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Managing risks and Future proofing in the New Age Workplace

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Rajesh Pandit, Managing Director
Global Workplace Solutions & Property Management, CBRE


In the era of CRE outsourcing, rapid technological advancement and evolving workplace strategies, Facilities Management (FM) capabilities have increased tremendously, largely impacting all facets of a business. With multiple locations, contractors and vendors, there are various formal and informal outsourcing elements of FM services within a company.

Consequently, there is an inherent risk potential at virtually every step – which needs to be addressed and managed. Risk management and mitigation in FM is a systematic approach, wherein facility services outsourcing can be implemented in the best possible way to manage and minimize operational risks. This largely includes defining roles and responsibilities within the business processes and optimizing the outsourcing of facility services by taking specific aspects of facility management and possible risks into consideration.

What are these risks?
The process of risk management aims at identifying and prioritizing risks before their occurrence and provide action-oriented information to facility managers. This process requires deliberation of events that may or may not occur and are therefore described in terms of likelihood or probability of occurrence, along with the extent of their impact. An efficient FM team can look across the business, identify a risk and put in place measures to help the company manage it and prevent potential costs that could arise from it.
Effective response to on-site emergencies, whether man-made or not, has become an integral part of FM services. In such a situation, emergency preparedness is of prime importance so as to respond to dangerous situations and unforeseen events, should they arise. With specific procedures in place and systematic recording of actions, external risks can be mitigated if unexpected incidents result in legal action

How can these risks be managed?
Efficient management of assets:  

The operational phase of an asset is the most crucial period as the asset is used to deliver services and support core businesses. Therefore, proactive asset management with a thorough maintenance plan is essential at this point. Understanding the right type of maintenance (preventive/reactive/corrective) and evaluating the importance of each maintenance request (planned or reactive) will help extend the life of an asset. It is necessary to rate these by priority for the facilities manager to assess the asset’s characteristics and make an informed decision about the frequency of maintenance or physical audits. The key aspect here is to understand the impact of a failure of a critical equipment and have a go to plan for such failures with details on responsibilities and key task.

Understanding and managing people:  
One of the most important assets for a company is its people as employee management directly impacts a company’s productivity and profitability. Owing to the nature of the FM industry, team management (while keeping in mind the dynamic teams that are needed by each project) can be a little more challenging than managing a static team. The management has to take numerous parameters into consideration – the geographical spread of various sites, shift patterns, emergency response including each team member’s technical skill set. Today, many innovative software programmes are available for scheduling of staff and for managing work quality and deadlines. However, facility managers should ensure that they create a safe, healthy and positive environment for not only on-site but also off-site employees. The importance of employee health and wellness is rising in the workplace: 89% of the organizations responding to the CBRE Health and Wellness Survey, 2016, reported giving some level of attention to this growing trend. While the best interest of employees is the focus, employers do stand to benefit as well – initiatives in this area represent opportunities to responsibly manage/reduce healthcare costs and increase productivity and performance.

Ensuring the security of data:  
In the ‘Big Data’ environment, the decision-making process is largely driven by data, and the world of FM is no exception. As capturing data and transforming it into actionable information has become exceedingly important, data security has also become a prime concern. Data breaches primarily occur through hosted system for vendors on the company’s network, thereby providing easy access to hackers. Segregation of company data from vendor access and utilization of cloud-based systems providing restricted and indirect access to vendors can minimize such data-related risks.  

Creating a healthy vendor and contractor relationship:
FM teams hire a range of commercial contractors to address various facility aspects related to repairs, maintenance and on-site management. While dealing with contractors and external agencies, facilities managers can face various challenges such as unqualified or poorly performing contractors, noncompliance with corporate standards and operational or performance-related risks. To minimize these risks, companies can adopt the practice of rating or scoring contractors and their services. By gaining more information on the contractor performance with the use of data, more work can be assigned to the contractors delivering quality services and the underachieving ones can be reviewed.

Being compliant:
Compliance has one of the most complex frameworks in FM; hence, this complexity is also encompassed in the risks associated in FM. Although compliance entails adhering to all the laws and regulations, it intersects almost every FM aspect such as operations, finance, ethics, contracts, etc.

In order to design an effective compliance strategy, it is essential to understand the requirements, challenges and inherent risks associated with each category. After developing a thorough understanding of compliance requirements across each category, an effective compliance programme detailing regulatory, professional and data standards with a methodical approach to compliance can be designed by facility managers.

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