Facility E Connect

Flexible working has become a widespread practice in modern workplaces

Mr. Ashish Podar, Executive Director, Facility Management, CBRE talks about his organization and areas it specializes in, shares his views on changing trends in new-age workplaces, the kind of facilities solutions that are gaining importance and his advice to Facilities Managers to ensure safety and hygiene for employees and also on how to ensure safety and hygiene in transport of goods and services for the employees involved.

The Indian Facilities Management (FM) industry is in the midst of rapid development. The anticipated growth in the market can be attributed to:

  1. Please tell us about your organization and areas it specializes in.
    CBRE Group, Inc., a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Los Angeles, is the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm (based on 2019 revenue). The company has more than 100,000 employees (excluding affiliates) and serves real estate investors and occupiers through more than 530 offices (excluding affiliates) worldwide.

    CBRE was the first International Property Consultancy to set up an office in India in 1994. Since then, the operations have grown to include more than 10,000 professionals across 10 offices with assignments in over 80 cities in India. As a leading international property consultancy, CBRE provides clients with a wide range of real estate solutions, including Strategic Consulting, Valuations/Appraisals, Capital Markets, Agency Services and Project Management. The guiding principle at CBRE is to provide strategic solutions that make real estate holdings more productive and economically efficient for its clients across all service lines.

  2. What is your view on changing trends in new-age workplaces? What Facilities solutions are gaining importance?
    Macro factors such as demographics, technology and social changes are transforming the way the workplace is viewed as well as what people expect from it. Flexible working has become a widespread practice in modern workplaces. People’s expectations from the amenities and services that companies provide are increasing at a quick pace. Employees now want a high-quality workplace experience which makes their lives easier and is tailored to suit their needs.

    Technology is also redefining the workplace. It has enabled companies to digitize processes and make data-driven decisions about how to manage and use space. Digital systems are now increasingly becoming embedded in organizations across the world, and helping companies revolutionize the way they manage and use offices, manufacturing sites, warehouses, etc.

    The COVID-19 outbreak has also acted as a catalyst for change and has reiterated the need to pay attention to how facilities are being managed and services are being delivered. All built environments, owned or leased offices, warehouses, retail stores or manufacturing facilities, now require careful consideration and tailored plans.

    Employee’s expectations from the amenities and services that companies provide are increasing at a quick pace, with more focus on health and wellness at the workplace. As governmental restrictions permit the return to work and businesses are broadly allowed to reopen workplaces, occupiers should be prepared to determine their own thresholds and policies for welcoming employees, customers and visitors back to their offices and places of business. This may include factors like widespread testing, reliable and sustained accessibility to key cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment, the ability to support social distancing and frequent cleaning, regulatory requirements and implementation of best practices.

  3. In the current scenario, what advice would you give Facilities Managers to ensure safety and hygiene for employees?
    With a key focus on health and wellness, organizations are increasingly investing more in the health and well-being of their employees and prioritizing it on their agenda. The pandemic has redefined employee experience and expectations completely. As organizations prepare for their reopening, there is a growing need for employers and occupiers to assure and demonstrate to their associates about their safe return to the workplaces.

    The focus of FM professionals is to provide wellness programs that boost productivity, attract talent and reduce the rate of people falling sick. The workplace also must increasingly accommodate different generations and the FM providers must balance the needs of the different age groups, keeping in mind the well-being of all.

    In the post Covid-19 scenario, there would be an increased focus on new services and activities to facilitate employee’s return to their workplaces. Occupiers should conduct a holistic review of business requirements and portfolio implications to assess and optimize their medium- to long-term positions and options considering anticipated changes to workplace. It is critical to establish a centralized, multidisciplinary task force as soon as possible to help plan and oversee recovery efforts across the portfolio. FM providers and occupiers must work together to settle on a balanced approach that builds in greater resilience by introducing a spectrum of physical and virtual solutions based on business needs.

  4. Logistics forms the backbone of any organization. How to ensure safety and hygiene in transport of goods and services and the employees involved in this process?
    Safety of everyone should be the topmost priority. Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, in order to procure, transfer and receive good/services companies would be required to immediately revisit the management and behavior protocols. Here are some aspects that can help ensure safety and hygiene while handling goods:
    • Material is to be received only at the designated area
    • Consider holding areas where material can remain isolated for periods before being taken for usage
    • Invest in sanitization equipment, processes and personnel who are trained to carry it out.
    • The receiver is recommended to handle the material using proper PPE’s like masks and gloves
    • For multi tenanted building, it is recommended to schedule material movement in consideration with the capacity of service lift lobby
    • Tenants are recommended to be bring their own trolleys and keep it properly sanitized before and after the use Cleanliness/sanitization of service lift is recommended to be done at increased frequency
    • Guest elevators must not be used for transportation of goods

  5. Facilities India Expo is going to be launched in Mumbai this year. Any piece of advice you would like to offer? Facilities Management has emerged as an important service responsible for the safety and security of both the built environment and the people. Covid-19 has proven that Facilities Management service providers have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders in ensuring that people work in a safe and hygienic environment. Expos play an important role in bringing all the stakeholders together and help in formulating and establishing standard and best practices. Today, more than ever, companies are looking at new ideas and ways of implemented change and bringing efficiency. The expo can be critical knowledge bridge for companies. We look forward to some healthy, progressive and engaging interactive sessions during the Expo and hope that various nuances of this important sector will be discussed at length. We also hope that it will act as an important bridge between the service providers and the market and help in generating awareness about this sector.

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