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Leading With Purpose – Facilities Management for a Post-Pandemic World

Leading With Purpose – Facilities Management for a Post-Pandemic World
01 March 2021
 

CEO of Mace Operate, Ross Abbate, discusses the challenges of moving from a facilities management to a workplace experience approach.

Abbate has 25 years of FM experience under his belt, and has taken Mace's facilities management division through phenomenal growth – expanding its service offer, taking the business into over 30 countries and continually growing the headcount and turnover. Starting his career as an electrical engineer, Abbate has managed FM operations for BP and a well-known Australian FM provider. He has been with Mace since 2007.

 

"The challenge now for the FM industry is to develop models that are increasingly flexible, creating workplace experiences on behalf of clients that are themselves adapting to a new world."

 

From Building Maintenance to Remote Soft Services 

 

Facilities management has undergone a transformation in the past 12 months, on a scale that I can’t see happening again for decades. The fact that all of our clients globally have had to adapt their operations to new ways of working, means that our sector had to change too – but it’s also an opportunity to lead.

For the radical transformation of facilities management tomorrow, we have to explore the potential of existing technologies and opportunities today. From addressing climate change to tapping into tech innovation and overhauling building operations, we can redefine the boundaries of ambition in our industry.

Starting March 2020, while the coronavirus pandemic was resulting in lockdowns around the world and more people working from home, our industry had to develop a remote soft services offer almost overnight. It was not about building maintenance anymore – we had to create the workplace experience wherever people chose to work.

In reality, all organisations had to adapt quickly in order to survive. The challenge now for the FM industry is to develop models that are increasingly flexible, creating workplace experiences on behalf of clients that are themselves adapting to a new world. And as economies recover and growth accelerates, all building operations have to gradually move towards zero carbon emissions so the impact of recovery on the environment is minimal.

 

Crisis Recovery and Growth

 

We have to think in a purposeful way about crisis recovery and growth - some markets are well ahead like South East Asia, and some will need more time to emerge from the pandemic. Clients will have different requirements depending on where they operate and how their needs might have changed but as FM providers we also have to keep an eye on the bigger goals. How do we operate workplaces sustainably? Are there any technologies that can improve energy efficiency? Or even broader - is your workplace strategy inclusive?

We have to lead with purpose.

The workplace vision of yesterday does not apply anymore because the way we think about what the workplace is has completely changed. Being flexible in helping clients achieve these sustainability targets is key. To do this, I see an increasing role for outsourcing models, which can help tailor any kind of workplace service to cater to different business needs and provide the flexibility everyone is looking for

Traditional FM offers can only adapt so much especially in countries that are still trying to contain the coronavirus. With disruptive policy changes still ahead, office spaces have to be managed in a flexible way. Being able to count on a list of trusted and multiple suppliers can help handle unforeseen disruption.

I also see it as a good way to contribute to social value. We want all types of suppliers, (including social enterprises, small and medium-sized businesses) to compete in providing the best service and the most sustainable outcomes, and an outsourcing model gives them the incentive to do so.

Finally, our role and the industry’s will be increasingly connected to technological advances. Keeping people in the workplace safe and connected will continue to be a priority, and we can rely on tech products to achieve this. From self-cleaning surfaces to contactless technology, a workplace experience strategy needs to have it all.

So, to respond to these challenges forcing facilities management to become a more holistic workplace experience provider, Mace launched a new 2026 Business Strategy, setting ambitious targets to help our clients reduce carbon emissions by more than one million tonnes and support them in growing sustainably. We’ve outlined a radical vision for the workplace of the future, with technology integrated across our service offer.

Mace’s Operate business has always challenged convention, but our new purpose, to redefine the boundaries of ambition, sets us on a path of disruption in the sector that can help our clients thrive and operate the built environment in a sustainable way.

Facilities management has now the opportunity to lead the workplace experience revolution, and it must do so by addressing the big challenges of our generation: climate change and economic recovery.

Picture: a photograph of Ross Abbate

Article written by Ross Abbate | Published 01 March 2021

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