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Staying compliant: How to navigate hybrid working and electrical testing 

With many businesses now settled into a hybrid working structure, employers are being reminded of their legal obligation to ensure electrical equipment is safe even when being used by workers at home.  

Dan Lee, Managing Director of phs Compliance, one of the UK’s leading providers of facilities management and compliance services, says that many businesses are not ensuring compliance of employees’ home offices alongside equipment in the main office. 

He said: “It’s fairly standard now across many sectors for employees to be spending some of the working week in the office and some at home, but your responsibilities for health and safety don’t end when employees leave the site.  

“Under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, employers are responsible for the health, safety and well-being of all employees, whether they work on site or remotely. The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 also state that all electrical equipment in the workplace must be suitable for use and maintained to ensure it is safe, including any equipment used at home to carry out their job.  

“It’s a difficult situation for businesses. They are still liable if employees injure themselves at home, but mitigating the risks remotely is more challenging. Employees may not understand the risks that electrical equipment like laptops, printers and extension leads can pose, and dangerous practices, like overloading sockets or leaving laptops charging on sofas, can be commonplace.  

“All users of electrical equipment should have some basic training in how to use the equipment safely, as well as what danger signs to be aware of. Users should feel confident in visually checking the equipment regularly for obvious signs of damage, as well as potential risks, such as cables trapped under desks or water hazards. 

“However, the best way to protect your employees, and demonstrate your compliance with legislation, is to carry out regular PAT testing on all electrical equipment, whether on site or used remotely.  

“PAT testing (Portable Appliance Testing) involves an examination of portable electrical equipment and appliances to ensure they are safe to use.  This should be carried out by a competent person with the correct training and equipment. It is strongly recommended to employ an experienced and qualified PAT tester to test equipment every year. 

A great opportunity is for colleagues to bring their equipment back into the office for testing when there is a staff meeting, as several pieces of equipment can be tested in one session to save costs.   

“If you are unsure how to meet your health and safety obligations for electrical testing, phs Compliance can help with advice, guidance and over 400 experienced and trained engineers across the UK ready to start testing wherever you are.” 

Click to view phs Compliance’s free PAT Testing Guide. 

With over 50 years’ experience, phs Compliance is one of the UK’s leading providers of facilities management and compliance services. As well as electrical, mechanical and fire safety testing and maintenance services, phs Compliance also provides specialist electrical and mechanical project services, including design, supply and installation for everything from power to lighting. 

Pagabo unveils £1bn 2nd generation Medium Works framework

Pagabo has issued a prior information notice (PIN) for the second generation of popular Medium Works framework, which will be valued at £1 billion.

The current Medium Works framework is one of its most popular and active construction offerings for clients, with 148 projects having been procured through it to date – the issuing of a PIN sets the wheels in motion to the creation and launch of its successor, with prospective suppliers able to bid following the release of tender documentation later this year.

The new generation of the framework will run for four years from January 2023, taking over from the current iteration, which expires in December. It provides a compliant and collaborative framework that can deliver medium-sized construction projects with a minimum value of £250,000, giving clients access to suppliers across three value bands.

Up to nine contractors will be allocated to each region under each lot across core and reserve supplier appointments. There are a number of these places reserved for SMEs to ensure fair access for suppliers of all sizes and to provide ample choice for clients.

  • Lot 1 – £250k to £1m
  • Lot 2 – £1m to £5m
  • Lot 3 – £5m to £10m

The contracting authority for the framework will be the Education Alliance, which will continue that role from the current, live offer.

Jason Stapley, our managing director, said: “This PIN marks the first steps towards making this second generation framework a reality – and the best it can be based on market input. This approach to engagement with those who will apply to be on or will use the framework is an important part of our process, ensuring that every framework we launch is absolutely fit-for-purpose – solving procurement problems rather than creating them.

“It’s really important that clients have access to the best providers on the market – not just the big businesses. That’s why we reserve a number of appointments specifically for SMEs. We know how important having that choice is to clients, as well as the increased levels of social value and positive impact benefit that comes from working with SMEs particularly on a local level.

“Our Medium Works framework is a really popular one with our clients, providing them with the services they need to compliantly deliver mid-sized projects. Some incredible work has been delivered through the framework, such as £1.4m National Centre for Craft and Design for North Kesteven District Council and the £10m Swallowtail Place for Saffron Housing Trust, and we look forward to seeing standout built environment schemes come through the new generation from next year.”

Moving to the cloud shouldn’t be daunting for Local Authorities

Local Authorities are under intense pressure to escalate Digital Transformation strategies while also dramatically reducing IT costs, achieving public sector sustainability goals and extending citizen self-service access to key services. With stretched in-house resources and a widely acknowledged skills shortage, the existing IT team is dedicated to keeping the lights on for as long as possible.

With many councils asking where they can find the time, resources or confidence to advance a cloud-first strategy, Don Valentine, Commercial Director, Absoft outlines five reasons for why embracing ERP in the cloud right now will actually solve many of the crisis facing public sector IT…

Unprecedented Challenge

Local Authority IT teams are facing incompatible goals. Is it possible to cut the IT budget by £millions per year over the next five years while also replacing an incredibly extensive legacy infrastructure with an up to the minute cloud based alternative? Or improve operational processes and ramp up citizen self-service while also ensuring stretched staff across departments have constant, uninterrupted access to the information and systems they need to be effective and productive?

With so many stakeholders to satisfy, the future looks daunting. But there are many reasons why Local Authorities should be confident to embrace a cloud-first strategy and the latest ERP solutions.

Reason 1: A Cloud Migration can be Tactical

With growing numbers of local authorities reducing building space to cut costs, IT teams are under intense pressure to accelerate cloud migration strategies. With tight deadlines to close on premise data centres, a tactical cloud migration offers tangible benefits, not least a chance to address the punitive cost base. At Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, building closure created a 12 week deadline to migrate its SAP estate, including 128 interfaces, to Microsoft Azure.

By taking a tactical approach, rather than a more complex cloud migration that includes an overview of operational processes, Local Authorities can very quickly achieve a cost effective, future proof IT infrastructure that can become the foundation for on-going innovation and change.

Reason 2: Budgetary Goals can be Achieved

Replacing expensive, dated on premise equipment with a secure, UK based cloud service immediately removes the heavy maintenance costs associated with keeping legacy solutions up and running. It eradicates the burden of perpetual license costs – often for solutions that are no longer required. Moving to a subscription based model also delivers a far more manageable, flexible and predictable annual IT budget. The tactical migration to the cloud undertaken by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council led to an immediate saving of £125,000 in ongoing operational support fees and the enablement of the internal team.

Reason 3: Complexity is Reduced

Far too many Local Authorities have over-specified ERP deployments dating back to the pre-austerity era. Times have changed – and so has the core functionality of ERP solutions. There is no longer any need for expensive add-ons – from payroll to procurement, cloud-based ERP technology delivers the vast majority of operational functionality. This allows a significant rationalisation of the software solution set, minimising complexity and avoiding the expensive upgrade costs that can devastate IT budgets. One large local authority was able to achieve a 40% reduction of server hosts through landscape rationalisation, leading to a 50% cut in hosting costs once in the cloud.

Reason 4: Providing a Foundation for Operational Transformation

Rationalising IT systems also frees up talented staff from tedious and stressful maintenance and support activities to focus on innovation. With access to a state-of-the-art ERP solution, individuals can work to streamline processes and improve automation – especially in areas such as citizen self-service.

This, in turn, will release staff across the local authority from time consuming manual activities, ensuring they can use their experience to deliver the more complex services and provide support to vulnerable citizens. Furthermore, with better information councils can embark upon essential business modelling – a key requirement given the impact of inflation and the collapse in business rates – as well as exploring new areas to add revenue streams, such as expanding existing payroll services to schools and academies.

Reason 5: Achieving Sustainability Goals

Local authorities are also tasked with addressing their carbon footprint, along with the rest of the public sector. Moving away from dedicated on-premises data centres to the cloud will be more efficient and support the sustainability goals. Cloud-based data centres offer far more effective energy consumption: one study confirmed that using the Microsoft Azure cloud platform can be up to 93% more energy efficiency and up to 98% more carbon efficient than on-premises solutions. Plus with a commitment to using 100% renewable energy by 2025, to be water positive by 2030, achieve zero-waste certification by 2030 and to be net-zero on deforestation from new construction, the cloud provider’s investment in sustainability will help the council continually improve its position.

In addition, a fully integrated ERP system provides detailed insight to help understand the broader carbon footprint, from procurement to travel, allowing councils to monitor, report and provide transparency around CO2 emissions.

Conclusion

Any significant IT strategic change can appear daunting – especially for stretched IT teams under huge pressure to cut costs while managing out of date and unsuitable legacy systems. The shift to the cloud, however, is not just achievable; it can be made within a tight timeframe and deliver immediate benefits to both budget and resources. Plus, of course, it provides the foundation for on-going digital transformation and provide access to an array of innovative technologies.

EMA launches interactive digital management platform…

The Energy Managers Association (EMA) has announced the launch of the Energy Management Hub, a digital platform for all industry professionals to share and communicate.

Powered by iON TCS, the EMA states the Hub’s purpose is to engage energy management professionals on one dedicated digital platform, with users able to read and comment on the latest energy news, articles and updates; query industry experts through a handful of interactive communities; and share case studies.

Jana Skodlova, training and skills development manager at the Energy Managers Association, told eConnect: “The [Energy Managers Association’s] main aim is to enhance best practice in energy management and build an educated and skilled community of energy management professionals.

“The Hub allows us to connect our membership, actively share best practice and expand their knowledge and expertise in one dedicated place.”

The Hub, which currently has 5,000 users, also acts as a platform to learn and undertake training, offering users a portfolio of courses from basic energy awareness to focused energy management topics. The user’s completion of every course will be concluded with a certificate and continuing professional development award.

Lord Redesdale, the association’s CEO, adds: “We are building and expanding the Energy Management Hub as an energy managers’ place to engage with like-minded professionals.

“It will also be a digital training portal providing courses from basic energy awareness to advanced programmes. We want the Hub to become the place to visit in search for energy management knowledge within the energy management community.”

Learn more about the Energy Management Hub here

Remain ‘cash-flow positive’ with Harvard Technology’s solutions…

Harvard Technology is a pioneer in connected smart lighting solutions, developing a suite of web-based, Internet of Things enabled wireless control and management solutions for interior and exterior lighting. Installed around the world, Harvard’s solutions are delivering substantial monetary and energy savings for many blue chip clients, including Oxford Brookes University, EON and Skanska. Harvard can now deliver solutions backed by a finance package allowing clients to realise these benefits whilst remaining cash-flow positive.

E:  Sales@harvardtechnology.com

W:  www.harvardtechnology.com

 

Logitech Management Services fits around you and your business…

We provide our services throughout the UK and can even accommodate out-of-business working hours to suit all specific requirements. We can help you with:

–       Design and Installation of Air Conditioning Systems
–       Temporary cooling/heating solutions for business critical environments
–       Planned Preventative Maintenance and Servicing Contracts
–       Reactive call out service to diagnose, rectify faults or major breakdown with your systems
–       TM44 Surveys, Audits and Reports
–       System Health Checks, to ensure that your system is energy efficient/compliant
 

–       Integrated M&E Maintenance Solutions
–       Hard and Soft Services
–       Total Facilities Management (TFM)

 

T: 01992 845066

 

E: info@logitechms.com

Forum Insight: The essential client meeting checklist…

A well prepared face-to-face client meeting can create a significant impact on the quality of existing and new business relationships; as well as vastly increasing the value of a company in the long term.

Conducting client meetings is also a viable solution to sustaining business longevity which, is primarily determined by the loyalty and commitment of its customer base. Therefore, by following our essential checklist, a strong focus on hosting productive client meetings could turn out to be the one of best investments you will ever make in your business…

  1. Do your homework

It’s worthwhile to spend some time researching your clients’ business: their strengths, weaknesses, competitors and challenges. Gathering as much information as possible before your meeting will give you the much-needed confidence to hold a strong conversation and proactively suggest appropriate solutions.

  1. Plan your meeting

Particularly at a Forum or Summit, it’s likely you will only have around 20 minutes to make a bold first impression, so don’t waste it! Make sure to rehearse answers to any potential questions you feel the client may ask, and you’ll then be ready to overcome any obstacle.

  1. Focus solely on the client

Your last meeting went really well, and the client has given you a brief. Put that meeting to one side – you already have a date set for the next contact. Don’t neglect the client sitting in front of you; their potential contract could be bigger than the last and it crucial to keep this focus. If the clients purchasing requirement is good enough for them to travel to the Forum, then the sales opportunity is good enough for you to give them your undivided attention.

  1. Watch your body language

Get it wrong and it will be a deal breaker. Be immaculately dressed; firmly shake hands and pay attention to how you sit or stand. Strategically plan your coffee breaks; don’t leave your stand five minutes before your next meeting – they may be five minutes early! Inevitably, first impressions always count, so talk to them like you mean it. Be enthusiastic about the things you are talking about; listen to what they say and ask as many questions as you can.

Cities and Green Building Councils join forces to increase energy efficiency…

Under a new partnership between the World Resources Institute-led Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA) and the World Green Building Council, Green Building Councils located around the world will be working with various cities in order to increase energy efficiency in buildings. 

Green Building Councils based in Poland, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Colombia will work with mayors and city leaders in Dubai, Warsaw, Tshwane and Bogota, under the BEA, to achieve a goal by 2030 to double the rate of energy efficiency; recognising the best course of action to create significant efficiency improvements, as well as receive market buy-in from those who will help generate these energy savings.

Announcing the partnership at the Green Building Council of South Africa’s annual convention in Johannesburg, CEO of the World Green Building Council, Terri Wills, said: “Cities and the buildings which make them up consume around 75 per cent of global energy, putting them at the coal face of our fight against climate change. But whilst they are a major consumer of energy, cities also have huge potential to dramatically reduce energy use, with buildings offering one of the most effective ways to do so. Through collaboration with cities, our Green Building Councils will provide on-the-ground expertise to help realise this opportunity.”

Sodexo ‘proud’ to partner with the Stoddart Review…

The provider of specialist catering, life support and remote site facilities management services, Sodexo, has announced its partnership with the recently launched Stoddart Review in a bid to highlight the importance of facilities management roles.

The Review, which was founded in honour of Chris Stoddart MSc., FCIOB, FBIFM after his sudden passing in 2014, brings together decision makers and industry leaders in the provision of high performing workplaces; existing to put the workplace on the ‘business agenda’.

Marketing and strategy director at Sodexo, Andrew Wilkinson, commented: “I often get the opportunity to speak to organisations about their challenges in engaging employees, improving productivity or driving a culture that is more agile, diverse and collaborative.  I can see a clear trend emerging in the increasing number of clients who recognise the value that outsourced facilities/workplace management services can bring.”

He continued: “The challenge however is making this the norm, it is something we should surely all be focussed on. By bringing together the thoughts of business leaders and world-leading thinkers in the provision of high performing workplaces the Stoddart Review can only help in this as it exists to put workplace on the business agenda.”

 

Find out more about the Stoddart Review here

FM sector peaks in confidence, study suggests…

A market analysis study from Plimsoll Publishing has indicated that confidence in the facilities management sector is continually rising; with 63 per cent of industry companies surveyed reporting an increase in sales in their latest year.

Delving into the status of 377 of the largest facilities management companies in the UK, the majority are delivering growth rates of 11 per cent and many of these are making a healthy profit return. Furthermore, 106 of these companies have been rated as ‘financially strong’, and, on average, each company has seen sales rise by 3.4 per cent.

Read a summary of the report’s findings here