Thought Leadership ft. Kumud Bharti of JLL

At Peppermint, we are starting a new series on Thought Leadership where we speak with industry experts and ask them their thoughts on the latest trends.

In the first edition, we spoke to Kumud Bharti from Jones Lang LaSalle.

Kumud Bharti, JLL
Kumud Bharti, JLL

Kumud is Innovation & PMO lead working with one of the largest global IT giants, a customer of Jones Lang LaSalle. As part of the Center of Excellence, her current role involves solution sourcing for Futuristic IFM solutions/ideas in the areas of Workplace & Human Experience. She works closely with the global innovation community and the local startup ecosystem for crowdsourcing ideas, defining problem statements, research, and product testing to scale-up solutions. Kumud is an IIM C alumnus, been part of the service industry for more than a decade and comes with cross-regional & cross-cultural work expertise.

We asked Kumud some questions on Facility Management, JLL & what’s next in Automation & Robotics.

Here are the excerpts

1. What are the top 3 things you see changing in Facility Management once the lockdown is lifted?

  1. Space design and layouts– With social distancing and WFH becoming the new normal, the current spaces, namely – agile, hot desking, and open plan will see a shift, be it in terms of desk density/sq. ft per workstation or consumption of huddle/collaborative spaces. The space layout will be re-imagined based on future business needs and the prevention of infection control.
  2. Technology and Automation- We will see increased adoption of automation and technology tools at sites, especially in the areas of delivering output when-labour-is-unavailable, thereby leading to enhanced business resilience and risk reduction. Everything from cleaning equipment to Smart HVAC systems, air purifiers to space disinfectants, and visitor management to security surveillance, the market pull could go up for technology and automation offerings.
  3. Human Experience & Employee Experience- In the interest of attracting and retaining talent, the  virtual experience” will gain more importance. With WFH emerging as the new norm, how do employers show care, connect, collaborate and take care of the wellbeing for employees while trying to make WFH experience as enriching and satisfying as operating out of physical workspaces? This conversation will grow louder in the coming months.

2. What additional measures you reckon are going to be the new normal in the wake of COVID-19 for organizations which earlier wasn’t the case?

While it’s difficult to envisage the future play up at this point as there is a dependency on how long the current state lasts and supply chains are kicked back in action, some additional measures could be seen and accepted as new normal are..

  1. Increased cyber-surveillance for right information dissemination, accessing employees’ travel history (with prior consent), or tracking real-time asset location will require more robust policies from information security and IT perspective.
  2. Contactless deliveries and tech adoption: Be it the way mailrooms, or traditional cafeterias operated, there is an increased need for the minimum “human touch and live interaction.” While both these values are big drivers of HX/UX and are here to stay, for the next few months reduced, or zero person-to-person contact is recommended as per WHO and local government guidelines. Hence, we could potentially see a boost to solutions in the areas of tech, automation, and robotics.
  3. Increased focus on safety with PPE and other safety equipment- There will be an influx of safety, wellness, and PPE for future preparedness and reinforcing BCP strategies for a pandemic or similar situations.
  4. New ways of waste management and cleaning- With the rise of everyday mask-wearing and the increased use of safety equipment, there will arise, a need for new methods and initiatives towards waste management. The current situation will also raise the bar for existing cleaning standards and output evidence thereof.

3. JLL is at the forefront of Facility Management Services. What steps are you taking at JLL managed properties during the lockdown?

At JLL, the health and well-being of all our employees, clients, supplier partners, and communities remain our top priority. We are adapting our services to meet the needs of our clients in this changing and challenging environment while complying with the guidance of local and global health authorities and governments.

 We stand ready to help clients by –

  1. Supporting their efforts to keep their employees safe by helping them implement infectious disease outbreak plans and developing and executing their real estate business continuity plans.
  2. Providing expert insights and analysis to help clients understand the evolving impacts on the global economy, real estate market, and relevant industries.
  3. Adapting and developing services to help clients respond to the immediate crisis, to prepare to re-enter the workplace, and to reimagine future performance.

4. Which industries in India do you see making the journey back to normalcy fast post the lockdown?

The shift in the behaviours will be seen in the form of- a shift from shareholder management to stakeholder management and the whole value chain. A very important shift would be inwards- local for local. Ripe and conducive environment for local start-ups and businesses.

Research/consulting reports and stock performance trends guide towards some industry segments standing at a firmer position for making their journey back quicker.

  1. Pharma is currently and will continue to see the rise with increased investment and medical equipment manufacturing. While Edelweiss securities says “the pandemic caused severe supply-side disruptions in various sectors, earnings will be cut by 10-15%”. Pharma has emerged as huge contender to drive the next leg of the rally, in anticipation pharma stocks have seen a huge run-up in the last few days.
  2. AI, Tech and Automation– while there is a prediction of IT spend declining by 3-4% this year, there will be increased demand for solutions running on AI, machine learning, and Automation of services to reduce human dependency and enhance data accuracy.
  3. Food and Beverage will be seen to recover faster as supply chains will open as soon as the lockdown lifts. To serve current consumer needs, AgriTech startups will get a platform and market space to pitch their offerings.
  4. Virtual platforms & E-retail business– consumer buying has shifted to online platforms and the current scenario has added to the push, whether it’s learning, food, or FMCG, online retail will be quick to return once the lockdown is lifted.

5. Finally, how does Covid-19 change the outlook on Robotics & Automation?

While there is been an initial hit in investor sentiment, COVID-19 provides the impetus for developing, testing, and launching advanced robotic and automation solutions.

Ranging from IFM service delivery (cleaning, engineering, security, etc.) to bigger construction projects, robotics and automation will deliver needed expertise, business resilience for future and risk mitigation, with respect to manual labour.

There will be an increased demand for robotics and automation solutions, be it in CRE, manufacturing, or other labour dependent/ high precision output industry.

We, at Peppermint, would like to thank Kumud to have taken time out and answered the questions in such detail. We are sure there are lots of learnings for all the readers.

[Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed above belong solely to the individual & not necessarily the individual’s employer]

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