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The certainty of uncertainty

Blog from Rory Murphy, Commercial Director, VINCI Facilities

As summer ends and the big return to work gathers a pace the only certainty in the FM sector and the built environment is the continued uncertainty that pervades our whole economy.

Traditionally this is the point within the yearly business cycle where plans are being checked and adjusted for year end numbers and thoughts turn to budgets, targets and goals for the coming years ahead.

It is impossible to ignore the 31st October. The ramifications of how we exit or don’t exit the EU on that date will impact on the final quarter of this year and there is a strong possibility that we could be in the grip of a general election, all of which brings uncertainty to the economy at large. It is within this environment that we need to keep delivering services, attract and develop talent within our profession, develop innovative solutions and keep an eye on the rapidly changing digital world and all that has to offer us.

Political uncertainty is not good for our communities or for our teams and it is important that businesses act responsibly and sustainably to navigate the challenges that the final quarter of this year will present.

Facilities management is a huge employer within UK PLC and is very diverse, not only in the roles that are available but also the people we employ. The Brexit issue has had a polarising effect on political debate within our country with the extremist views of both the right and left often drowning out the more moderate voices on either side of the argument. The increasing use of social media as an influencer for change and the explosion of information gleaned from our social media preferences has seen our phones, tablets and laptops become the weapon of choice for those that wish to push their own ideology to the masses.

As FM professionals and business leaders all we can do (and we are expert at this by our nature) is plan and organise ourselves for every eventuality. The 31st October may well come and go without a whimper, the 2019 version of Y2K, when we prepared ourselves for critical failures moving into a new millennium only to see the new century ushered in without the hint of a wobble. Or it might be delayed again.

There is a scenario, however, where things don’t quite go so well, and we need to understand and prepare where possible for the ramifications for all our stakeholder groups. Facilities professionals will already be speaking to their suppliers, customers and teams about maintaining services and identifying critical areas where a heightened level of planning will be required just in case.

Crucially though, we need to understand that in our workplaces and across our offices and delivery areas that we are primarily a people business. The likelihood is that our teams will reflect the divided nature of the debate that already exists within the country at large. The Brexit debate and the politics that will surround it over the coming months must not be allowed to become divisive or unsettling for our teams, we have a responsibility as professionals to ensure discussions and debates in the workplace are balanced, responsible but most of all well informed and good natured.

We are blessed to live in a strong democracy. It is true that discussions about our future in Europe will generate lively debate and strong feelings on all sides. We should all remember, however, that the freedoms and cultural diversities that exists within our country is what makes us strong and that is reflected nowhere more clearly than in our fabulous FM profession.

Halloween will come and go, our FM teams will be out delivering excellent services, supporting our communities and keeping UK PLC ticking over whatever the next few months brings to bear.

About Sarah OBeirne

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