A Brief Introduction to Facilities Management
By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
From an outsider’s perspective, “facilities management” seems self-explanatory. For anyone pursuing a career as a facilities manager, it can seem like an oversimplification for a job growing more complex each year. To understand the title, the role, and everything that comes with them, it’s best to get a brief introduction to facilities management.
Below, we’ll explore what facilities management is, what its core functions are, how facilities managers do their jobs, and what the objective in all of it is. Keep in mind that while we’ll address the basics, facilities management is in an era of innovation right now. How businesses use commercial real estate, employee expectations for facilities, and the tools that govern facilities are all growing and changing.
What is facilities management?
Facilities management involves coordination, delivery, and management of building support services that impact operations. In most organizations, facilities management is the sum of multiple focuses, all related to the building and what happens within it:
- Building operations
- Grounds management
- Project management
- Real estate management
- Employee safety and security
- Space planning
- Environmental and sustainability
- Workplace strategy
Facilities management spans both “hard” and “soft” services, with a scope of work that can vary depending on the size of the organization or the complexities of facilities. Corresponding duties focus on the building (hard) and people (soft), and work to bring them together in a way that benefits operations. According to the International Facility Management Association (IFMA):
“Facility management (FM) is a profession that encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure functionality, comfort, safety and efficiency of the built environment by integrating people, place, process and technology.”
The functions of facilities management span 11 core skill sets, according to IFMA. Facilities managers need to consider each of them as they cultivate and maintain facilities that enable and empower employees:
The beauty of facilities management is that it’s scalable. A small startup company with only a few employees and a small workplace won’t need the same oversight as a multinational company with thousands of staff spread across dozens of buildings in as many countries. It’s up to facilities managers to align their duties with the company mission, at the scale necessary for success.
A rundown of facility management software
It’s impossible to talk about facilities management today without mentioning the exploding marketplace for facility management software. The rise in data-driven decision-making by companies has facilitated the need to not only de-silo data, but to quantify as much of the workplace as possible.
Today’s software, in conjunction with the Internet of Things (IoT), sheds amazing insight into how the workplace actually works. Whether it’s hot desk utilization or temporary floor plan development, software provides key insights that drive better decisions. Moreover, data collected and aggregated by workplace software becomes benchmarks for improvement. Whether for cost-control or productivity improvement, facility software paves the way for betterment.
As is the case with most technologies, today’s workplace software helps facilities managers do their job better and faster. Machine learning insights, automation, and robust data reporting all add up to a better picture of the perfect work environment—from individual workspaces to the building as a whole.
What’s the objective of facilities management?
The endgame for every facilities manager is to create a workplace that supports success at every level—from individual employees (micro) to the company (macro). Facilities need to be safe, welcoming, accommodating, empowering, versatile, agile, cost-efficient, and adaptable to meet diverse expectations.
Think of how many facets of business operation the workplace touches—even today, during the age of distributed teams and remote work. Wherever it’s involved, the workplace needs to provide unwavering support—whether that’s reliable wifi, a comfortable workspace, an emergency exit, clean air, sanitary bathrooms, and beyond. The core objective of facilities management is to proactively meet any and all demands of the workforce and the business, to foster success.
There’s growing demand for good management
Facilities manager is a position with growing demand in the corporate world. Beyond taking care of facilities or overseeing employees’ interaction with the workplace, facilities management is now a core part of a company’s strategy for success. Like a CEO manages operations or a CFO oversees finances, a facilities manager is a paramount addition to any company that recognizes the power of the workplace to affect success.
Keep reading: Why is Facility Management Important for Productivity?