London Region Question Time event: ‘Brexit will deliver benefits for the profession'


  • General news

30 January 2020

Question time

On Wednesday 22 January 2020, IWFM’s London Region hosted their annual Question Time event at Lazards in Mayfair. Below is a report from the event by IWFM London Region Deputy Chair, Cathy Hayward.

‘There are numerous positives from Brexit’ was the message from the annual IWFM London Question Time event last week.

‘It’s given the industry clarity, certainty and momentum,’ said Alistair Craig, managing director of corporate office FM specialist Anabas. ‘People are moving from a defensive position to a forward-looking one as a result of a firm Brexit decision, although there are concerns for EU nationals in the UK, which good FM employers will be supporting their people through.’

Peter Smith, CEO of Principle Cleaning, agreed. ‘The decision has taken away the uncertainty and we’ve seen an uplift in both the stock market and housing market. It will now be easier to bring skilled engineers from places like India and China.’

‘We’ve seen Capex spend eased,’ said Angela Love, director of Active Workplace Solutions. ‘Projects are finally being signed off after months of being on hold.’

Brexit was just one of a range of topics discussed by the four-person panel, which also included Claire Curran, managing director of Linaker. The level of security threat in London, the usefulness of data, the cyclical nature of insourcing/outsourcing, and the choice of specialist providers and big FM players were all discussed.

Some of the most interesting debates came from the subject of social mobility. The panel chair, FM consultant Sarah Hodge, said that, as an entry-level industry, facilities management had an essential role to play in increasing social mobility, which would in turn boost GDP.

Anabas’ Craig talked about how the firm partnered with the Circle Collective, a social enterprise, to offer frontline placements to young people not in education or training, which provided them with something to talk about on their CV. Anabas offers permanent jobs to those who show aptitude and also regularly holds sessions where they talk about the benefits of facilities management as a career.

Curran from Linaker said it’s down to all of us as individuals to promote FM as a career* for all and talk about its benefits. This was echoed by Active’s Love, who challenged everyone present to mentor a young person and sell them the FM dream. ‘You’ll get out of it as much as they will,’ she promised.

While the threat of the ‘uberisation’ of facilities management was dismissed by some on the panel, it was seen as a cause for concern by others, and not just as a source of competition to the traditional providers. ‘Corporates need to look at the profitability of these gig-economy businesses and examine how they treat their workers before they start working with them,’ warned Craig.

The session ended with the four panellists revealing what kept them awake at night. For Principle Cleaning’s Smith it was the excitement of what his team might bring to him tomorrow. For Active’s Love, it was the pressure of running a small business and making sure it remained competitive in a challenging market. Craig at Anabas said he was concerned about people’s wellbeing in the current office environment and making sure workplaces supported people’s mental and physical health. Lastly, Linaker’s Curran was focused on all the things she could do to drive her business forward.

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*IWFM’s Career of Choice programme provides resources and support for workplace and facilities management professionals interested in inspiring the next generation to join the profession. Please follow the link to find out more.