The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Lockdown Opportunities –  Tap Into Your Home-Grown Knowledge Bank

Lockdown Opportunities –  Tap Into Your Home-Grown Knowledge Bank
23 April 2020

For many, the current lockdown presents us with a slower and more considered way of working. We might view things with a deeper sense of what’s critical to our business, or take an overall look at things we have simply never had time to consider. This time allows some the opportunity to address operational or cultural issues within our organisations, and to search for improvements or solutions.

In the second of a four-part series of opinion pieces, Scott Fortune and Mike Green discuss the issues in FM with talent management and data best practices, and suggest ways the lockdown might allow FMs to address these areas.

If you didn’t catch the first in the series, you can read it here.

Mike Green is a seasoned construction and FM professional, with thirty-eight years experience specialising in FM building services, consultancy and contracting.  Green is also a committee member of the CIBSE FM Group and Chair of the Central London Maintenance Association.

Scott Fortune is an Interim Facilities Director and Transformation Leader with over twenty years of experience across B2B, B2C, FM, banking, transport, public, consulting, SME and corporate sectors.


"The demand for cleaning and property teams leaves many other FM team members with time on their hands. These people are your 'Knowledge Bank'"


Lockdown Opportunities –  Tap Into Your Home-Grown Knowledge Bank


In our first article, we mentioned tapping into the “Knowledge Bank”. But what is a “Knowledge Bank”?

During periods of growth and in the hurry to mobilise new contracts, we either employ new staff to bolster the team or gain additional resources through TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings [Protection of Employment] Regulations) with a new contract from the employment of the outgoing contractor. 

Either way, we buy-in skills, knowledge and experience to some degree. The right skills, at the right time and more importantly, at the right price.  But rarely do we make an effort to capture the extent of the individual’s sector and specific experience.

More often than not, they arrive on-site to do a very specific task or set of tasks, and a single function, Facilities Management still operates the “Henry Ford model” of operations: one task for one person. We ignore the background, knowledge and experience that made us employ them in the first place. They get lost in the function and are not given time to review the whole process. 

For example, an SME (an FM provider) might have around fifty employees, each with twenty years of experience. That’s 1,000 years of combined experience in the bank that could be tapped into. But they only take advantage of the task and process the person was actually employed for.

They do not cross-pollinate skills, experience or knowledge, due to tight margins and the speed in which FM operates. They work in a divide and conquer style in a dog-eat-dog industry. The opinion seems to be: “cross-pollination is for the bees and not for talent knowledge.”


"Ready your ship" for the return to work


COVID-19 has created an increase in demand for cleaning and property teams (known as the asset teams), and the client looks to us for guidance. They ask us what to do and when, and they ask for guarantees to protect their staff from this horrible invisible killer.

The demand for cleaning and property teams leaves many other FM team members with time on their hands. These people are your “Knowledge Bank”, with time that is FOC to you. In essence,  we have the opportunity to turn to industry leaders, job workers and staff wranglers to ready our ship for the return to work.

There are many predictions as to the likely aftermath of the current lockdown. The global markets are bracing for a recession, and some small business owners are predicting they will not survive with the mass unemployment and the drive to cut costs. History has shown us that the first budget to be slashed during any economic crisis is the FM budget. 

As we suggested in our previous article, forced new working practices have been race tested and proven. Staff are working from home, in some cases productivity has increased,  IT systems are creaking, but coping  and our internet services providers are managing the strain of the data usage pull. Couple this revelation with the impending recession in our clients’ world and it is highly likely we will see them turn to their providers to re-configure their business operations accordingly.

Our talent pool is and ready, willing and able to show you what they can do. There are two main subjects we need to address:

  • Our own business, its structure, infrastructure  and future offering
  • Our clients’ businesses and the likely changes in their requirements and work practices 

On the second point, much of this will be dealt with in the next article.


Re-strategising with your team


Every employee with “manager”,  “team leader” or “supervisor” in their job title should be allowed to contribute to the exercise of the re-strategy. To refine, define and cross-pollinate ideas, knowledge and experience to achieve one great goal. That goal is continued employment and the survival of the FM industry.

So where do we start? Well, largely that is up to you, you are best placed to know where your business either needs a little TLC. Some areas you might like to look at are:

  • CAFM – people are not the sole entity of today's “Knowledge Bank”. Your data is too. You have a good 3 weeks at least to clean up and make sure all the data you have on your business CAFM is relevant and accurate, cleanse the content and remove unnecessary waste data. Remember, technology was coming at us like a train before Coronavirus.  It is almost certain this will only gather pace
  • Top-down structure – look at overheads versus value. You are about to enter a recession remember, now might be a good time to cut some fat out of the business
  • Operational offering – this is likely to change dramatically. You need to imagine your client’s future requirements and take a new offering to them before they ask for it


The problem with managing data


How many times have you asked for data, only to be told that someone has it on a spreadsheet? Or that the property team has that on their system, but that’s a system you can’t access due to licencing issues, internal egos, or simply not knowing who to ask.

Perhaps the data is spread around 37 individual databases, spreadsheets and notepads around the business.  We are poor at collating and keeping data pools live, relevant and fit for purpose. Things like version control and governance take a back seat leaving us wide open to costly mistakes. There’s the threat of an audit, breaches in safety and compliance and the dreaded GDPR legislation. We only guarantee that our data is correct, the client might not care where the data is kept, so long as it is accurate, up to date and relevant.

As stated in our first article, time, money and effort is spent on writing reports for clients. Thousands of operating hours are lost whilst we search the business for the data we need. In most cases, we cannot clarify if we are collating the accurate version and if it’s what the client wants. How many times have you searched for data, only to be told that it’s on someone’s laptop, and that person is on holiday? This happens a surprising amount.

Now is the time to sanitise what you have, in a data amnesty. Have the team collate their information, no matter what the format, state or validity status. No judgement, no finger-pointing and no comebacks. Baseline, filter and categorise their information, collate, pollinate and start creating the ultimate data pool.  

So, in light of these thoughts, let’s bring it back to the basics. People,  process, customer, finance and realistic KPIs.

Picture: Person reading a notebook

Article written by Mike Green and Scott Fortune | Published 23 April 2020


Related Articles

Lockdown Opportunities – Time To Reflect? 

The pandemic has meant a lot of parts of our lives have come to a standstill, and the facilities and workplace management sector is no different. Some are facing huge...

 Read Full Article
Lockdown Opportunities – Defining And Redefining The FM Supply Model

As we start to look towards a post-lockdown environment, a new appreciation of the key role that FM providers play has emerged.   In the third of this...

 Read Full Article
Contractual Disputes – How to Deal with COVID-19 Litigation 

As the UK goes in and out of lockdown, the legal system is braced for a sharp increase in contractual disputes. So much so, that the Cabinet Office has expressed concern,...

 Read Full Article
HSE COVID-Secure Spot Checks Continue Throughout UK

As Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire move into tier three of lockdown, the Health and Safety Executive will continue to operate safety inspections to check for...

 Read Full Article
What Does Tier Three Lockdown for Manchester Actually Mean?

As Greater Manchester moves into the highest tier of lockdown restrictions, we look at what this actually means for residents and businesses. Manchester will move to a...

 Read Full Article
Facilities Managers Should Introduce “Stricter” COVID Measures

With COVID-secure guidelines set to become a legal obligation, Bureau Veritas has advised that facilities managers must step up with a more robust and formalised...

 Read Full Article
PM Tightens Restrictions and Re-Prioritises Working From Home

In an address to MPs today, Boris Johnson has tightened COVID-19 restrictions in England, calling on people to work from home where possible and pausing plans for...

 Read Full Article
Venues Face Fines of up to £4K if Rule of Six is Not Enforced

Leisure and hospitality venues in England are legally required to enforce the rule of six from today, or risk a fine of up to £4,000. Designated venues will also...

 Read Full Article
New Grants Available for Businesses Affected By Local Lockdowns

Ministers have announced that businesses in England that are required to shut because of local interventions will now be able to claim up to £1,500 per property...

 Read Full Article
The Rule of Six – Will it Affect Employee Confidence When Returning to Work?

Boris’ new rule of six doesn’t apply to workplaces, but how might the tightening of lockdown measures affect general confidence when returning to...

 Read Full Article