By Nai Kanell
Director of Marketing
SpaceIQ

What is facility management? Facility management is a term that encompass a lot in today’s workplaces. It’s more than making sure everyone has a desk. The modern facilities manager is a critical cog in keeping a business operating efficiently.

Space planning and utilization are still the core of a facility manager’s job, but their duties go far beyond. Today’s facilities manager may find themselves managing hot desks, coordinating use of multipurpose spaces, and pouring over sensor-driven occupancy data. It’s their responsibility to ensure everything is running smoothly.

Doing more with better tech

Technology defines the modern facilities manager.  For starters, facility management software has opened the door to critical data. Having access to statistics such as occupancy rates, cost per head, and location-specific revenue data sheds new light on how facilities are used. A decade ago facilities managers organized workplaces around a certain theme or style. Now, they have the power to arrange and run workplaces according to data.

Because facilities management software enables instant insight, facilities managers are tasked with doing more. They can organize entire desk neighborhoods for better productivity and seamlessly manage a fleet of hotel desks to make the most of limited space.

Facilities management is primarily about space utilization and occupancy efficiency, which goes far beyond desks. It extends to utilities, technology, communication, and the versatile evolution of how the office functions. Namely, it comes down to two areas: space and infrastructure vs. people and planning. A good facilities manager needs to excel at both.

Space and infrastructure

The space and infrastructure side of facilities management deals with the physical area of the workplace. Office design, workplace layout, occupancy management, and leasing run through the facilities manager. Optimizing the physical aspects of a workplace is what fosters productivity, workplace culture, and frictionless interaction among coworkers. Some critical areas of focus include:

  • Utilities: The coffee maker in the break room is broken. There’s no toilet paper in the bathroom on the fourth floor. The motion sensor lights in the executive suite aren’t working. Facilities managers are the touchpoint for these problems and more. They field requests and inquiries, direct them to the right problem-solver, and follow up to ensure they’re complete.
  • Office design: Does your workplace require collaborative areas? Do workers prefer an open floor plan? Are you planning departmental neighborhoods? Designing an office to support the workers within it is a core task of facilities management—one that may be revisited many times as demands change. Using data, managers can make decisions about workplace design that benefit both workers and the company.
  • Space management: In agile work areas, managing space is critical for optimization. Facilities managers must coordinate who’s using what space to balance productivity and costs.

Facilities managers are also at the heart of construction projects and leasing decisions. Frequently, they work with maintenance departments, executive teams, finance, and accounting to create new workplaces or modify existing leased space for maximum efficiency.

People and planning

Workspaces are about more than square footage—they’re also about the people in them. A good facilities management system incorporates the people as much as it focuses on the physical space. Here are a few tasks on the people and planning side of things:

  • Planning: Businesses grow and change. As a result, their workplaces need to expand. Facilities managers provide data to decision-makers on how to accommodate employees, cost per head, and more. Even within existing offices, a facilities manager will help adapt agile workspaces and coordinate interdepartmental moves.
  • Safety: Fire drills and emergency training seminars don’t schedule themselves. Facilities managers implement policies and stay up-to-date on codes and compliance.
  • Data: Robust data about key workplace metrics—cost per square foot, cost per head, utilization, and occupancy rates—empowers facilities managers to advocate decision-makers for change. When accountants want to trim the fat in a facility, they’ll ask the facilities manager how to optimize. The same goes for real estate portfolio managers, executives, and anyone else managing a budget impacted by the workplace.

This is a fraction of what facilities managers are actually tasked with. Things like catering, cleaning, visitor hospitality and more all fall under this segment of duties. Even working alongside marketing and accounting are common when it comes to people and planning. Read more on why is facility management important for productivity.