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BLOG by Paolo Gambino, EuroFM Ambassador Luxembourg: FM services and the challenges of post-covid “flexibility

May 1, 2024

In the realm of Corporate Real Estate, the provision of high-quality and reliable FM Services hinges on a solid knowledge of your customer’s needs and habits to ensure a correct sizing of the service and a proper deployment of infrastructures and resources.

In the pre-pandemic era – with a 100% presence on-site policy for most companies – anticipating staff’s needs was relatively an “easy” task, and the FM Services offer was essentially dimensioned based on concrete and very regular historical data (such as staff presence in the office, attendance to company restaurants and cafeterias, parking occupancy, etc.).

Nowadays everything has changed!

One of the main challenges for FM Managers consists of responding to a continuously “variable” demand, affecting the ability to predict staff habits and needs in an accurate way.

Take Catering Services, for instance: staff presence varies every day in the office and – although we can identify some trends showing for example lower figures on Mondays and Fridays … no surprise – still it is quite challenging to establish a regular and consistent approach in terms of “sizing” of the offer and number of FM resources to be deployed on-site. This leads potentially to situations where FM Managers and their Providers tend to conservatively over-shoot in terms of quantities, resulting inevitably in wasted resources (not only food but time and number of personnel as well).

In a previous BLOG by Sean Gibbons (BLOG by Sean Gibbons, EuroFM Ambassador UK: Measuring workplace performance in the post-pandemic world • EuroFM) another very relevant topic has been explored in the context of post-pandemic, highlighting the need to establish an improved framework to “measure” workplace performance as we all transition toward more sustainable and hybrid ways of working.

How should we tackle this situation?

This is not a perfect science, however in my view there are essentially two main aspects to be considered:

  • Firstly, introducing “flexibility” in contracts with external FM suppliers has become essential. The traditional volumes-based approach used to determine the size of the service is no longer 100% valid. It is important to establish more flexible terms, for example by including contractual scenarios giving the Providers the possibility to best tailor their services based on the actual demand and its variations.
  • Secondly, we need more reliable data. In the era of digitalization, companies must rely more on data. Measuring staff habits through sensors has now become an accessible technology for all, however most organizations are still behind in terms of digitizing their workplace and facilities. This results in the inability to monitor staff demands and habits in an accurate and consistent way.

In conclusion, I believe that – despite the uncertainties lying ahead – this is a very exciting moment for the FM Managers, having the possibility to explore new technologies and tools that can enable us to work in a different and more productive way. Focusing on customer needs and at the same time responding to a growing need of integration between physical infrastructures and data, ultimately leading to a more sustainable and efficient way of managing our facilities.

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