Q. What new challenges are being faced in facilities management (FM), and specifically within higher education?
Facilities managers across the board are being faced with ever more demanding and tech-savvy consumers, whether in workplaces or universities. In higher education in particular, facilities managers must cater to a wide demographic of stakeholders, from older faculty members down to digital-native undergraduates who expect to do everything through their phones.
Q. Are there general rules for good, effective FM – and pitfalls to avoid?
Nowadays, with a tech-minded student body, it’s important that universities keep pace with wider industry trends. In part, that means offering digital services, equivalent to those expected from institutions and businesses outside academia. In terms of pitfalls, it is critical that academic institutions choose the innovations that will benefit them, rather than investing in the latest flash-in-the-pan technology. They should choose those new services that will strategically help to bring in new revenue, while also improving the student experience.
Q. Is technology making FM easier and/or better?
Technology has long had a place in schools and universities, enhancing student experiences and bringing new opportunities. However, it’s not just classrooms and lecture halls where change is happening. More and more universities are introducing digital platforms to their food catering in order to streamline processes for both students and venue operators.Hull and Strathclyde Universities have both recently introduced pre-ordering apps on campus. These platforms allow students to order and pay on the spot from their mobile phones, whether they’re looking for food while relaxing in the union or grabbing a drink while rushing between lectures.
It’s not as catchy as: ‘When is a door not a door?’ (answer, when it’s a jar) but it speaks to the idea that in-car collection, and the technologies that support it, are flexible enough to bend to the needs of a business and its guests.
Delivery can be daunting to the uninitiated, and it might be tempting to sign up with a third-party ordering aggregator that offers the service, such as UberEats, but other options could suit your business and brand better. Here we present three different ‘levels’ of delivery, starting with the most basic – and cheapest method: doing it yourself.