Drifting the private sector recession curve: Two opportunities for facilities service providers in a post-COVID-19 environment | FM Insider Blog

Baskar Sundaram
Baskar Sundaram

This blog is part of our Covid series that explores a range of topics related to these issues and will naturally evolve as events unfold and facts reveal themselves. The blogs are in no way intended to provide scientific or health expertise, but rather focus on the implications and options for facilities services and workplace organisations.

These insights are based on our ongoing interactions with organizations operating in impacted areas and our expertise in facilities service growth delivery. 

At the outset, let me be clear. The COVID-19 pandemic is a human tragedy of unprecedented proportions. It has real human impact in terms of loss of life and livelihood. It is also about tremendous bravery, and countless inspirational stories from people around the world. I am sure all of us are doing our bit to help those impacted as are the brave men and women fighting the battle from the trenches.

However, this post is not about that. Instead, I wanted to write about how facilities services will change once we emerge into the light at the end of the tunnel. As Helen Keller said, “Nothing can be done without hope and optimism”; we must believe that this too shall pass. Frankly, we will have bigger problems than the health of our P&L if it doesn’t.

I believe that, while the world will no doubt face economic challenges, the post-COVID-19 world will also offer three sets of interesting opportunities for facilities service providers.

Opportunity #1: Restart 

Service Providers that have borne the frontal assault of the pandemic will need significant help to restart. They will look for an infusion of cash and engage in deep cost-cutting initiatives. Further, as governments across the world ease liquidity and lower the cost of capital, enterprise buyers and public sector buyers will seek agile solutions from their facilities and workplace services providers. COVID-19 has fundamentally altered risk perception in the global services industry.  Delivery models will need to be re-evaluated for their resilience to risks that were hitherto relegated to the “it can’t happen to us” category.

Key opportunities: Enterprises will need to modernise and secure their networks to enable remote working at scale, modernise and automate their data centers, move to the cloud, and establish multiple levels of disaster recovery sites. There might even be opportunities to manage virtual home working workforce and their home offices analogous to how commercial building infrastructure has been managed.

Opportunity #2: Revitalise

The disruptive phenomenon of COVID-19 will underscore the need to move to alternate, digital-friendly business models for many industries. Sophisticated enterprises will want to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives for a variety of reasons – to recover lost time, to lower the cost of customer service, and to de-risk their traditional business models. Digital disruptors will sense weakness in their competitors and will seek to accelerate their expansion plans. We expect almost every enterprise to be dealing with their own version of de-risking.

We anticipate key opportunities in the shape of IT platform modernization, and digitalisation of front-office functions in industries like financial services, retail, and consumer goods. These were initiatives that most enterprises were already seeking to scale. As they go after them with renewed vigour, service providers must find ways to construct self-funding, agile journeys.


What should service providers do?

  • Lead with empathy: This is a moment of truth. Understand that customers are as stressed as you are and need all the help and support that they can get. They also understand that the world is grossly imperfect right now and will forgive the odd niggle. But they won’t forgive bureaucracy, tedious change control procedures, and a lack of flexibility. When the sun shines again, they will also distinguish between those who went beyond the call of duty and those who didn’t answer their call fast enough
  • Own the change: Every enterprise customer is going to need their own version of the two Rs. Walk in with a clear, customer-specific, tailored plan. There will be a lot of confusion, and the most pragmatic and comprehensive plan will win. This is not a time for handwaving
  • Drift the curve: When race car drivers approach a bend on the track, unlike ordinary mortals who slow down, they accelerate. This is known as “drifting the curve.”.


Service providers need level-headed leadership – it would be an immature board that judges the executive team on a post-COVID-19 downturn. Keep in mind: it’s not about the fall, it’s how you bounce back.


How can we engage?

We like to start with a conversation to learn where you are on your journey and what level of support might work best for you and your organization. Drop me a line – baskar@baachu.com

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