(Written by Thomas Parker)
My favourite thing about this event was that the entire experience was an FM showcase. From being served by the catering staff on the train; to being greeted by the hotel reception staff; to having my ticket checked as I entered the expo I encountered FM in action.
And what better place to host an FM event than the NEC, the UK’s biggest exhibition and events venue, with over 182,000 square metres of indoor space, 34 conference and meeting rooms, 20 halls, and an arena.
The expo itself showcased a myriad of services and technology, from pest hunting hawks and banana shaped trip signs, to unmanned aerial vehicles and AED defibrillators. With over 60 exhibitors from just about every FM service, there was plenty to see.
But the best part for me (and not just because Magenta helped organise them) were the seminars. Between all of the sales pitches and networking conversations, the chance to sit down and hear from industry professionals was greatly appreciated.
These were some of the highlights from the seminar sessions:
A Living Wage and travel to work time debate kicked off the day. The popularity of this session clearly demonstrated the impact and importance these issues will have on the industry. The session was Chaired by Simon Iatrou (i-FM.net) with contributions from the panellists, Caroline Reilly (Living Wage Foundation), Lisa Sheppard (Facilicom), Guy Pakenham (Cordant Cleaning) and Guy Stallard (KPMG). Despite the difficulties of implementing this, all the speakers concluded with one united message: the living wage is good for staff and business.
Paul Bagust (RICS) introduced three of the latest RICS strategic FM case studies. Joining him were: Guy Stallard discussing the Living Wage’s impact on the FM image; John Garrett (NHS Property Services) looking at how merging assets and FM can produce efficiency and flexibility; and Simon Carter (National Grid) exploring the legacy of smart working practices.
In Greg Davies’ (Assurity Consulting) legislation update, themed around iconic pop star Adele, he mastered the art of promoting what can be a dry subject in an unusual, upbeat and engaging manner.
An interactive coaching session from Liz Kentish (Kentish and Co.) taught us to share our positivity, to accept compliments (we deserve them after all) and to just say thank you.
The second debate of the event saw Cathy Hayward (Magenta) chair a discussion on vested outsourcing. Julie Kortens (BIFM), Julie Jackson (OCS), Scott Newland (European Customer Synergy), James Woods (Orchard Consulting) and Jerry Kane (Bellrock) offered a variety of definitions for vested outsourcing, which is unsurprising as this is a relatively new concept in FM. However, some felt that it had existed for some time, although not necessarily under this banner, as all good contracts should look to share values, while others felt that existing contracts did not allow the freedom required for vested outsourcing to be realised. The debate concluded with one core message: vested outsourcing is important and is the way forward for the future of FM contracts.
A fascinating presentation from Lesley Reid, Steve Johnstone and Kellie Jervis outlined the Birmingham Heartlands Hospital’s measures taken to contain and combat the threat of Ebola, demonstrating how FM can be faced with unique, sensitive and sometimes dangerous challenges. We tend to think of the doctors and nurses that worked to help patients of deadly diseases, but often forget the cleaners and maintenance staff who secure the environment and sterilise the wards to prevent the spread of infection. Their presentation demonstrated the (quite literally) life saving duties FM undertakes.
Bob Foley (Servest) gave us an overview of ESOS and where we stand with it now. His seminar offered great insight into the topic and sparked quite a reaction from some of the attendees.
Paul Wyton (Sheffield Hallam University) not only gave us a better understanding of what apprenticeships entail, and what sort of pathways and funding opportunities were available, but also offered a call to action to the audience: the professionals of the industry must do more to promote FM as a viable and worthwhile career path.
Julie Kortens gave an inspirational talk about the importance of building personal brand. She offered suggestions of how to do this and gave examples from her own career of how not to do it. The presentation was fun, informative and, most importantly, realistic.
Rudi du Plessis (LCMB) finished the day by making attendees think about sustainability, without defaulting to carbon emissions. I had never paused to think about the vast amounts of other resources, such as food, that we waste.
Chris Moriarty (Leesman Index) opened the final day of the seminar programme with data from the Leesman Index to show how a workplace can hamper staff productivity. Using specific examples, Chris demonstrated how the workplace needed to be developed to promote a less constrained working environment.
Cathy Hayward (Magenta) chaired a debate which saw Anne LennoxMartin (FMP360) and Wendy Sutherland (BIFM Procurement SIG) go head-to-head over contract measures. While Wendy emphasised the importance of good, relevant key performance indicators, Anne suggested that using arbitrary numbers to ‘score’ KPIs wasn’t enough.
Lunch was one to remember when attendees were invited to make their own insect canapés and take part in a ‘Bug Challenge’. Diana Spellman (Partners In Purchasing) explained why insects are a sustainable and healthier alternative to traditional meats proteins. Her reasoning was undeniable but having munched through a handful of mealworms, I still need some convincing.
Dave Whittle (Positive Response) discussed the hidden problem of violence and threats against staff and the technology available to help protect lone workers. Using audio tapes taken from real retail sector situations, Dave delivered a powerful presentation that illustrated why employees need support, and the audience were clearly looking for ways to to help and support their own staff.
A fitting end to the three day programme was a presentation from the team that provides FM to the NEC. Paul Thrupp (OCS) and Steve Neal (NEC) demonstrated the variety of challenges faced by facilities managers and how they can be overcome through shared values.
Between the exhibits, the seminars and seeing FM in practice at the NEC, there was a great deal to take away from Facilities Management 2016. A strong message resonated across the three days that the future of FM lies in greater collaboration and a greater awareness of the workplace, whether it be to promote productivity or to ensure sustainability.
Here’s looking forward to Facilities Management 2017.