A Quick Facility Management Guide for Beginners
By Reagan Nickl
Customer Success Senior Manager
Facility management is a broad, ever-advancing field. If you’re looking for a facility management guide, there’s no shortage of options stretching back decades. Unfortunately, the reason there are so many is because the job duties of a facilities manager (FM) continue to evolve and expand—especially in today’s age of workplace digitization.
Whether you’re looking to get into the field or determining if your company needs an FM, it helps to understand what the job entails. We’ve put together something of a crash course in facility management. Call it our “Quick Facility Management Guide for Beginners.”
Lesson 1: What is facility management?
The best place to start is with a critical understanding of the functions of facilities management. In practice, they fall into three primary areas:
- Building maintenance and improvement
- Ensuring facilities meet the needs of occupants
- Integrating and leveraging workplace technology
Integrating these practices into company operations sets the tone for success. Think of each facilities management pillar as part of a Venn diagram. There’s overlap between each, and recognizing these cross sections is the foundation for good facilities management.
Lesson 2: Quick facilities management stats and tips
What makes facilities management so important? Aside from cultivating a workplace that’s supportive of staff and instrumental in company success, facility management is of growing concern to companies seeking to optimize costs.
In 2017, the cost of renting commercial real estate topped almost $87 billion in the U.S. Smart companies see the workplace as an asset they can control and reap maximum value from. To do that, they need to invest in facilities management. Take a look at a few facility management tips for lowering costs and why it makes sense to control future costs:
- Pay attention to space utilization. It’s not about how many people you can cram into a space; it’s about maximizing ROI by empowering the people within it.
- Consider different types of workspaces within the greater workplace. Not every person needs the same workspace and exploring different space styles can boost ROI.
- Understand how workplace digitization plays a role in lowering costs. Consider aspects like remote workers, optimization data, and insights about workspace costs.
Optimizing the workplace means understanding it. To do that requires someone with intimate familiarity of the space, the people in it, and the technologies surrounding it. There’s a reason these are the primary responsibilities of facilities management.
Lesson 3: Who sets the standards for facilities management?
Like most professional fields, facilities management is subject to standardization. There are facility management best practices set down by national and international organizations with the expressed purpose of creating benchmarks for quality, consistency, and excellence.
- The International Standards Organization (ISO); namely ISO 41011:2017
- The International Facilities Management Association (IFMA)
- The American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
- The Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) (U.K.)
- The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA)
These organizations and others like them set the tone for facilities management in the modern age. They formulate best practices, stay abreast of industry trends, report on current events, and offer accreditation and educational programs to improve facility manager stewardship. Ultimately, they’re the main contributors in standardizing the practice of facilities management across industries.
Lesson 4: Developing facility action plans
While they’re charged with managing the physical assets of the workplace, facilities managers also dote heavily on process development. The facility management plan umbrella covers processes like submitting maintenance requests, strategizing a move, and evaluating vendors.
Action plans and processes are vital to a company because they dictate how the workplace gets used. It’s not enough to provide workers empty space—there need to be rules, actions, and activities to ensure their needs are met. It spans simple actions like submitting a support ticket for a broken computer, up to something potentially life-saving, like coordinating an emergency evacuation schedule. If it takes place within facilities, it falls under the umbrella of facilities management.
Lesson 5: Top facility manager traits
The breadth of facility manager responsibilities is ever-growing. Good candidates bring a diverse skill set to the table and put those talents to work daily on problem-solving and anticipating workplace needs. Here’s what’s in demand:
- Good organization and structured management
- Project management and leadership skills
- Problem-solving and creative adaptation
- Leadership and liaison abilities
- Risk identification and management
- Quality control and attention to detail
It’s no coincidence that most of these traits trend toward management, organization, and accountability. There’s a lot riding on how the workplace is managed. Individuals willing to bear the burden need to accept the many challenges of facilities management and have the ingrained skills required to surmount them.
Lesson 6: Keep industry evolution in mind
As mentioned, facility management is an evolving career—more so today than ever before. The best thing an FM can do to keep pace is pay close attention to the needs of facilities and the people using them. The demands of people and the way they work perpetuate trends within facilities management. It’s the duty of a facility manager to see that they’re adopted, optimized, and measured.