As we approach midsummer’s day, it’s time to review the first half of 2021

As we approach the middle of 2021, I thought I’d take a step back and cast my eye over the year so far.


Photo by Aron Van de Pol on Unsplash

What a few months it has been, with ups and downs, promises of getting back to normal, subsequent delays and still a general feeling of uncertainty.


Casting my mind back to March 2020, I’m not sure how many of us thought we’d still be looking forward to the light at the end of the tunnel in June 2021. It has been especially difficult for anyone trying to make future plans, and this has taken its toll on business and individuals. How many things have we all scheduled, changed, rescheduled, cancelled? Meanwhile the pressure builds, the uncertainty continues and the health of individuals and business are affected.


In the world of Facilities management, we’ve seen a broad spectrum of responses to the pandemic, some of which are now changing. A number of large organisations announced early on that they will never return to the office, some of whom previously prided themselves on large prominent physical locations. The initial reaction to working from home was seen to be positive for employees – no commuting; better work/life balance; lower costs; use of digital technology etc. Longer term, some holes have appeared in this theory – commuting (within reason) can provide a wind down and build up to the working day; employer expectations on the working day can grow i.e. what else are you going to spend your time on and you don’t have that commute anymore; permanent wfh solutions cost money and space in the home; families simultaneously working and home-schooling found it hard; digital tech does not compensate for real-life interaction with people; less people in commuter destinations such as town centres means a decline for other businesses in those areas.


The results from all the industry surveys I have seen point to a much more balanced approach, being a hybrid model with flexible office attendance. Most relevant organisations indicate that they will adopt a 40-60% attendance model, which is a welcome mix but does come with its own challenges. What days do staff attend? Do you prescribe the days or let staff decide? Do you set up ‘team days’ where whole teams come in on the same day, which is structured towards achieving goals? What do you do with empty space on ‘dead’ days e.g. Fridays? How can FM professionals help to manage this process, whilst maintaining cleaning and social distancing guidelines? Hint …. Mass can help with solutions for this!


At the beginning of 2021 I set myself some goals, which I shared in my January blog. At the risk of exposing my shortcomings, here’s how I’ve done so far!


1. Stop saying Happy New Year. Now. The last one was at the beginning of this article, I promise.

Well that was easy, I really did achieve this one quickly!


2.  Keep running. I don’t like running, but it’s the best way I’ve found to keep my weight, fitness and mental health steady. My first aim is to get my 5km time consistently around 32 minutes (for those of you who know running, you won’t be impressed. For those of you who know me and my ‘progress’ last year, you might be). This translates to running 5km at least once a week, ideally twice. Having hit that 32-minute last weekend already, I’m thinking of lowering it to 30 minutes, but I’ll see if that was a fluke first. If I achieve that, maybe I’ll extend it to doing a 10km event.

Not so easy this one …. Running twice a week got me to around target in April and I did once break 30 minutes. Unfortunately three weeks off followed by a return run last week in the midday heat set me back to around 33 minutes. Roll on the return of Parkrun (now in July) which will give me a guaranteed run every week.

3. Achieve a certification in Project Management. I’ve been involved in formal projects for years, but I’d like to be able to evidence my experience as a proven skill. This one is fairly binary – find a course, complete it, pass a test. Implementing the learning is going to be the interesting part.
I’ve completed and passed some online training modules, and identified a couple of courses/certifications, but I’ve not signed up yet.

4. Grow my expertise in Client Success Management. I’ve been dealing with clients most of my career, so why do I feel the need to do this now? I want to formalise the way I work, learn from what I’m doing, and make changes to improve my positive impact on our clients. This will involve active listening – clients can tell us where we can help; networking with other CSMs can enable sharing of thoughts and ideas; following thought leaders and online communities.

I’ve attended some CSM forums online, and several FM industry forums, which is really helping. I have spoken to most of our clients, and have regular calls with several of them, I even met a client face-to-face last week which is hopefully a good sign for the coming weeks as things open up and people return to the workplace.


5.  Lift some of the burdens of managing projects and organising activities from other team members, so they can focus on technically delivering impact for our clients.

I am involved now in most of our projects and helping, I hope!

6. Drive a program of system upgrades across our clients, to move to the latest version and to get the most from their investment.

Several short-term upgrades have taken place this year, a couple of long-term complex ones are in-flight, and we’re planning for 2-3 more complex ones this year/early 2022.

These clients are seeing benefits now, or soon will be. I urge all our clients to plan upgrades with me – do contact me if this applies to you.

7. Keep reviewing our business performance, our client needs, and keep adapting to fit.
I review with as many clients as possible on a monthly basis, some more often and some less often depending on the rate of change and projects. We review our tasks as a team daily, our collective support and resourcing efforts weekly, and with our board at least monthly. This works well but there’s always time for more client discussions – contact me if you want to spend some time! 


When I first published this list, I said the key to success would be through review, and what better place to do that than in the public eye! I’ll have to make sure I close the rest of these out by year end.


For more information, call MASS on 0118 977 8560 or email us at

Written by Alastair Jeffery


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