The pandemic has led to greater respect for people who, until a few months ago, had gone largely unnoticed. We are referring among others to those who make up the cleaning teams employed by most companies. “…now they even greet us and thank us…” they remarked in an assessment meeting with a client. How sad and at the same time what a pleasure to hear this; something is changing.
You might not have seen them in the offices if you haven’t been there since you started working remotely. Where they do go every day, is to shopping centres, restaurants, universities, hotels, and especially hospitals, where the standards of hygiene maintained are much higher than a few months ago. For this reason, cleaning has taken on a scale of importance hitherto unseen and this has led to us valuing more highly the work of professionals who have always been there but who have not been observed until now.
Providers have always delivered services within the framework of traditional contracts. In some cases, this is progressing towards more complex Facility Management models (incidentally, a FM model has nothing to do with whether greater or fewer services are provided under a single contract). In order to achieve this progress, these same providers have to adapt to rules and conditions, which, if effectively implemented, will be beneficial for both parties. Greater risk transfer or variable remuneration is compensated with longer contracts and a kinder win-win approach.
Working with service levels gives the customer-provider relationship added value. Yet this is not always the case, and when it fails, it is in fact due to an inappropriately termed “FM contract”, not the providers. They are expected to yield results on aspects that are out of their reach, such as poorly measured or abandoned equipment; they are unfairly penalised, confusing variable compensation with insurance compensation, and they are evaluated on the basis of the results of work atmosphere surveys which do not explain to dissatisfied employees that they are working with a budget which has been cut by half.
Service providers are those invisible partners, without whom the operation of many companies would instantly come to a halt. But FM service providers are those who also make it possible to define and implement more complex models, which enhance our profession and differentiate us from more traditional management. This valuable and decisive evolution is what will enable Facility Management to occupy a relevant place in organisations. Since the future of our progress depends on them, for this very reason we help them with the transition by training and advising their teams.
We will never have good FM models without good FM providers.
This post is dedicated to all service companies that are evolving towards more professional provisioning, to those who provide one, two or all services and to those who cover the management tier, the provisioning tier or both, as they can all be FM providers. It is also addresses those who are striving to change, adapt to more modern models and make greater commitments. Their efforts make a significant contribution to the development of Facility Management in their countries.