Customer stories: Andrew Watts, Head of Facilities Management at Workspace

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Customer name: Workspace Group

Date started with WeMaintain: April 1st 2021

Number of sites with WeMaintain: 59

Hi Andrew, could you tell us about Workspace and what your relationship is like with WeMaintain?

I head up the Facilities Management Department of Workspace, which owns and manages four million sq. ft of business space in London across 59 properties – we’re home to thousands of businesses including fast-growing and established brands. The facilities management team is responsible for the building services and FM operations within those buildings (including lifts).

We have around 165 lifts throughout our portfolio – though this number changes from time-to-time – and we use a single maintenance provider, WeMaintain, to maintain them all (with the exception of those few lifts currently under warranty, following either a replacement project or a building (re)development new installation).

Our contract with WeMaintain started in April this year; over six months in and past the mobilisation period, we’re very happy with the progress made.

And how essential are the lifts to the daily running of the business?

Many of our buildings do not have multiple lifts, meaning they’re single-lift buildings. A lot of our customers rely on the lifts, not just to access their space, but some may hold stock or products and require the lifts to transport goods into vans, to their customers, and so on.

If a device is out of use for any period of time, it affects everything from people’s daily moods to the running of their business. In a digital social world, feedback (e.g. via Trustpilot or Amazon reviews) can really have an impact on small businesses and at Workspace we of course want to retain their business for the long term. With this in mind, the uptime of our lifts is business critical for both us and our customers.

What has your experience been with WeMaintain so far?

The initial conversations I had with WeMaintain, both prior to and during the tender process, I found really refreshing. I was hearing business solutions to all of the problems that I’d historically encountered and experienced.  It was an approach based on technology and being proactive. I thought WeMaintain had a really good synergy with what we at Workspace were looking for. Equally, their solution was also empowering the engineers to have much more autonomy and giving them sufficient time to complete maintenance, so they weren’t overburdened with work and better able to deliver quality.

We have had a lot happening during WeMaintain’s first six months, and their engineers started in extra challenging circumstances. They had the task of reprogramming all the autodiallers across our portfolio, dealing with flooded lift pits due to heavy rainfall, and bringing in a new insurance provider.  In a recent monthly review, we were discussing the end of these first six months. All of the KPI metrics are trending in the right direction. Our uptime has increased, first time fixes are up, where there are outages – the lifts are returned to service quicker. When any new maintenance provider comes to Workspace it’s usually a really testing mobilisation period because of the sheer volume of buildings and the churn that we have. We offer 24-hour access to all of our buildings for customers who work different hours – so it takes a lot to understand the nature of our business and withstand the usage.

We’re now starting to see an increase in footfall coming back to our buildings week by week, so as things get busier it may be that we encounter an increase in reliability, however hopefully we’re in a good place to withstand that.

All in all, we’re seeing performance improvement against what we've historically seen, and we’re really impressed. I think it’s been a real team effort from everyone on the WeMaintain side - so very well done and a big thank you.

What do you find sets WeMaintain apart from other providers?

They understood the gap in the market, and identified the frustration that people on my side of the table were having - and saw an opportunity. Sometimes service providers’ delivery doesn’t meet the sales pitch. WeMaintain, however, are really backing their vision and strategy. The interrelationship between WeMaintain and ourselves feels aligned. From our key account manager to our dedicated engineers, everyone seems to understand the vision, strategy, and service requirement, they’re all going in the same direction.

At the beginning of our talks with WeMaintain, something that really struck a chord with me was Tom, WeMaintain’s MD, said he didn’t want to just recruit an engineer because he or she was a good engineer, he additionally wanted to find the right personality fit for Workspace. 

We try to be very forward-thinking and like to anticipate what our customers want, and so it’s refreshing when WeMaintain talk to us about initiatives and solutions, rather than having to present them ourselves to the maintenance provider. We’re excited to be getting IoT installed on our lifts and seeing how we can improve maintenance even further.

For someone who has such a wide range of responsibilities, it’s great not to worry about encountering lots of issues.

What do you think about the technology WeMaintain has built and how does it add value to your business (or will in the future)?

WeMaintain are installing numerous IoT sensors in our lifts, a technology that we were looking at previously – so it’s great to have this in one place with our maintenance provider.

At the moment Workspace maintain every lift in the same way, regardless of whether it does 1000 trips a day or 10 trips a day, so I’m interested to see how we can proactively manage the maintenance based on usage rather than time.

With this visibility we can divert more attention to busier lifts and also better inform our decisions on capital replacement or upgrades by looking at the number of trips rather than age of a lift. For example, we might have a lift that’s 15 years old that we’d assume we should replace. However, we might also have a lift that’s 5 years old that’s making 10 times the number of trips as the 15-year-old lift. So, gathering this information is key to managing our capital replacement programme.

If there's any technology or monitoring of that information that the lifts are capturing, that means that we get to deal with an issue and prevent a lift going out of service.

It’s exciting to see the installation of WeMaintain’s technology as well as the capturing of meaningful data. I’m keen to see how the amount and type of usage of our lifts can improve our service offering. This can include being smarter with our lift car positioning (reducing wait time for customers), balancing usage where we have multiple lifts (so one lift doesn’t take all the workload) and reducing our energy consumption (by not running lifts in non-peak periods) assisting our carbon net-zero by 2030 target.

How likely are you to recommend WeMaintain?

Not at all - I want to keep WeMaintain a secret, I won't tell anybody else, just look after Workspace please!

To find out how WeMaintain can change building maintenance for you, click here. ⬅️

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