The FM industry is facing not only huge changes, but huge problems. Communication is broken when it could and should be simple. It’s important to explore and analyse the key problems in order to move forwards to new and improved methods of communicating in the FM industry today.
There are issues with workers at different levels of FM operations, for example as Craig Chapman, a highly experienced FM manager, highlights “Cleaners and engineers provide vital services, but are unaware of contract or finances. Lack of understanding usually results in disengagement and a blinkered view of what one does.” It is therefore important that great communication is emphasised at every stage in order for there to be improved performance within teams. Antiquated methods of documenting work completed can lead to errors, which delay jobs. Subcontractors can complicate this process further still. Even if one company has a great internal communications software the benefit may be lost when in contact with others. How can the industry keep up with an evolving digital landscape? When communication concerns, invoices, and payment, it is essential for this to be smart and simple - technology should simplify this process.
The FM sector needs to become aware of what is essential when it comes to communicating. Giri Prasad Ramamoorthy, Site Operations Lead at Caterpillar reinforces how integral communication is to the FM industry. He states that “Except for the physical work, all other chains are linked by communication. If the customer communicates their requirements correctly, the help desk can communicate with brevity to the technician who can execute the work accordingly.” In summary he concludes that it’s “all about sending and receiving the right message.” As Ramamoorthy highlights, these elongated communication processes can be simplified by small changes, such as location based management and automatic invoicing - therefore streamlining communication.
Face to face communication remains crucial in the FM industry at every stage. Katrina Wixoe works in virtually assisting Facilities Managers and highlights the importance of engaging with staff; “at every level, encourage them to feel confident in sharing their concerns, ideas and goals”. Wixoe continues “Smart organisations realise the value of their FM team” therefore increasing their potential.
On top of establishing great face to face communication, smart communication utilises apps, cloud management and digital social networks to make improvements. Digital social network based communication must not overcomplicate. Intuitive software and digital networks are essential to the development of smart communication in the FM industry. Rod Leach, Co-Founder of Make Life Easy emphasises the way that new tech “is often created to solve all problems and reduce human interaction... a great product actually encourages more human interaction and provides the data that creates an agenda.”
Streamlining internal communication
Education is also an integral part of improving communication in the FM industry as often workers who are carrying out tasks may not be aware of details, deadlines and restrictions. One way to improve this type of communication is to develop listening methods. Optimised listening is intelligent listening - working with colleagues and employees to develop an understanding of their requirements and feedback.
Internal communications software is essential for companies in the midst of digital change, but a focus on adopting a seamless communication system between a company and their external stakeholders and subcontractors should be just as essential. Digital links need to be created between companies to place a focus on smart and simple communication that aids everyone involved. Contact should be efficient and time saving - making jobs in facilities management streamlined. The benefits are also huge in terms of improving general communication and job management. Rod Leach explores the idea that “Open technologies can interact and speak to each other.” He advises to work towards getting the “best individual platform for each purpose then integrating them; in effect, you are building your own platform that fits your business.”
Developing ‘Smart’ Communication
Technology is changing which will alter the industry and applications are a new frontier of development. Applications such as ‘Make Life Easy’ and ‘Okappy’ perform different functions for streamlining communication and job management. ‘Make Life Easy’ works with data to deliver real time updates around quality, audits, H&S and training with commercial cleaning and FM work. ‘Okappy’ is a B2B communications platform that provides a market network for FM companies. These apps can help to link developing technologies and FM communication issues. Gerry So co-founder of Okappy highlights that “apps should focus on their core purpose. One unified platform such as Okappy keeps communication smart and simple”.
Smart communication must be the next step forward in the industry to ensure that it progresses and keeps in step with digital technologies. New communication methods make it easier and faster for companies to complete jobs. Face to face communication in real time needs to be in-sync with digital cloud based management systems to ensure smooth communications throughout the FM industry.