FM Partners Helping Universities achieve a Thriving, Social and Sustainable Campus
Today, as universities manage the challenges of the evolving physical campus and the need to retain the ‘human connections’ of our future leaders, it has never been more important to embrace the expertise of forward-thinking Facility Management partners, who can help universities achieve their goals for a thriving and sustainable campus.
Kon Corolis – Director Capital Projects and Facilities Management at University of Adelaide:
“Human connection – a sense of purpose, belonging, learning and social interactions – forms the foundations of interpersonal relationships and is a pillar that supports a thriving universal society.
In the COVID world of today, we have seen much of this face-to-face human connection decline. What role do universities play, indeed all education facilities, to ensure human connection remains a focus for their students?
The evolution of the physical campus continues today from advancements in technologies that support online/remote and face-to-face learning or through the continual transformation of teaching, research and social spaces etc – all which contribute to attracting and securing cohorts of undergraduates globally, while hopefully supporting important ‘human connections’ of our future leaders.
Enter Facilities Management.
Once contained to operational functions, it is now synonymous with strategic planning to support the university’s goals. Delivered through developing, contributing or implementing key initiatives to ensure a sustainable campus, or through an ability to work with the university and space planners to create campuses that celebrate and promote social interactions.
Facilities Management has come a long way from just being known as ‘the invisible hands that ensure the lights turn on and the air-condition works’ – it’s much more. As the nation moves towards living with the pandemic, our collective focus is to ensure campuses remain open to support “human connection” and are also serviced and maintained through quality cleaning practices and air conditioning management, to name a couple, in order to minimise the transmission of the virus amongst the university community.
Partnering with cross-sector, industry-leading Facility Service providers is a conscious philosophy of universities in this new era. With the new generation contracts implemented in 2020 by the University of Adelaide, it transitioned to ‘an activity-based work model’ yielding a balance between positive end user experiences and financial sustainability.
Relationships with industry-leading service providers bring a wealth of cross-industry knowledge enabling the University to consider and make informed decisions when responding to unprecedented events like the pandemic. Organisations should be proactively entering into these relationships and be prepared to undergo cultural change, invest in technology, trust and the commitment to support the introduction of its providers’ R&D ideas for trial on its campus if it is to share in the rewards.
Technologies have certainly changed the management of facilities. They provide unparalleled visibility to the estates we manage, and our vocabulary has moved away from agreed, additional and reactive maintenance; to preventative and planned maintenance, maximum utilisation, multi-modal spaces and life cycle costings. Industry-leading facility service providers are not threatened by this change. They have generally embraced it and contributed to its progression, knowing that the delivery of sustainable services is a partnership.
So, as we enter 2022, organisations need to take a moment to consider their own Facilities Management Team capabilities / adaptiveness and truly embrace contract partnering; your service expertise, knowledge and technologies that can be a true asset in this difficult period and into the future”.