Like other industries in developed and developing countries, the Nigerian Facilities Management industry is also feeling the impacts of the Coronavirus outbreak that has killed thousands of people and infected millions. The resultant effects of the virus on businesses have been disruption in operational activities and management of finances using innovative approaches to satisfy the clients’ needs and delivering value to owners.
Since the first case was reported in Nigeria, on February 27, 2020, a number of facilities management professionals and business owners in the industry have been expressing mixed feelings on the consequences of the virus on the industry in the short, medium and long terms. Already, players have been forced to change operational strategies in order to continue delivering services to their clients without hitches. Some have asked workers with the non-essential tasks and responsibilities to work from home to support the government’s directive on lockdown. This is more pronounced in Lagos, Abuja and some states in south-south and south-eastern regions, especially in Port-Harcourt.
“The significant part of Q1 has been impacted by the COVID-19, funny enough, it’s only had little effect on FM. Most essential companies still work online; wastes are still generated and life keeps running. FM is all about people. Therefore, wherever the people go, Facilities Management follows, some company adopts different strategies in managing their facilities and assets. Some locked down the company and its maintenance team to ensure business continuity. Some operate virtually, when issues arise, they mobilize to the location and fix the issues,” Abdullah Abdullah Oladipo, Project Team Lead at Green Facilities, said in a recent interview.
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As businesses and people look forward to total containment of the virus and possible vaccines, our analyst believes that operational cost reduction will continue to be FM companies’ narrative as the main strategy of getting more clients and having sustainable revenue after the virus. Telling a cost reduction story means that FM companies’ success rate is premised on how to get more for less using cost-cutting.
Exhibit 1: Innovation Choices for the Nigerian Facilities Management Industry after COVID-19
With this, players are in two different great ponds. They have to offer services or solutions that reduce clients’ operational cost and also improve their efficiency without compromising standards. This, according to some professionals and one of the players in the industry, the virus has put both the players and professionals in a situation that requires accidental and incremental innovation within processes, people and technological components.
In her post on a professional medium, Olunfunke Soriwa says “the bulk of the job lies in our hands now to get it right and do it right. What does this mean for the industry as a whole?” Joining her, Alice Omisanya, a Facilities Service Manager, notes that “the question that comes up is how do we add value as FM supports many industries?” How can we help shape the new normal for companies on the winning and losing sides post COVID 19.”
Our analyst observes that Looking at this pictorial guide, it is obvious that the Facilities Management Industry is on both sides. Remember, cost reduction and operational efficiency are the key value propositions of FM players. Navigating the water successfully, will now depend on the people, processes and technologies that will ensure the delivery of promised value. Of course, other industries are sneezing, the FM industry must definitely catch cold. But, changing strategies and tactics will determine who belongs to the loser side more than the winner side.
“But mostly, how we navigate this post Covid 19 era is greatly important,” one of the professionals asked. Responding, Olumide Aina, the Chief Executive Officer, Green Facilities, notes that “ The world will not remain the same again after the COVID-19 saga because of the new realities that will come our way. The pictorial representation may be a reality of things already happening and others that will come during the post-covid 19 era, but it’s up to all of us who can stand as the game changers and also serve as influencers. We as the Corporate Real Estate and Facilities Management professionals are at the fulcrum of things that will decide where the seesaw swings through innovation, creativity and teamwork. These are the qualities that are required at this critical time to ensure our relevancy and in turn save the world.”