Create a safety net now to manage unexpected resourcing challenges

Whether you are embarking on home improvements or managing complicated resourcing plans for an FM team, unexpected problems come up, even with the best planning in place. When I was up a ladder the other day deciding that roofs weren’t actually my thing after all, I started to think about the process we follow when we need competency and capacity quickly. Generally, we work through the following steps, in this order, until we hit upon the right solution:

1. Can I fix this myself (the in-house option)?
2. Who do I know who can save the day (friends/associates/ex-colleagues)?
3. Who do I trust who can recommend someone else (the wider network)?
4. And, if all else fails… Google!

I know from the many conversations I am having with leaders and managers in FM that the landscape is changing rapidly right now. Some teams are reducing in size, others taking on new commitments and all are having to adapt the way they work. At the moment the main focus is on cost management strategies, including identifying risks and planning mitigation. But when the unexpected strikes in a few weeks, months or even years and specialist competency or capacity simply isn’t available in-house, leaders and managers will need to make a choices between failing to deliver and accessing the skills they need from elsewhere. The astute leaders and managers know that non-delivery isn’t a realistic option for their organisation or for their careers. How many operational tasks can be switched off or delayed indefinitely without having a sizeable impact on staff morale, health and safety, client satisfaction? What do you do when the three strategic contract bids all land in the same month and you don’t have the in-house resources to support them all?

At myfm we like to talk and we are keen to get the know you better – now while you are planning; at the point you are wondering if you will need additional resources but are still not quite sure and also when you have a pressing need to plug an urgent gap in your team, yesterday. We have over 200 associates on our books, people we know, many we have had a relationship with for many years and successfully placed on an interim and consultative basis with numerous clients. If the role is so specialist that we don’t have a ready-made solution, we have experience of leveraging our extended networks to find just the right resource to meet your needs. Whether you are reading about our organisation for the first time, or you are already actively engaged with us, let’s make time to catch up and get to know each other a bit better. Because when the time comes, and it will, we would like to help you at 2 or at a push 3, rather than leaving you at the mercy of 4.

Book an informal conversation with Ulf Muller to learn more out myfm by emailing ulf.muller@myfm.co.uk.

Don’t lose the opportunity of new talent because of a freeze on recruitment

That several large and medium sized firms have already put a permanent recruitment freeze in place comes as no great surprise given the growing economic uncertainty and fears of a second wave of Covid-19.

This of course is a well-trodden path for many firms and a technique widely deployed to reduce spend on payroll in the short term, while an assessment of financial stability takes place.

But surely when times get tough that is exactly when you need to be recruiting the right talent to help your business thrive.

We all get the intent with a recruitment freeze – minimise spend and do it fast. But the problem is that this places additional burdens on the remaining workforce and that can take its toll.

If the amount of work individuals take on becomes unreasonable, it will of course have a knock-on effect on productivity and could even lead to corners being cut. Morale can be adversely affected and that is when the best talent may well decide to walk, often straight into the arms of the competition.

So, what if we tell you it is possible to avoid this?

What myfm can do is engage the recruit you’ve found on your behalf, enabling them to start work as planned with your business, on either on a fixed-term contract or by agreeing a daily rate with them, without having to put them on payroll.

As the facilitator, we will take care of formalities such as IR35 assessment and ensure the correct tax and national insurance contribution is made.

If your business recognises the need to access talent now but an employment freeze is stopping you, contact ulf.muller@myfm.co.uk or telephone, 07906 266499 for a confidential chat, or email resourcing@myfm.co.uk.

Return to work – myfm resources available online

Did you miss the two RICS online seminars featuring myfm on preparing workplaces for a safe return to work post Covid-19 ?

If so, take a look at our presentation materials. In Part 1 Julian Harrison and Marcus Newton of myfm tackled management, risk, accountability and social distancing.  Part 2 focused on hygiene, cleaning, hard FM and ventilation with Graeme Fox of BESA and Peter Smith of Principle Cleaning Services.

Both seminars helped signpost the most up-to-date information, guidance and legislation, as well as providing a practical framework for those responsible for the development of safe and effective plans for a return to the workplace. This included looking in some detail at how technology is contributing to return to work plans.

Underpinning all this is myfm’s own Return to Work Guide.  Produced for our clients and associates, we are happy to share this comprehensive document with others. For more information on how to access our guide, or if you have a question for one of our speakers,  contact julian.harrison@myfm.co.uk or mane.lucas@myfm.co.uk.

Please find the downloadable documents here: https://cloud.myfm.co.uk/index.php/s/mZYoiF5mxz8faSa

Join myfm & RICS for two online seminars on planning for a safe return to work

Join myfm speakers Julian Harrison and Marcus Newton for the first of two online seminars, hosted by RICS, on planning for a safe return to work post Covid-19.

In the first session on June 8, Return to Work – Management, Risk, Accountability & Social Distancing – they will help those responsible for managing the workplace (employers, building managers, FMs and service providers) to develop safe and effective return to work planning and management plans.

This initial seminar provides a management approach and practical framework for those responsible for the workplace. It also takes a more in-depth look at building access, occupancy and the movement of people, while managing and monitoring social distancing and reducing the risk of infection through close contact.

To book Part 1 on Monday June 8 from 1pm to 2pm – https://www.rics.org/uk/events/conferences-seminars/cpd-foundation-seminars/return-to-work/online/20200608/

Also watch out for Part 2Return to Work – Hygiene, Cleaning, Hard FM & Ventilation, which takes place on 15th June 2020, from 5.15pm to 6.15pm – https://www.rics.org/uk/events/conferences-seminars/cpd-foundation-seminars/return-to-work-hygiene-cleaning-hard-fm-ventilation/

Free for RICS professionals and a discount of 20% available for myfm associates and clients. To access the discount code contact resourcing@myfm.co.uk.

Julian Harrison is a Business Unit Director at myfm and a senior FM professional with strategic and organisational expertise supported by extensive UK and international operational, technical and sales experience.

Marcus Newton is an electronic security specialist with a reputation for successful leadership and management in the electronic security sector. Marcus has over 25 years industry experience with the FM industry, European businesses, UK Government and blue light organisations.

Returning to work – 8 tips to guide property and facility managers

By myfm Business Unit Director, Julian Harrison

Facilities managers, building managers and occupiers are working night and day to prepare for the gradual lifting of lockdown measures and the reopening of many workplaces.

They know all too well that as plans are prepared to get people back to work, there are many issues to consider before buildings can be safely occupied again.

Some of the obvious topics include how and when social distancing measures should be put in place and how this affects occupancy; the best approach to open up buildings which were mothballed in a hurry and what new regimes will need to be put in place to meet new guidance on cleaning or adaptation of HVAC equipment, or some of the other changes.

Turn on any news programme right now and people will probably be talking about how the world has changed beyond belief. But few will actually have to assimilate and deal with the sheer quantity of new guidance which applies to the preparation required to enable building users to return to their workplace.

This is why as the largest specialist FM consultancy and interim management organisation in the UK, myfm decided to pool our collective expertise on building remobilisation and combine this with that of industry associations, government and subject-matter experts. The result is a comprehensive guide which is designed to help our clients prepare their workplaces. We know that myfm does not have all the answers and even if we did, guidance is changing fast. So, the approach we have taken is to signpost to the latest resources available, help with interpretation of these and provide practical advice on the main topics we think most businesses will need to consider, to prepare their buildings as part of a return to work plan.

The Government has placed emphasis on employers and building managers only opening their workplaces when they believe it is safe to do so, based on a thorough Covid-19 risk assessment. Our 8 top tips shared below are to help you get thinking on this:

  1. Appoint a Covid leader, someone who will be responsible for the coordination of all Covid-related activity, as part of the return to work planning process.
  2. Develop site-specific return to work plans which clearly differentiate between the site rules and the guidance available, so this can be easily updated as it changes.
  3. Your return to work plans should have sections on social distancing, hygiene, PPE and communications, also make sure you refer to government guidance where this exists.
  4. Put in place measures to regularly review government guidelines so you can see and apply changes to policies – careful version control is key.
  5. Be systematic in your identification of stakeholder representatives and accountabilities so there is a consistent and compliant approach applied across all building users.
  6. Also be highly systematic in your approach to communication, especially as key people may be working remotely for some time.
  7. Document your decisions so there is a clear audit trail in place which can be reviewed and scrutinised in future.
  8. Plan to include ongoing monitoring and management steps, including the resolution of issues and non-compliance.

The pandemic has forced businesses in all sectors to adapt at an unprecedented rate. As they have responded to the unfolding situation, the strongest are closely examining long-standing business practices and their use of technology, as they consider how they should adapt to meet the challenges faced. Our full guide also has 10 detailed sections which discuss the innovation and many of the common considerations around both soft and hard services, as well as safety management, people and policies, supply chain and contract and commercial considerations.

Through the myfm team and with over 200 professional associates, many actively involved in industry bodies as well as having direct FM experience, we here to help you plan and deliver your return to work strategy. If you would like us to talk you through our Return to Work Guide in full please speak to your existing myfm contact or Mané Lucas – mane.lucas@myfm.co.uk / +44 (0)7956 119054.

Covid-19: Will it change the skills required in FM?

By Shane Arnold, Business Unit Director, myfm

During a pandemic, it is all too easy to catastrophise and overplay the likely long-term changes once the world establishes a new “normal”. This is simply human nature.

When we are forced to change the way we operate at the speed we have experienced over the past few weeks, we naturally question the way we have done things before and the way we might do things in the future.

Nothing is more important right now than following government advice, staying at home, protecting the NHS and saving lives. But we also need to be considering what the future will look like and the part Facilities Management (FM) will play in helping businesses thrive again.

Within the FM sector, I see it as inevitable that flexibility will be required. New challenges have been presented to businesses operating in both physical and virtual workspaces, ranging from mothballing of sites to a demand to rapidly expand capacity.

The impending partial easing of lockdown measures and the re-opening of certain businesses will necessitate further change and the businesses and sectors which best embrace that change will be the ones which thrive in a post-Coronavirus economy.

The FM sector will be a crucial player in helping businesses succeed so we need to think clearly what change might look like in FM terms and importantly, given we are a people-focused sector, what skills we will need to develop as individuals to emerge even stronger.

Short-term

Clearly, our immediate focus should be on the safe re-opening of workplaces. The following are likely to be essential for this to be successful:

  • Ensuring ownership and co-ordination through the appointment of a Covid-19 leader
  • Reviewing and renewing risk assessments/method statements
  • Regular, effective communication
  • Recording and documenting actions.

During this time, it is likely many businesses will operate with people working from home. That has H&S implications and, even though times are unprecedented, it is important to remember our underpinning statutes, laws and regulations still apply.

For much of this activity, we will rely largely on the existing skillset of good FM providers but we might find capacity is in short supply in a period of transition when demand is high for certain expertise. FM service providers will draw on trusted supply-chain partners and flexible external expertise to ensure changes are planned, delivered and maintained as swiftly and effectively as feasible to avoid further unnecessary disruption.

Longer-term

None of us know what things will look like post-Coronavirus but it seems sensible to assume pressures will continue to keep the built environment to a minimum, while maximising the use of technology to enable effective remote working. Indeed, Jes Staley, Barclays CEO has highlighted a rethink in the bank’s long-term “location strategy” as he can no longer see the need for office blocks full of workers.

We will need to look to technology to a greater extent, for example to help with the remote monitoring and maintenance of workplaces. We should be looking to harness and further develop/accelerate the power of the Internet of Things and the implementation of SMART building solutions, while ensuring any changes to the size, nature and location of the built environment are delivered as seamlessly as possible.

FM professionals are ideally placed to work more closely with managing agents, property managers, external specialist contractors and internal delivery teams to bring together the requirements of these stakeholders and determine agreed outcomes.

Remote working may also bring increased demand in relation to sourcing FM expertise particularly through the interim market. If geography is not a limiting factor given the acceptance that remote working is both possible and preferable, then organisations will be able to access a much wider pool of skilled people to fill roles. The potential impact on cost, productivity, environmental factors and wellbeing such a model could deliver is huge.

Our clients will have a wide spectrum of ideas of what the workplace of tomorrow will look like and the needs of each must be accommodated in our thinking. We will need our solutions to be flexible enough to meet their objectives while maintaining our traditional values of service, professionalism, honesty and collaboration: these will be more important than ever as we deliver changes required as a result of this terrible pandemic.

So, whether you are delivering hard or soft services, part of a delivery team or in the back-office, I would suggest changes are inevitable. Some will be subtle, some significant, but the demand for trusted, reliable service from people who are experts in their field will remain.

As ever within FM, our people are our single greatest asset. This fundamental understanding never changes – the expertise to deliver, the strength to perform in adversity, the character to embrace change and the empathy to understand the challenges of others have never been more crucial.

Covid-19

At myfm, we are supporting our clients in these challenging times by sharing our knowledge and experience, and through the placement of specialist FM contractors.

Our commitment to you remains steadfast. We will help to keep your business operating as effectively as possible, so you can minimise the risks for you and your clients.

For example, we will help you:

  • Plan for when buildings start to reopen.
  • Plan and implement services, such as thermal imaging, fogging and sanitisation, hygiene monitoring and modifications to cleaning specifications.
  • Implement power efficiency measures.
  • By providing additional skilled capacity.
  • To assess volunteers, returners, and temporary staff.
  • With compliance management and knowledge sharing on new regulations and guidance post Covid-19, once this is available.

As we continue to manage the challenges of Covid-19 and transition into what might become a new normal in the coming weeks, the myfm team are here to assist you with proactive scenario planning. We will do our utmost to react flexibly to your dynamic needs while maintaining the effectiveness and professionalism that you expect from us.

You are welcome to contact us directly, either to talk through your requirements or simply have a chat. We hope you stay safe and healthy.

The myfm team

IR35 – is this really as complicated as it sounds?

At MyFM we seem to have inboxes full of messages offering help and advice and telling us how complicated the latest changes to IR35 will be – but they really aren’t.

Naturally, we’ve been carefully studying the potential impact the IR35 changes will have on our own business and I’m sure many of you are taking steps to get your house in order ahead of the April 6 deadline.

Some people are surprised when we say that the measures that we are planning at MyFM, which at any given time has between 50 to 100 associate contractors working with FM clients, are largely based on the free advice and assessment tool from HMRC:

For our purposes and for our clients who have asked for our help, we haven’t yet found anything so complicated that we couldn’t resolve it using the HMRC resources. Yes, you need to be methodical and systematic in your approach, and if you are dealing with a large number of contractors this is potentially time consuming, but it really isn’t that complicated.

There is plenty of specialist advice available from accountancy firms, lawyers and consultants, all with varying price tags attached, if you want it. But from what we can see, if an individual is a true contractor, that will remain the case. But if a hirer or individual have been using the contractor model when someone should have been classed as an employee, then things are about to change.

The way we have got our heads around this at MyFM is by considering what is staying the same and what is about to change. The rules around IR35 itself are not changing, not noticeably anyway. But what is changing is that private companies, along with the public sector, will now be responsible as hirers for making the assessment on whether an individual is inside or outside IR35, they will be accountable to HMRC on that decision and responsible for arranging for the tax and national insurance to be paid.

To start to get you thinking on this and to help bust a few of the myths, we have collated a quick guide to the high-level changes on this topic.

Who will these changes apply to?

For the first time, medium and large-sized hirers in the private sector (based on annual turnover of more than £10.2million/ balance sheet total of more than £5.1 million and/or more than 50 employees) will need to assess and communicate the employment status of individuals.

Public sector hirers already make these assessments and have been doing so for several years, this will continue – some extra responsibilities are listed in the HMRC guidance.

Small companies (those under the criteria above) are classed as exempt and when they hire, individual contractors will remain responsible for determining their own employment status.

If you are a contractor, or freelancer, providing a service to a large or medium-sized company, you should expect that company to assess whether you should be on or off payroll and notify you of the outcomes of this assessment and any implications.

What will medium and large companies be required to do from April?

For every contract agreed with an agency or worker, companies will need to decide the employment status of an individual, pass this decision to the worker and keep detailed records of reasons – the HMRC tool can help companies to do this.

They will need to have processes in place to deal with any disagreements – details of what is expected are listed in the HMRC guidance.

Individual contractors can also use the tool to make their own assessment.

Who is responsible for tax and national insurance payment?

Now this varies depending on the scenario affecting you or your organisation and is too detailed to include in a blog. So, the best thing to do is to look closely at the HMRC guidance on this, so you can understand how the rules should be applied – https://www.gov.uk/topic/business-tax/ir35

There are a few general principles to bear in mind:

  • If you are the organisation which makes the assessment on status and off-payroll working rules apply, then you will be responsible for deducting tax and national insurance from your workers’ fees and paying it to HMRC.
  • If you are an intermediary, such as an agency, you will be responsible for deducting employer National Insurance contributions from the fees for the services which your worker provides.
  • If you are a contractor and you are providing services to a small company which is exempt, then your situation will continue as is – you will continue to make the payments.

What criteria should be applied to determine status?

The HMRC assessment tool takes you through this in detail and looks at criteria such as the contract in place, substitution arrangement, the working pattern, equipment required, and the length of time services will be provided.

Next steps

If your business doesn’t work with contractors, or you are not a contractor yourself, then you don’t really need to worry about these changes. But if you are either of these things, you should be taking clear steps to prepare, so you are ready to meet your responsibilities under the new arrangements.

If you are a contractor working with private sector clients, then you should assess your own situation, using the tools provided by HMRC. If you provide services to just to small companies, you must make your own assessment. In any event, it is important that you keep lines of communication open between those commissioning work and those providing services, so that all parties fully understand who has responsibility for what.

Our advice is to start your preparation now, if you haven’t already, particularly if you are involved in hiring a large number of contractors. MyFM is able to help clients but we firmly stand by our earlier remarks. Time consuming? Possibly. But are these changes to IR35 complicated? No. In most situations, it shouldn’t be daunting for companies provided they follow the advice on offer.

How do you decide how many people to interview?

Deciding how many individuals to interview for a job opportunity is a problematic and challenging task. For many, one of the easiest and simplest solutions is to interview everyone that appears to be suitable for the opportunity and has the necessary qualifications. Whilst this may seem like a good idea on paper, a large pool of applicants does not necessarily mean that they are all competent individuals suitable for the role in question. Whilst there are obvious benefits to this approach such as the ability to directly compare the skill sets of all candidates to make more informed decisions, it in fact presents several issues that can be very difficult to overcome.

For example, it takes a great amount of time & effort to interview large amounts of candidates; significantly more than a smaller and more focussed group. This has an added disadvantage of additional administration & HR work and can slow down the feedback process after interviews, further hindering the overall timing of decisions. Additionally, a bigger pool of candidates can almost certainly mean that in some instances, it will take longer to make a final decision on who will be hired.

Perhaps you would be right then, to assume that the easiest solution is to simply interview less individuals? In fact, this solution comes with its own unique set of benefits and challenges.

The answer it seems is not a simple one.

Generally, it is good to narrow down the individuals you wish to interview to 3-5. This is a good amount that still allows for direct comparison with meaningful results and means that more time can be spent compiling a meaningful job description and specification to better attract more suitable candidates.
In addition to this, screening tools such as personality and aptitude tests can be utilised to narrow down the selection even further with results more suited to desired need. This also means employers can make a more informed decision on hiring for culture add vs culture fit and how the candidates will benefit the organisation in question.

Overall, there is no real way of knowing how many individuals to interview for a job opportunity. In truth it depends on the job opening itself; some job opportunities may attract more applicants than others and, in some instances may require more than just 1 hire. Each opportunity presents its own unique challenges which is why it is important to identify exactly what you are looking for from the onset and to also consider the benefits and disadvantages of interviewing more than 5 people as opposed to interviewing less.

Facilities Management is Dead

What exactly are we talking about when we discuss facilities management?

For many people who regularly procure and implement FM services for the offices, shopping centres, hospitals and airports who rely on them, it is quite simply what it says on the tin: the fundamentals of keeping a building and a company going.
The industry’s selling pitch to their end-user audience has traditionally never strayed to far from this line. Washrooms, waste, fire safety, computers and compliance all require careful and consistent attention, and a service provider that can operationalise the delivery of FM into a clear and predictable cost. This presents a clear solution to the client, they need FM in order to function, but rarely have they been excited or intellectually engaged by what a service provider can offer.

What the FM industry can often be slow to leverage is how well positioned it is to supply creative solutions that can positively impact the success of the client’s core business. At the London FM Expo this July, it was noticeable how comprehensive the health and wellbeing exhibitors were compared to previous years. A range of products concerning everything from workplace yoga studios to green technology indicate a simple truth; the market is increasingly turning to services that can create a pleasant, and not just a functional, place to work.

This should be an important buying factor for building users for several reasons. But crucially, this evolution of FM is aligned with their own business objectives and KPI’s. Increasingly, companies are prioritising how the quality of their facilities can improve staff retention, talent acquisition, productivity and turnover. Aligning FM more closely with end-user success requires service providers to completely rethink what facilities management is for, and from an operational perspective requires far greater investment in creative industries, disruptive workplace technologies and the wellbeing sector.

End-users are also keen to embrace technology and service integrations as a means of improving operational efficiency and a quality workplace experience. The internet of things, in which technology and smart office appliances are leveraged to consolidate workplace facilities into an easily manageable stream of data.

In almost all respects, this will move the industry on from the realm of “facilities management” to the realm of “workspace management.” Whereas facilities management has traditionally worked like a series of individual musical instruments, Workspace management is like an orchestra, where the main aim of the process is to harmonise all the service streams and deliver a positive experience to the building user in a workplace.

If it’s an old adage that a tidy desk is a tidy mind, then a tidy office support service is a well-functioning company. What service providers need to do now is expand their understanding of what constitutes “tidiness”. If the FM market can learn to make that leap, its clients will go from seeing it merely as a necessary evil and an overhead to keep the building running, to an engaging, intuitive and creative process with real end-value.