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Impact of COVID-19 on Facility Management

Will COVID-19 mean the end of activity based working? How will relationships and contracts with service providers change? Will COVID-19 alter the way we measure supplier performance? Together with eight facility experts from five different organisations, we investigated the impact of COVID-19 on the future of facility management.

The experts were clear that the time to start the conversation about working from home and to integrate it into the organisation’s culture is now. We noted that a recurring theme, linked to working from home, is mobility. When they think about the shift in transport, most companies agree that the emphasis will be on the element of choice between different mobility packages and the flexibility around them.   

Impact of COVID-19 on Facility Management

Flexibility and sustainability

We learned from the discussions that most organisations already have a short-term plan, which takes into account the guidelines provided by the national Safety Board. Nonetheless, in the medium and long term, many issues remain. The assessment of the impact on open spaces and activity based working is a reasonable concern, but the answers are certainly not obvious as many fundamental aspects such as personnel policy, financial impact, and operational follow-up come together in this complex puzzle. Hence, the question arises whether the facility manager should be more involved and heard in the related strategic decisions. 

Another observation is the renewed spotlight on the principle of best value procurement (BVP) or realising the most value at the lowest price. Where price used to be the focus, in many cases flexibility and sustainability will become more important. In line with this, all organisations indicated that in the future there will be a major shift toward contracts that focus on performance and service level agreements (SLAs), and linked to that, good key performance indicators (KPIs). The shift from speed to quality will result in an increasing number of KPIs related to operational excellence, quality, and the end result as a whole.

As it will become more important to value the staff for the work done, performance management should be organised in a new and creative manner.

Driving strategic policy

The role of the facility manager is becoming more and more prominent and even shifting from an operational to a strategic level. This crisis is an opportunity for the facility manager to integrate the new office environment and the needs of employees in terms of working from home into the corporate culture. However, more flexibility is expected, also with regard to suppliers. The focus will increasingly be on quality and results, and less on a fixed schedule.

We conclude that it is—also—the role of the facility manager to think about the next steps in the medium term: the change in mobility, the layout of the offices, discussing the current contracts and performance management agreements with suppliers.

The facility manager should see this crisis as an opportunity to step up and support the organisation in its strategic policy.

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