23rd January 2020

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Alistair Craig, Anabas’s MD, took part in a panel debate yesterday (22 January) on the pertinent issues facing the FM sector. The event hosted by Lazards and organised by the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM), saw more than 60 delegates quiz the panel of experts which also included Peter Smith, CEO of Principle Cleaning; Angela Love, director of Active Workplace Solutions and Claire Curran, managing director of Linaker.

The first question of the night focused on the positives of the Brexit decision. “It’s given the industry clarity, certainty and momentum,” said Alistair. “People are moving from a defensive position to a forward-looking one as a result of a firm Brexit decision.” But he recognised that there are concerns for EU nationals in the UK which good FM employers will be supporting their people through.

Other panellists talked about the uplift in both the stock market and housing market, the easing of Capex spend and that it will be easier to bring skilled engineers from places like India and China.

Brexit was just one of a range of topics discussed. The level of security threat in London, the usefulness of FM 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 debate came was on the subject of social mobility. The panel chair, FM consultant Sarah Hodge, said that as an entry-level industry, the FM sector had an essential role to play in increasing social mobility which would in turn boost GDP.

Alistair talked about how Anabas partnered with the Circle Collective, a social enterprise who  offer front-line placements to young people not in education or training, which provided them with something to talk about on their CV. Through Circle Collective, Anabas have employed eight candidates in the last two years – three of whom are now permanent staff working at some of their  largest client sites. Anabas also deliver a number of free insight days to educate and inspire the youngsters about the possibilities available within the FM industry.

While the threat of the uberisation of FM 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 Alistair.

The session ended with the four panellists revealing what kept them awake at night. For Principle’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. Alistair said he was concerned about people’s wellbeing in the current office environment and making sure workplaces supported people’s mental and physical health. And finally Linaker’s Curran was focused on all the things she could do to drive her business forward…



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