Maxwell Stephens

What next for FM? FM Insights from Elliott Chase.

If there is one thing that FM knows a lot about, it’s change. Change has been the story of facilities management since its earliest days.

That’s especially true in the UK – widely regarded as the most mature market in the world: the whole concept of FM as ‘a thing’ grew out of evolution here, and that pattern of development has never let up. Consider what we’ve seen over the years in service models, service scope, contract types, customer expectations, mergers & acquisitions…. This business may go relatively quiet from time to time, but it does not stop changing.


Change and uncertainty go hand-in-hand, of course, and either one can cause the other. At one end of the spectrum we might have the anxiety a security guard feels when he or she learns that a new service company has won the contract that covers their work site. At the other, concerns about supplier stability and service continuity can cause the government to redefine its policies and procedures around multi-million pound outsourcing contracts. FM has to be able to cope with that entire spectrum and respond positively: if any supplier can’t, it probably won’t last long.

Change is rarely a black and white concept, but more often a mix of shades of grey as whatever good there is is almost certain to be blended with bad, or at least less good… at the very least, there is likely to be disruption which will entail cost and/or upset some people. Technology promises good things for FM: increased efficiency, new capabilities, higher service standards; but it probably also means expensive kit, new training needs, maybe fewer jobs. Outsourcing itself is a proven, beneficial management strategy; but it can result in job losses, an unbalanced risk split, and some staff on what can be perceived to be unfair terms & conditions.


Coping with this mixed picture is what business management is all about. And the challenges facing managers – across the board, but especially in FM – seem particularly plentiful these days.


So, how are you coping? Optimistic because there are plenty of opportunities around, too? Pessimistic because the short-term, at least, looks just too uncertain? Or neutral because you are getting on fine while you wait for the future to become a little clearer?


Elliott Chase
Managing Editor, i-FM

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