FM matchmaking

Magenta’s Cathy Hayward looks back at FM Inspired, an annual meet-the-buyers event for the facilities sector that never fails to deliver a strong content programme.  

If you’ve ever been speed-dating, you’ll know that it’s revolutionised the dating experience. Instead of spending an evening meeting one potential partner – which can be an excruciating experience if you don’t get on – you meet up to 20 people in short chats which last between three to eight minutes. You increase your chances of meeting The One, and there are no awkward silences with The Wrong Ones. Naturally the business world has followed suit with corporate speed-dating events springing up across the UK since it was invented in the late 90s.

The team at FM Inspired have perfected the corporate speed dating model over the last few years and yesterday’s event, held at Ascot Racecourse, was one of the best yet. With a theme of ‘employees as consumers’, the speed-dating element that funds the day was interspersed with strong educational content.

A panel debate including FMs from the aviation, banking and PR industries agreed that while employees were increasingly treated as consumers in the workplace, it was important to get the basics right – whether that be bacon butties for aircraft engineers or Thursday beers for PR execs – before introducing anything new and shiny. For many individuals, the workplace might not be the thing that makes them want to work for the organisation, but a poor-quality workplace will definitely put them off. “It’s a hygiene factor,” said Antony Wiltshire at PR firm Edelman.

What really sets FM Inspired apart is peers sharing with peers. The event included three case studies of workplace developments. The first, Stephen Sullivan at Paddy Power Betfair’s ongoing project to go 100% agile in the London and Dublin offices, included some fantastic examples of communication and engagement with occupiers. “You have to show people how they will benefit from the new environment or they won’t engage,” he said. Sullivan has his work cut out with the clear desk policy as one employee has 50 Marvel characters permanently displayed on his desk.

Chris Higgins at GSK talked the 70-strong audience through the company’s Workplace Performance Hub, an experiential space where GSK is testing out the impact of different environments on people’s cognitive abilities. This kind of rigorous scientific approach might be de rigeur in the pharma sector but it in its infancy in FM, and all the more impressive for it.








Another speaker – Christopher Roberts, the FM at Computershare – talked about one of his favourite topics: social value. He got the audience discussing the different ways they could help their organisations to make a difference in terms of the environment, the community, improving inclusion and through the supply chain.

The highlight of the day for many – a tour around Ascot including the Royal Box – was preceded by a fascinating talk from Liz Pattinson who heads up capital projects at the racecourse. She talked about how Ascot works with the local community so they can benefit from their famous neighbour. But it was her stats around Royal Ascot which had the audience most entertained. Racegoers purchase 51,000 bottles of champagne and 160,000 jugs of Pimms to wash down 5,000 kilos of salmon and 10,000 angus steaks over the five days. All of that creates quite a mess which needs 3,000 cleaners working on 24-hour cycles to clean it up.

Hopefully the FM Inspired guests left the racecourse a little cleaner, certainly more inspired, and with some potential new relationships to nurture. The next event is on 3rd October 2019 at Twickenham.

Cathy Hayward is founder and managing director of Magenta Associates.


Ben Keeley