Managing Covid-19 and an acquisition

The team in Western Australia has experienced a unique period. Many team members came into the Facilities First family as part of an acquisition.

This meant change, not overly dramatic change, as the acquisition was largely based on shared values, but change nonetheless, and with change comes a level of uncertainty and things can feel a little unbalanced..

“We worked hard during the acquisition to integrate our staff into the Facilities First systems.

We were very lucky to have the full support of the new management, which meant we could continue to carry on as business as usual, just under another brand name and the additional resources that come with a national organisation,” says Tammy Vladich, State Manager – Western Australia.

As the team members were integrating and learning new systems, along came Covid-19, and although not nearly as impactful as it has been on our colleagues on the east coast, the team still needed to manage it successfully. Operational changes required a variety of staff to work from home, and the team needed to redeploy members of field operations to more critical facilities. This shift meant removing much of our workforce away from familiar surroundings and the close contact support of their colleagues, to isolated, and at times, high pressure and uncertain environments.

Learning on the fly

Managing an acquisition integration requires a level of expertise that staff may experience two, possibly three, times in their careers.

There are dedicated organisations that specialise in the process; however, for the organisation itself, it is often a time of high emotion and a time when new nomenclature comes into a manager’s vocabulary. ‘Cultural alignment, leadership team evaluation, working synergies, client communication strategy.’

With these new designs, the focus shifts as the business unpacks new systems, develops integration action plans and manages natural cultural resistance and complexities. It is a steep learning curve, and other considerations such as the retention of key staff, moving the deck chairs to ensure people are in the best position for the business and themselves, and ensuring a full team ‘buy in’ from both sides are critical factors that can make or break the success of an acquisition integration.

“Retaining our key staff was a priority. Many of the team members had been with the company for 10-15 years. Facilities First understood the value in keeping a cohesive and efficient team together,” continues Tammy.

In 2020, the WA team was finding its feet and untangling the nuances of an acquisition integration, just as Covid-19 began impacting the country, introducing a layer of risk where no playbook or procedural manual had been written. Federal and State Governments scrambled to protect their citizens, borders closed, travel ground to a halt and facilities such as aged care, child care centres, schools, offices, and shopping centres were on high alert. As a facilities management organisation, every touchpoint of our business was now in the spotlight at a time when internal adjustments were still ongoing. Cleaning crews needed to upgrade their procedures, the team needed to redeploy and our focus pivoted again, this time to keeping our staff fully informed, retained and engaged during a secondary level of transition from new systems to now new working conditions. Additional safety and protections were employed for our staff and our clients’ facilities, along with office administrators, managers and officers needing to set up home working infrastructure to keep the cogs turning.

Toward the end of 2020, the management team, leaders and staff had successfully navigated the acquisition integration and the new working conditions imposed by Covid-19. It had been a monumental effort on every line, from frontline workers in the cleaning teams, client services officers and managers, operations and administration. Every aspect of the business had fortified its position and rallied together, and through a dedication to each other had found a new momentum and elevated level of communication that knitted the team through shared experiences and an uncompromising commitment to our clients.

“It is something you reflect on. At the time everybody is working so hard to keep the cogs turning, learn new systems and navigate a new world with the Covid-19 pandemic. It is later that you have the opportunity to evaluate just how adaptable and united the team really is. The team’s performance and how they came together to support each other is something I take great pride in,” says Tammy.

Acquisition number two

As fate would have it, as 2020 was closing its chapter on a very challenging year, the team would once again need to show the gritty resolve that had surfaced over the past 10-12 months. For the second time in a year, the company was acquired, this time by a global powerhouse. The team had gone from a local brand into a national organisation and was to become part of one of the biggest players on the global stage in the course of a single year.

Again, this shift thrusted the team into a new space; however, the experiences of 2020 enabled the team to adapt and respond with a heightened level of grace and confidence. We had been there before and had come out the other end, stronger and more united. This time we would do it again – and we did. The level of professionalism shown by the entire group was profound. Their instinctive ability to support each other and their willingness to forge their relationships was something that shone through. Every individual stood tall, faced the next set of challenges and set new benchmarks on what it means to contribute to the wellbeing of colleagues and clients. They do say that adversity breeds resilience, and in these difficult times our team has learnt that adversity also breeds unity. The management team at Facilities First WA brim with pride at the resilience and unity shown by everybody within the WA family.

“The experiences of the past 12 months have taught us a great deal, especially how much our team supports each other and how committed they are to being the very best at what they do. It is an amazing feeling to see this transpire and to know that whatever comes our way, our amazing team can handle it and grow from it. Through all the rigours and demands of two acquisitions and a pandemic, our clients remained engaged, our teams worked tirelessly to ensure facilities were at their optimum and our motivation and commitment never waned,” concludes Tammy.

We are a proven and experienced team, dedicated to the work we do. Our teams are committed to bringing the same level of care they have for each other to every job they undertake. When your facilities expect only the very best care and expertise, contact us today and experience the difference we make.

Contact Facilities First