Blogs & Thoughts

IWFM Scotland Conference Roundup

Last week’s IWFM Scotland Conference in Edinburgh brought together industry leaders and experts to discuss pressing issues and emerging trends in Facilities Management. Here’s some key takeaways from the event:

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  • Date 23rd February 2023
  • Author Reiss May

Megatrends shaping FM 

The conference kicked off with Jonathan Nobbs, IWFM Director, highlighting the megatrends that are shaping the industry. There’s a lot of uncertainty across the globe creating economic, social, and political tension with the biggest outside influences to FM being the cost of living crisis, inflation and climate change. As a result, consumers and clients are making choices based on a company’s environmental records and reputation so corporate sustainability is a must. Emerging trends in technology like quantum computing, smart spaces, and AI are impacting the FM landscape. As a consultant, my role is driven by data, and what was not surprising was over half of FMs feel they don’t have the data they need to do their job properly. He also touched on the changing demographics in the workforce (there are five generations in the workplace now!), so attitudes to how and where we work will vary greatly. How do we navigate these megatrends? Jonathan provided four ways we could start:  

  • Build a skillset around dealing with uncertainty 
  • Build a workforce vision and strategy 
  • Understand sustainable development goals and reporting protocols 
  • Hone your business skills 

Green financing  

Stop the talk, walk the walk. Richard Smith from Brodies LLP delved into the shift in green financing, noting that companies are now required to demonstrate not only emissions tracking but also active efforts to reduce their environmental footprint. He highlighted the significant contribution of real estate to global CO2 emissions (40%) and reminded us of what we can achieve if we work together. It’s a community effort; landlords and tenants must share data with other occupiers if there is to be any collective push for emissions reductions. Profit vs planet vs people means everyone loses—we are one team, not the opposition. 

The role of FM 

Does the answer to FM’s future lie in the past? Chris Moriarty of Workplace Geeks/Audiem thinks so, advocating for a return to the core principles of Facilities Management. We should be promoting FM by saying why we do what we do as opposed to saying what we do. And we need to remember that the intrinsic value of FM is in supporting businesses and enhancing user experience. He had a couple of key takeaways to help remind FMs of their why: 

  • FM doesn’t exist to support core business, it is a vital part of the core business 
  • FM isn’t a part of the supply chain, FM are the defenders the users 

Using spaces, people, and tech (with business in the middle), we can measure and quantify people to give us real stats to improve our comfort and efficiency in the workplace. After all, it’s more often than not people who make for an enjoyable workplace experience.

Focus on industry – catering  

Mike Hanson from BaxterStorey Scotland focused on the £4.4b catering industry, and how post-Covid, people aren’t afraid to ask “What am I doing? What’s important to me?” Dictating policy doesn’t always work—meat-free Mondays are less effective than promoting regenerative beef products with a positive biodiversity impact. He highlighted the inefficiencies of waste disposal and stressed the need for sustainable practices in food service, stating that ESG will only work if everyone collaborates. His parting reminder? You pay twice for your waste, once to bring in the product and once to dispose of it

Climate Change – what can we do? 

There has never been a safer, happier, and more exciting time to be alive than now according to Sir Tim Smit of the Eden Project. His thought-provoking talk on climate change addressed the widespread denial and urgent need for action if we want to keep it that way. We hear a lot of talk about the cost of doing things to save the environment but not nearly enough about the cost of not doing things. With a focus on the role of individuals and businesses in mitigating climate change, Sir Tim reminded us that the world’s future is still in our hands.   


A changing workplace 

We’re always saying the workplace is evolving, so it was no surprise to hear Siobhan Riordan and Ian Traxler, Heads of Sustainability and Workplace at ISS, speak about the shifting needs of a workplace. You need data to get insight into the connection between people and places, with the reminder that neurodiversity is key to understanding your workforce.  

Sustainability plays a large role in the future of the workplace as well, and green targets are coming quicker than we think. 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions come from buildings; we need to understand what climate mitigations we have in place now and what we will need for the future. It’s all about having a plan and then following through. After all, a plan for Net Zero isn’t just a target, it’s a necessity. 


About the author

Reiss May, FM Support Consultant

Reiss joined the SPACE FM Consultancy team in August 2023. Graduating 7 years ago, he has worked across a range of facilities management roles, specialising in research, insights and analytics.