledge, all the Education batches that were driven by IFMA Credentials and certification programs were full and going stronger. The pandemic has changed the way the an FM would think and competence is certain to supersede experience. This means that there is going to be a demand for qualified professionals in this sector which will challenge their application of experiential learning to a more skill and competence based learning that can be quantified by knowledge that is compared to internationally accepted processes and systems of operations.
- It is the best time for upskilling their professional areas with qualifications that will compliment their area of work and also focus on areas that the FM would want to pursue as an alternate to become multiskilled professionals.