When the folks at DuPont Antron invited me to facilitate a panel discussion among members of its End-Use Advisory Council, I was anxious to reacquaint myself with the professionals involved and get an update on their facilities-related activities and concerns. Council members – each with a breadth of knowledge and years of experience – are involved in a gamut of facilities types: corporate headquarters, field offices, educational buildings, retail, and more. We met last year, just weeks after the events of September 11, and the dialogue then (as it was this year) was honest, forthright, and surprising (noted in my column in the January 2002 issue). Not surprisingly, all continue to be focused on the future.
Of particular note:
Although all had been involved in a review of their companies’ security policies over the past several months, upgraded measures have ranged from adequate to dramatic. One individual stated how much the success of security requires technology and policies to go hand-in-hand: “I’ve always felt that security is an attitude, because you can have all the security systems in the world but if your employees don’t help that security system function properly, it’s not going to work.”
Business continuity and disaster recovery are much more concrete goals. Almost across-the-board, company management among the council members has been committing more funds and resources to the development of such areas, as well as expecting a formalized plan to result. “100-percent redundancy,” was a statement made by one participant, and echoed by many.
Lease concessions, and a hesitancy to go forward with new projects, are clear reactions to the economic climate. One member’s comment: “I can tell you, based on the economy, it’s a great time to be negotiating a lease … It’s not a matter of will we save money going forward the next 10 or 15 years; it’s a question of how much are we going to save?”
Discussions on sustainability and green issues revolved around definitions, cost, image, and philosophy. Most conceded that mandated legislation would spur the green movement forward, “but,” noted one participant, “it probably won’t pass in the current economic condition because [government isn’t] going to force that onto an industry that’s already hurting.” Additionally, council members believed that third-party certification of “green” products – but only if the credentials of the third-party certifier were acceptable – would help distinguish more environmentally sensitive products from those that are availing themselves of the ambiguity of the green movement.
The individual who labeled last year’s quest as “finding a ‘new’ normal,” defined next year as a time of innovation. “[It will be] a time of evaluating what we do, and what if we did it differently.”