Workplace and Facilities Management Terms, Glossary and Abbreviation Meanings
Facility Management is a complex field and, as such, it requires the use of complex terminology. That means you’ll see some acronyms crop up as you’re working through the logistics of managing and moving your new office space real estate. Information is the key to successful facility management, and you don’t want to be left scratching your head at an alphabet soup of acronyms.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common Space and Facility Management terms and review what they mean so you can be sure to stay ahead of the curve as you plan moves, manage employees, carry out a successful space inventory and space utilization of the additional space and facilities in your office. You may also see some of these terms as you work with SpaceIQ’s workplace management platform, so let’s dive in and explore this vocabulary as your first step toward facility management success.
Activity Based Office Space
Activity Based Workplace/Workspace (ABW)
An activity-based workplace (ABW) embraces an agile approach to the office environment. An office that embraces ABW concepts will not remain tethered to a traditional, fixed seating chart. Rather, ABW offices allow employees to choose which locations will best facilitate their ability to get work done. For example, an employee may find that she does data entry tasks best in a lounge setting, but that she prefers to take phone calls and answer emails at a desk. In an activity-based workplace, this employee would be able to move to different locations as she sees fit. First introduced in the 1995 book “The Demise of the Office” by Dutch authors Erik Veldhoen and Bart Piepers, the ABW concept aims to increase productivity by giving individuals more autonomy over their workday with the ultimate goal of boosting productivity.
In an operational context, the concept of agility refers to procedural flexibility designed to maximize productivity and enhance employee satisfaction through autonomy. Agile workplaces and offices facilitates freedom for workers to make independent decisions on where and how to do their best work. An agile workplace may provide several different curated spaces and flexible seating areas. Employees are given free access to these spaces and are not required to stay put at his or her assigned desk for the duration of the workday. The basic concept behind the agile workplace is that each individual employee knows how to do their best work and should be given the freedom to do so.
An organization’s physical assets (e.g., desks, computers, chairs, etc.) are often involved with major expenditure, which means that it’s in an organization’s best interest to avoid losses in this area wherever possible. Asset management is a system by which these physical assets are catalogued in a single system of record as a means of minimizing losses and maximizing value for existing equipment. Proper asset management can lead to a reduction in overall equipment costs and increased returns from property as management avoids unnecessary expenditures and cuts down on the chances of items randomly going missing.
Building Automation System (BAS)
A building automation system (BAS) combines everything from HVAC and lighting to security alarms and AV features into a single system that operates within an office or building. This centralized system uses computer-controlled automation to manage the operation of all of the various components included in the BAS. When combined with sensors and other automation technology, a BAS can eliminate the need for human control over various systems. This means that an office can program their BAS to turn lights on and off at specific times of the day or in response to input from a motion sensor. Because a BAS uses computer network technology to control all of its various elements, security can be a major concern to prevent outside interference with the BAS’s integrated systems and settings.
Building Energy Management System (BEMS)
BEMS technology allows for the automated control of a facility’s complete energy needs, including lighting, HVAC, security, fire, and other systems. With a BEMS system, power consumption is monitored and optimized by a specialized computer program designed to replace manual human management of these systems. This helps cut costs by ensuring that energy consumption is efficient as possible.
Building Information Modeling (BIM)
BIM technology centers around 3D modeling programs that provide a customized simulation of an actual building or facility. Most often seen in architecture, construction, and engineering contexts, BIM also has applications for facility management, in which case it may be referred to as BIM FM. The 3D rendering of a particular facility makes it possible for users to virtually move through a space and observe its features, dimensions, and infrastructure without making these observations in person. This can be particularly useful for facility management professionals engaging in space planning and other FM activities for offsite buildings.
Capacity planning is a data analysis activity designed to help facilities professionals predict the point at which buildings or individual floors will reach their occupancy capacity. Capacity projections tools can assist with the analysis necessary to perform accurate capacity planning.
Computer-Aided Design (CAD)
Computer-aided design (CAD) is a process by which designers draw up specific plans using a computer. With CAD, a designer can create a realistic 3D model of anything from a small toy to a complete office building. In the context of an IWMS program, CAD is useful for providing precise floorplan diagrams and other realistic elements that represent the physical space in the office and allow users to gain a high-level view of the space they’re working with. CAD diagrams can be created to perfect scale and dimension in order to reflect the exact shape, size and features of a room, which allows for effective space planning without the use of paper blueprints.
Computer-Aided Facility Management (CAFM)
Computer-Aided Facility Management is a revolution in the way FM tasks are carried out. Rather than tracking assets and employees on paper, organizations can now use digitized CAFM programs to easily track, manage, visualize and conceptualize all of the physical elements of an office. CAFM programs make pen-and-paper management and even computerized spreadsheets a thing of the past. CAFM programs focus on space planning and optimization and asset management, and are particularly useful while executing facility moves.
Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS)
Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) allow an organization to use a single digitized reporting and recording system for anything relating to maintenance needs in the office. These systems make the process of reporting and addressing physical maintenance problems easier for the employees or managers reporting the problems they observe or experience, which can theoretically lead to more frequent and prompt reporting than a traditional in-person or paper reporting system. CCMS tools also allow maintenance staff to quickly see what needs to be fixed to facilitate better planning and make the acquisition of necessary supplies easier as well.
Curated spaces are areas within a workplace that are designed to serve a specific purpose. These areas include equipment, furnishings, and other features that support the specific task they’re intended for. A curated space for collaboration, for example, might have whiteboards, projector equipment, ample seating, and plenty of power outlets to accommodate multiple people and facilitate information sharing.
A digital model, representation, or reproduction of a physical object that exists in the real world. Though digital twin representations are often used to keep information about machines like printers or IoT components like sensors, they can also be used for more traditional physical assets like desks or entire buildings. For example, a SpaceIQ Floor Map is a digital twin that features a virtual recreation of an entire floor of an office, including not only desks but also the additional equipment and individual rooms on that floor.
Using a digital twin allows professionals to keep track of business assets in a single system of record, which can be particularly helpful for organizations with a lot of equipment or several different locations. These organizations can use a digital twin model of their office spaces to make changes to and monitor physical assets in real time. The digital twin can provide a single cohesive resource for data analysis, allowing for greater efficiency and more accurate planning.
Employee engagement describes the relationship between an employee and the company. A highly engaged employee is not only satisfied with their work, but also feels positively about the company and is motivated to further the company’s larger goals and reputation. Companies can determine employee engagement through surveys designed to measure this metric.
High employee engagement is important to foster because an engaged workforce will have less turnover and more people actively working to meet the company’s goals. The workplace has a major impact on employee engagement and helping employees to feel they are a valuable part of the team and excited to come to work.
Facility Management (FM)
The Facility Management process is a broad discipline that takes a high-level view of an organization’s assets, business resources and employees. From the office building itself to the furniture occupying the rooms therein, the computers on the desks and the people using those computers, FM concerns itself with the administration, use and care of an organization’s physical assets and property. This management discipline is primarily concerned with physical logistics, though some technological concerns are becoming increasingly relevant as digital functions become more prominent in the modern workplace.
Facility coordinators are junior-level professionals who are responsible for lower-level FM tasks in the business world. Such tasks may include restocking supplies, helping to place orders for new furniture, calling for repairs and assisting higher-level office management staff with budgeting. In some cases, “facility coordinator” can be an alternative to the “office manager” job title. Most people in this career path tend to move on to a higher-level job after gaining some experience, often to a higher-level office management role.
Facility managers are professionals whose job functions focus on the execution of FM tasks and best practices. These professionals may be responsible for an entire building, including the interior or exterior, or may simply be in charge of FM concerns for a single floor. Organizations that hire dedicated facility managers tend to be larger in scale and have multiple different facilities that need to be properly maintained. Facilities managers may be required to respond to calls and perform maintenance tasks themselves.
Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)
The FASB is a private, non-profit organization founded in 1973. Comprised of accounting professionals, this independent board establishes accounting and financial reporting standards based on the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Though it functions independently, the FASB is recognized as a standard-setting body by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Flex space (or drop-in location): an offsite location between home and the office, eg. a shared office hub, coworking space or hot-desking space, often available by the day, hour or month through memberships or short-term leasing of a chair, desk or room.
Flexible seating environments do away with assigned seats and let workers choose where they want to sit instead. See agile workplace.
Hot desking is a seating concept that allows for some open, unassigned seating in an office space. Employees and office mates can then use these desks as needed when they’re available. Hot desks may be particularly useful for offices in which there is a high volume of people who do not need to sit at a desk throughout the day—workers who spend most of their time in a lab but may need a place to sit down and write out reports, for example, can make use of hot desks. The hot desking concept helps increase space utilization efficiency by avoiding the need to assign desks that will sit empty most of the time. With hot desks available, multiple different employees can use the same workstation at different points throughout the day. Hot desks typically don’t have a formal reservation system; workers can simply sit down when a hot desk is empty without needing to plan in advance.
Seats that are assigned on an as-needed basis are often referred to as hotel desks—see hoteling.
Hoteling is the practice by which desks or seats are reserved for employees on an as-needed basis. These seats, often referred to as hotel desks, may not actually be dedicated workstations but rather seats at shared tables and other workplaces. Employees who are not permanently assigned in an office, such as out-of-town employees on temporary assignment, seasonal contractors or consultants, are generally the best candidates for hoteling as these reserved seats are not designed to be a permanent part of the office’s seating chart. Workplaces that see a high volume of temporary employees coming and going may want to dedicate a few hotel desks. Workplaces that only occasionally need to provision hotel desks may not want to set aside dedicated workstations as these hotel desks may frequently sit empty, which negatively impacts space utilization efficiency.
Human-Centered Workplace Design
As the name implies, human-centered workplace design focuses on the needs of the individual people working in the office. There are multiple ways to interpret this concept, including a focus on health and sustainability, user-friendliness, and appealing design that makes employees feel comfortable and “at home” when they’re in the office. Human-centered design places a heavier emphasis on what it might feel like to be in the workplace rather than focusing on bottom-line concerns alone. This doesn’t mean that human-centered workplaces are not cost effective, but the concept represents a movement away from strictly impersonal utilitarianism in office design. Proponents of human-centered workplace design might argue that the workplace is an important resource for recruiting and productivity and therefore should be treated as more than a collection of physical assets.
Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS)
Integrated Workplace Management Systems are applications that allow for Lease Management, Move Management, Stack Planning, Project Management, Space Management and Maintenance Management tasks to be carried out within a single program. With a carefully designed IWMS, an organization’s FM team can make quick work of space allocation, resource tracking, facility optimization and more. This makes it easier overall to address budgetary and practical concerns in the workplace without requiring a significant time investment from management personnel.
International Accounting Standards Board (IASB)
The IASB is a private organization that operates independently to create a best-practices protocol known as International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Though based in the UK, the IASB follows rules to ensure that its 14-member board reflects a geographical balance, including members from Asia and Oceania, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. The IASB itself was formed in 2001, but it evolved out of the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC), which was founded in 1973.
International Facility Management Association (IFMA)
The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) is an international professional association for facility management specialists. The IFMA boasts more than 20,000 members from more than 100 countries and is comprised of several regional chapters and industrial subgroups. Even if you do not choose to become a member of IFMA, this organization is an excellent source of information on FM. In addition to self-educational tools on the IFMA website, this organization also offers FM classes for professionals of all skill levels. An office professional who is finding him or herself dealing more and more with FM-related concerns may want to join the association or take some classes as a non-member.
The Gartner Magic Quadrant is a four-part graph that provides a visual representation of the most prominent competitors in a specific technology sector. Gartner, an IT research and analysis firm, produces the Magic Quadrant graph to give industry insiders and consumers alike a high-level, easy-to-understand view of the competitive landscape by grouping industry competitors into one of four quadrants on a square-shaped chart. Displayed in a clockwise arrangement, the quadrants respectively represent leaders (established companies with a product that is likely to continue seeing success in the future), visionaries (companies with a product that is conceived well, but with relatively poor execution), niche players (bottom-tier companies that are not outperforming peers or are focused on too small a segment of the given industry to be considered truly competitive with others), and challengers (companies with a product that currently works well but that does not reflect anticipated changes in the industry). Gartner has released a Magic Quadrant for the IWMS industry.
Meeting Room Booking System
A meeting room booking system allows for the remote reservation of meeting rooms and other common areas in a facility. These online systems may also have scheduling tools or integrations to facilitate notifications and introduce clarity into the shared space checkout process. Advanced meeting room booking systems often integrate occupancy sensors or other types of sensors to avoid the issue of booked rooms sitting empty. This way, if an employee books a room for a meeting that is then cancelled, the system’s sensors will indicate that the room is unoccupied or that no one has entered the room at the appointed time, allowing the system to automatically release that room back into the system as available for booking.
Move Management allows organizations to plan and execute well-coordinated, efficient facility transfers from an old office space to a new one. There is a host of concerns to oversee during any moving process, but moving an entire office building from one space to another can be a major logistical undertaking. With proper Move Management, an FM team can easily coordinate details between different departments, track the current and future locations of specific physical objects and design a new Space Planning arrangement in the new building. Conceptual and abstract planning concerns are made much easier with efficient Move Management. Move Management also encompasses smaller moves executed to optimize space, and improve proximity between collaborating employees and departments.
Another agile seating option for maximizing space utilization efficiency, seating neighborhoods set aside a portion of available seats to be shared among more than one employee. Neighborhood seating is a popular option for workplaces that accommodate employees in multiple shifts throughout the day. For example, if there’s an A, B, and C shift, employees from all three shifts will be seated in a single group of desks. That way, there’s no need to assign desks to each employee and leave seats open when the assigned user’s shift is over. Seating neighborhoods therefore do not have a 1:1 ratio of workers to seats.
A workspace type that allows assigned seating to a specific space that is not a 1 to 1 ratio of desks to employees.
Occupancy sensors are responsible for detecting human presence in a specific room or space. These sensors can either automatically scan a room for occupants or be triggered by motion when a person enters or exits an area. One common example of occupancy sensors in real life are seen in bathrooms and other spaces where lights turn on automatically when a person enters. In this example, the lighting system uses an occupancy sensor.
Open Office Space
A workplace’s physical arrangement impacts employee productivity for better or worse, and what works for one company or team may not work for another. Dynamic planning for office space can help meet changing team needs quickly.
A product that is segmented into tiers provides different levels of feature access at different price points.
Real Estate Dashboard
In the SpaceIQ system, the real estate dashboard is the user interface that allows access to the real estate-focused parts of the program. In tech terms, a “dashboard” is a graphical user interface (GUI) that allows a user to navigate around the various features and tools in a program, ideally providing a system so straightforward and intuitive that minimal education is required for use.
Real Estate Forecasting
Effective real estate forecasting allows facilities managers to leverage data and arrive at an informed estimate for future real estate needs. Real estate forecasting usually requires the use of data such as projected future growth rates and total workplace capacity to determine when the organization may need to expand into a larger office space in the future. Specialized projection tools can make this process much easier and more accurate.
Real Estate Projections
Real estate projections use growth and facility capacity data to project future occupancy rates. See real estate forecasting.
Sensor technology allows for the automation of various data collection efforts. There are two primary sensor types of relevancy for facility management: infrastructure sensors and occupants-related sensors. Infrastructure sensors focus on utilities, making it possible to collect information or control usage for equipment, power lines, and other infrastructural facility components. Occupants-related sensors focus on the comfort and productivity of the people who inhabit a facility (i.e., climate control, security, lighting, etc.). Smart sensors can help eliminate waste by automatically turning lights off when a room is empty or adjusting HVAC settings based on ambient temperature. Many occupants-related sensors have motion-detection capabilities to enhance automation and reduce waste.
Space as a Service
Just as software as a service (SAAS) is revolutionizing the way businesses use software programs, space as a service has the potential to change the way we think about office space. The space as a service model dovetails with the coworking concept in that it sees workstations, desks, conference rooms, and other elements of a workplace being moved to a centralized model of shared space. Individuals and organizations alike can rent space on an as-needed basis without taking on the full burden of facilities responsibility that comes with office leases or ownership. These responsibilities, such as maintenance concerns, fall under the purview of the space as a service provider rather than the tenant.
Space as a service doesn’t necessarily apply only to coworking spaces in which people from different organizations share the same office. It can also be seen as a sort of property management concept in which a space as a service provider takes over facilities needs for an organization and transforms the way its spaces function.
Space Management is another granular subset of the broader FM concept. Rather than managing the big-picture of the workplace as a whole, Space Management has to do with specific details such as which desks are occupied and by whom, what parts of your building are under or over utilized, how many open conference rooms there are at a given time and even details like the total number of rolling desk chairs in the office space. Proper Space Management can keep you on top of the changing space needs in your office that come with personnel changes and expansions. Whether it’s an additional desk or an entirely new office facility, Space Management allows you to track and anticipate shifts in your allocation and inventory needs.
Space Planning deals with the coordination and allocation of available office space as defined by your available floor plan. An incredibly broad subject, Space Planning handles everything from real estate needs, including size, type and purpose, down to office layout and seating assignments. it can cover the scope of an entire multi-story building or a single room with a dozen desks. The process of Space Planning allows for the optimization of departmental placement. For example, the decision to seat a web design team directly next to the copywriting department can be an efficient choice for intra-departmental collaboration and consultation. These concerns are at the core of space planning and they can evolve over the course of an organization’s growth and development.
Facility managers can use stack planning as an efficient way of assigning seats to entire departments rather than seating one employee at a time. The “stack” in stack planning refers to a stacked view of multiple floors in a building. The major benefit of this space planning approach is the efficiency provided by a high-level view that forgoes fine details like individual seats and people in favor of a broader approach that makes seat assignments move much more quickly. This technique also makes it easy to group departments or teams together in a way that facilitates efficient collaboration.
System of Record (SOR)
A System of Record, overall, is the source of current and historical data within an organization. A source where not only current data can be found, extracted and shared, but historical data can be stored as well. in Facility Management, a CAFM program requires a lot of data collection and analysis, and now static spreadsheets or pen pen and paper are no longer being used to track your FM usage and planning activities, you need somewhere to store and organize all that data. That’s what a System of Record (SOR) is. If your company uses Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or practice management software, you’re using a different kind of SOR. Modern businesses use SOR programs for a range of different applications. These programs make it much easier to deal with a high volume of data inputs and provide the synthesizing power you need to really track and analyze your activities.
In a Facility Management context, SOR programs can help you keep tabs on which parts of your facilities are being used and when. SpaceIQ has the added benefit of giving you employee tracking and profile storage so you can incorporate HR needs into your SOR. As SpaceIQ shows, a SOR program can be much more than just a digital filing cabinet where you store information. It can be a multifaceted program that you use to plan, track, manage and analyze not only data but the functions connected to that data at a higher level. The SOR function of a program like SpaceIQ is just one of the essential features that makes this CAFM software so useful and vital in a successful and well-managed work environment.
System for Cross-Domain Identity Management (SCIM)
System for Cross-Domain Identity Management (SCIM) is an Information Technology (IT) standard that relates to user management for an organization’s tech systems. SCIM makes the process of on-boarding incoming employees and off-boarding outgoing employees much smoother. With today’s connected offices, hiring and firing or saying goodbye to employees who leave voluntarily is no longer a simple matter of updating some files. New employees need to gain access to internal systems so they can use all the tech tools their coworkers use. Departing employees need to have those access permissions revoked or downgraded so the company’s information stays private and accessible only to those who are currently members of your team.
SpaceIQ includes SCIM functionality to make the on-boarding process a lot easier. On the first day, you can create a new employee profile in the program so everyone in the office stays plugged into functions like workspace checkouts and employee location tracking. Having the ability to use these services, to find a supervisor or learn the ropes of how shared workspaces are allotted, can be an essential part of making a new employee feel comfortable on his or her first day in a new office. When an employee leaves, it’s simple to remove their profile from active status so you don’t end up bogged down in old information for people who are no longer active members of your team.
A ticketing system allows users to report problems with a specific system. In a facility management context, ticketing generally refers to facility maintenance issues such as malfunctioning building equipment or janitorial requests. Each issue report is referred to as a ticket. See work order.
Wayfinding technology guides users through a physical environment, providing point-to-point navigation with a virtual representation of the space. This technology is particularly beneficial in complex built environments, such as university campuses and transportation hubs, in which there are multiple buildings and dispersed points of interest.
Workplace experience is the culture at a company’s working space that unites and drives its employees. Workplace experience is an important factor in increasing employee and overall company productivity.
The physical workplace impacts the employee experience. When the workplace experience is positive, employees are engaged and the workplace is built on teamwork and a shared vision of the company’s goals. An ideal environment eliminates friction that prevents productivity; employee work isn't hindered by spatial issues like working at their desks, finding collaborative spaces or booking a meeting room. A workplace that meets employee needs allows for greater productivity and more engaged employees.
Workplace Management falls under the FM umbrella, but it is its own entity with special considerations and processes. As part of FM, Workplace Management zeros in on efficiency and productivity in the office, and its scope of work can extend beyond mere space allocation and focus instead on everything from health and safety protocol to the financial analysis of workplace utilization. Logistics such as security, custodial services, optimal space utilization, and new employee workstation assignments can fall under the purview of workplace management.
Workplace Real Estate
Workplace real estate comprises a company’s property holding(s) used for office, retail or other physical working spaces. Effectively understanding and managing a company’s workplace real estate includes a comprehensive overview of several factors including lease management, revenue and location productivity, occupancy and space utilization.
Data about workplace real estate allows facilities managers and real estate portfolio managers to benchmark current data, make changes and observe trends in real time. Utilizing workplace real estate data can offer major cost savings with tools for data-driven decisions and effective future planning, saving time and resources by removing guesswork.
Work Seats function as a person’s primary work seat. Work can be categorized as assigned or shared work seats. Assigned work seats are assigned to be used by a specific person; shared seats are those which a group of people have the right to use. Work seats are typically found in connection to a desk, forming a workstation with or without separations from others in the form of walls, dividers and file storage space.
Work orders are the result of tickets submitted through a ticketing system. In other words, when an issue is reported through a ticketing system, it’s a work order notifying the appropriate professionals of the problem and their need to take action to fix that problem.
Workplace or Work Environment
Workplace or Work Environment is a platform that comprises of the physical office workspace and other locations including furniture, amendments and services; technologies and resources used for work; as well as the social environment that include colleagues, teams, bosses, agreements, rules and policies that enable a person to perform their work.