Andy Smith

Senior Manager, Head Office Facilities at John Lewis Partnership

As a RICS chartered, executive level, built environment specialist experienced in all aspects of property operations, management and development, Andy is a highly regarded and influential leader of our industry.

We asked Andy for an insight to his role at John Lewis Partnership and his expert opinion on the challenges and opportunities that currently lie ahead of us.

Tell us about your role as Senior Manager, Head Office Facilities at John Lewis Partnership?

My job is to run the team that looks after Partners at the Head Offices’ Campuses. That is circa 6,000 workstations across nine buildings in two campuses (Bracknell in Berkshire and in London Victoria).

Our job is to coordinate FM services and deliver an outstanding working environment throughout the Head Office estate. The objective is to enable Partners to do their job effectively and work to the best of their ability. Therefore, what we do directly supports the performance of the business.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?

Providing an excellent service which is totally focused on the needs of the Partners. This requires us to have both the tools and the knowledge to do this in a professional manner, and to ensure we can respond rapidly to changing circumstances. But I think I get the greatest job satisfaction when I hear that one of our team has gone above and beyond to support a visitor or a colleague in their work.

What do you believe is the biggest challenge our industry faces right now?

Aside from simple financial survival, the future of our workplaces will inevitably change. The way we utilise buildings, their function and purpose should never go back to the way it was. Our historical connection with our workspace – as somewhere to administer the business – has been challenged over the past three months as we all adjusted to working from home. We have broken the norms and reset the culture. Therefore, if we accept the office environment needs to radically evolve, we should embrace this, and begin to develop spaces for community, for collaboration and connections. The property industry cannot stand still.

Where do you see the biggest opportunities?

As an industry, we are getting better at the graphical, geometric and data links between construction and building operations. There is still some way to go but it is improving as workflow efficiencies from BIM begin to embed into the construction process.

One of the biggest challenges is our legacy building stock where records are often still in 2D with disparate functional data in different formats, systems, and platforms. There is a great opportunity here to create a simple, cost effective route to digitisation and to offer adaptable systems that can provide the relevant and accurate data required to manage buildings efficiently.

The really interesting bit for me is not only the way we use the fixed data sets but how we can start looking at predictive analytics and space modelling from AI tools to optimise utilisation, layouts, and efficiency.

How do you believe technology will support planning in a post-COVID world?

Digital Inc.’s work for the John Lewis Partnership will underpin the way we continue to manage our buildings into the future. As someone who understands how virtual environment tech can support the physical estate, I know that our biggest challenge is demonstrating exactly how this can drive enhanced efficiencies and therefore positively affect our operational costs. Having a BIM strategy consisting of both visual representations and functional data is critical to demonstrating this value.

In my experience, no-one ever regrets a BIM journey – but getting started is often the most challenging phase. The reality is this journey should never end.