To keep serving clients the best way possible, facility suppliers now more than ever have to understand what their challenges are and what the future will look like. It’s up to bouwens& to react to this situation adequately.
In February we organized a session together with a client that has been using our services for over ten years: the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM). In this digital meeting we spoke with their facility management about the impact COVID-19 is having on the world of facility services. What happened, what changed, and what will the future look like? Here’s a review with some of our findings.
#1 The office is more important than ever
Businesses and organizations asked themselves two important questions during the first lockdown: how do we stay in business with employees at home and how can they return to working at the office safely and healthily. One of the challenges concerning remote working was to not let the physical distance result in a diminished personal connection. Technology made working from home a viable option for many people and, in most cases, closed offices did not result in a shutdown of operations.
However, organizations quickly noticed that COVID-19 is not the end of the office as we know it. On the contrary, as the pandemic lingered, more and more employees and employers saw the downsides to working at home. The office and the office environment turned out to be essential. We clearly see that the office is becoming a professional clubhouse. A dynamic environment where people exchange ideas and teams achieve their best results. This crucial function of the office makes hospitality and facility services more important than ever. The modern office space should be comfortable, safe, and inspiring. Facility suppliers play a central role in this ambition.
#2 Now it’s up to the specialist
The past ten years we saw a tendency within the world of facility services to grow and expand. This urge revolved around adding new services. Those who offered reception services got into catering, and cleaning companies decided to provide security services. This led to the rise of large full-service providers; jacks of all trades. In times of economic prosperity this model seems to work just fine. Customers are less critical toward the quality of service, and less concerned about costs. It does sound attractive, a one-stop-shop for all your facility needs.
It turns out that welcoming and assisting visitors is a different skill than organizing food and beverages. And a good cleaner does not necessarily make for a professional security agent. These realizations seem to sink in with those on the client side of facility services as well. We expect the demand for specialized services – especially reception, security, cleaning, and catering – to rise in the coming years. This is the age of the specialist.
#3 The ‘one team’ model
As a consequence of trend #2 we see the ‘one team’ model becoming increasingly popular. The term refers to a close cooperation between different facility suppliers and their employees. Usually they are like islands, they hardly interact. The increased demand for efficiency due to the pandemic forces them to work within the limits, yet outside of the framework of their own fields. This means that facility specialists help each other, lend a hand where needed, and actively share information in order to improve all services.
The fact that the office is becoming ever more important requires a custom approach when it comes to hospitality and facility services. To meet this demand, suppliers are becoming partners, rather than just providers. With the client, and with each other! A close and personal cooperation is the only way to become irresistible to clients and employees.
#4 Balance between technological progress and a human touch
This is crucial to have an office environment function in an optimal fashion, just as technology facilitates remote working. Smart registration systems can contribute to an office’s hospitality in a customer and employee friendly way. However, technology is support. The so called human touch – a warm welcome, a service minded staff, an eye for detail - is simply irreplaceable. Organizations want to offer their employees, clients, and partners a distinctive experience, especially after the pandemic. In our vision, Facility Management 3.0 means offering the right balance between technology and a human touch.
If COVID-19 gave us anything, it’s a catalysis of developments that make businesses and organizations better. Creating the ultimate office experience is definitely one of them.