– by Sandeep Sethi, Managing Director – Corporate Solutions, West Asia, JLL
Workplace strategy which would traditionally focus on maintaining facilities and cutting costs has come a full circle. Organisations today need to create spaces that attract the best talent, adjust to shifting workforce demographics and promote employee well-being. The answers to these lie in human experience, new technology and innovation.
We have seen a tremendous transformation in the Facilities Management function in recent years. While consistent BAU delivery is still important, facility management today is hardly just a back-end function anymore, having gradually transitioned to a strategic lever for driving productivity, reducing risk, workplace experience, talent attraction and even retention.
With thousands of employees in various workplaces, organisations today face a huge challenge of managing risk. A robust facilities management function can improve compliance and reduce risk – both statutory as well as operational. The perception of the function among end-users, however, may still be stuck as that of the traditional back-end image. But with facility management or workplace strategy now beginning to closely follow larger corporate strategies like employee engagement and technology adoption at the workplace, end-user perceptions of the function too are changing.
According to JLL’s India Future of Work 2019 global survey findings, future-ready or “future fit” enterprises today are leading the future of work adoption at workplaces. India, in fact, is home to the highest proportion of future-ready enterprises, as per the survey report, with future-fit firms leveraging high-performing CRE functions to drive broader business goals and increased profitability.
Future of Work driving organisational behaviour
The future of the workplace is changing. The way we work is evolving to meet the new demands of a glocal marketplace driven by advancing technology, where agile businesses are disrupting the status quo. And this change is largely due to the way millennials approach work.
With more and more forward-looking enterprises increasingly outsourcing their facility and property management functions, according to the JLL Global Survey, there is greater scope for facilities management companies to drive productivity and efficiency at workplaces. Nearly 57% of surveyed participants in India claimed to outsource most of their facility and property management functions, while 28% said they follow a half-and-half ratio of in-house functions and outsourcing. In the next 3 years, nearly 60% of enterprises interviewed, foresee an increase in outsourcing their facility and property management functions.
With the evolution of service levels and the innovation being driven by the FM function, CEOs and C-Suite leaders are displaying high confidence in the ability of CRE to add value across the business, the trend will pave the way ahead for the facility management function tomorrow.
Organisations across the board today have started to realise that real estate has gone beyond bricks and mortar and is a strategic lever that drives organisational and workforce behaviour. In this scenario, the Corporate Real Estate leaders are increasingly finding a seat in the boardroom amongst the peer C-suite. Going forward, I expect the CRE to forge stronger ties with the IT, Finance and HR functions in future. Other emerging trends like flex space and technology provide further confidence in the Facility Management function to forge ahead as a game-changer in the CRE arena.
Innovations in Facility Management Services
In this scenario, C-suite leaders are increasingly looking up to the Corporate Real Estate Leaders (CRE) to deliver much more than operational metrics. This function has become the custodian of workplace experience and innovation. Consequently, metrics such as talent acquisition and retention, which used to be the core HR domain, have started appearing on a CRE’s scorecard.
More often than not, new processes involve shifting to automated facility management processes, or ‘digital FM’. Today’s smart building technology also allows facilities managers to create energy-efficient and sustainable functions. Compliance with regulatory standards of safety and security at work are other areas that facilities management services have to focus on.
Two other factors that have brought facilities management to the forefront of change are:
- Sustainability – Buildings contribute to 40% of the global carbon emission. With employees spending nearly 90% of their time indoors, including 40% at workplaces, wellness in the built environment is becoming increasingly critical. This is one critical aspect in which the facilities management function directly impacts through sustainability initiatives on energy and water conservation. From smart buildings to green workspaces that foster employee wellbeing, the industry has seen a tremendous shift. In 2019, JLL launched India’s biggest PropTech accelerator programme – JLL IDEAs to discover exciting technologies that have use cases in real estate. It was a revelation to see that 100 out of the 740+ technology submissions were working in the area of sustainability. A huge testament to the interest and demand in this segment which has a direct correlation to facilities management function.
- Uplifting the community – Facilities management today employs millions of people from all strata of life across India. The entire ecosystem from the government to occupiers and the service providers believe that there is a significant social benefit linked with the growth of facilities management services in the country.
Creating better workplaces involve creating more effective, pleasant, and personal experiences for people at work. As the world shifts from workplaces to ‘places to work’, I foresee facilities management increasingly creating new workspace solutions that respond to the needs of tomorrow’s world.