As I write this, the end of the world is merely hours away, according to ancient Mayan prophecy at least. Assuming that no comet has hit the Earth, aliens haven’t landed and you’ve returned from the underground bunker you were hiding in, welcome to 2013.
The last two years have been enveloped by a strong sense of protest and even revolution. In December 2010, a street vendor in Tunisia set himself on fire in an extreme reaction to his goods being confiscated by a government official. This was to be the trigger for a wave of revolutionary action across North Africa and the Middle East – what we now call the Arab Spring.
Similarly, the Western world has seen its own forms of protest. The Occupy movement, a mostly non-violent group rallying against the banking system and social inequality, has spread across the globe, while strikes and violent riots have plagued cities in Greece, Spain and Italy, as citizens react angrily to austerity measures brought on by the eurozone crisis.
This spirit of protest now seems to have drifted closer to home. Last month curtain walling specialist Dortech announced that it would no longer accept any work from Balfour Beatty because the multi-service giant was regularly delaying payment by up to 200 days, simultaneously striking a blow for subcontractors everywhere.
The company’s owner and chairman Steve Sutherland has made an incredibly brave decision given that Balfour Beatty makes up £5 million of its annual turnover of £12 million. Despite the fact that the two companies have worked together for 13 years, Sutherland was compelled to take a stand after claims that his business was withheld more than £100,000 on recent projects. The story has since gained significant traction on Twitter and in the national press.
Sutherland reminds me of Howard Beale, the fictional news anchor in Sidney Lumet’s 1976 film Network, a satire of the American television industry. In its most famous scene an angry Beale screams live to the nation, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
Is Sutherland’s impassioned outcry a sign of things to come? Is 2013 finally the year facilities managers won’t be kept quiet; the year in which they march into the boardroom and proudly exclaim that they are mad as hell and just won’t take it anymore?
Facilities management certainly appears more confident than it ever has been; it’s also as big as it ever has been, and it had ample reason to shout in 2012. Cathy Hayward perhaps says it best in her look ahead to 2013 on page 24. She identifies a feeling in the FM sector that the New Year doesn’t represent a new beginning, but a chance to build on all the achievements of the last 12 months, including the London Olympics and the introduction of higher-level apprenticeships.
Some, however, remain less convinced. Mark Eltringham pulls no punches in his predictions for 2013. He points to an industry that is facing the same old existential questions and stuck in old habits and out of date methodologies.
This issue of FMJ looks ahead to 2013 and what it holds for the facilities management industry. Ian Gelling, director at Mass, examines the increasing trend of workers bringing their own smartphone and tablet devices to work, and while mobile working is by no stretch of the imagination new to the facilities management profession, the profusion of mobile app technology means that the way workers carry out their jobs is fundamentally changing.
FMJ will continue to keep you as on trend as possible in 2013, and while we may not be revolutionaries ready to ignite uprisings within the FM world, we will continue to write on the subjects most important to you, the reader. As ever, if you have any feedback about anything you see within these pages, please let us know; it helps us produce a better product for you. If not, that’s fine too. It’s not like it’s the end of the world, is it?
This month: Comment
By Simon Iatrou • email@example.com
Extract FMJ January 2012