Getting started with BIM for facility management

At the completion of the design and construction phases, there’s an opportunity to hand over a lot more than just the keys to the facility. With BIM for facility management, you could be setting up stakeholders for improved space management, streamlined maintenance workflows, and a better understanding of the opportunities for long-term energy savings. By carefully leveraging some of the data from earlier phases, you can cut future operating and maintenance costs – the two biggest parts of your total cost of ownership across the facility life cycle. 


Current Facility Data for Future Design

Since the late 1960s, computer aided design has been a powerful tool in architecture engineering and construction, helping deliver faster design creation, modification, and optimization. But it’s always only been a way to make more precise designs and interact with them virtually. New developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning, though, put software into a more central role. 

Now, with predictive modeling you can use current operational and maintenance data to make decisions about future capital investments and facility design. Instead of using CAD to bring your ideas to virtual life, you feed the software data and ask it to both generate and test designs. You’re pulling the software a full step up in the process. 


BIM for FM: Building Personas

In the design and construction phases, your BIM is likely packed with 3D models of the future facilities and even digital twins of your critical assets. But what about during operations and maintenance, where you face most of your total cost of ownership? When implementing BIM for FM, where you’re repurposing your BIM data to better leverage it for facility management, an important part of the process is creating a new type of “digital twin,” the user persona. 

Where should you start when building personas for BIM for FM?

According to Chuck Mies, LEED A.P., Assoc. AIA of Autodesk, and a pioneer in BIM for FM, you need to first think about the end user. In a recent Eptura webinar, Leverage BIM to Unlock Facility and Asset Data, he asks this critical rhetorical question: “If we don’t understand who the final consumers are, what problem are we trying to solve?” 

Unless you know who’s going to use it, there’s no way to know what data you need to take along for the BIM for FM journey. Developing role-based personas helps you understand who needs what data and how best to set everyone up for success.

But first, it’s worth recapping the overall BIM for FM process to best understand where building personas go.

Recapping the BIM-for-FM journey

Although they develop lots of building information modeling (BIM) data during design, planning, and construction, many organizations lack a process for leveraging that investment for the last — and longest and most expensive — phases of the life cycle, operations and maintenance. So, when it comes time for facility management (FM), departments are left having to re-invent the wheel. 

But by making the BIM for FM journey, you can see a better return on your investments in data. 

To start, you need to answer the following core questions: 

  • Who is going to use the data and why do they need it?
  • What data are you going to collect and how are you going to do it?
  • How will you validate and maintain the data once you have it?

And for those first questions, an important part of finding the answers can involve developing user personas.

User personas in BIM for FM

On one level, a user persona is like a digital twin, a virtual representation of something that exists in the physical world. But there are important differences. First, it’s not the twin of something. It’s the twin of someone.

Second, it’s not a twin at all.

Understanding user personas

Instead of being a faithful copy of one specific person, a user persona is an archetype you build out of the most important traits shared by a large percentage of a specific type of end user. So, for example, a regular digital twin might be a highly accurate digital model of a specific motor you have on a production line. But the user persona you create of the technician who keeps that motor running doesn’t perfectly match any specific person in the maintenance department. Instead, it has the important characteristics shared by most of the technicians. These shared characteristics can include: 

  • Educational background
  • Responsibilities
  • Goals
  • Attitudes

Your goal is to be able to then use the persona to accurately predict behavior, specifically in terms of how they use data. You want to be able to predict what data those maintenance technicians need and how they use it to accomplish their goals.

Creating user personas: Asking the right questions

The overall process of BIM for FM starts with asking the right questions, and it’s the same for creating user personas. The basic questions you need to answer when creating a user persona for a specific role are: 

  • Who are they and what do they do?
  • What are their main, overall goals?
  • What is preventing them from reaching these goals?

Mies suggests starting with job titles. For example, Facility Manager, Maintenance Manager, or Maintenance Technician. You can then look up the roles and responsibilities that are already established in your organization. Instead of guessing what a maintenance manager does, you can reference the existing job description from the human resources department. Recent job postings can also help you, both from your company as well as external sources, such as recruitment sites and related industry publications. Lists are always helpful, but Mies also suggests summarizing them into an overall statement. For example, “Maintenance Manager User Persona One needs instant access to asset and equipment data so they can schedule and track both on-demand and preventive maintenance to boost time on wrench and cut costly downtime.” 

From there, you can start to think about the types of data the user persona needs to reach their goals. So, Maintenance Manager User Persona One might need access to: 

  • Digital O&M manuals
  • Asset and equipment locations
  • Associated open and historical work orders
  • Maintenance and repair checklists
  • Task instructions and known safety issues
  • Associated parts and materials
  • Reports on maintenance KPIs

But a good persona is more than a combination of lists and summary statements. 

Mies suggests giving your persona not only a name but also a face.

Instead of Maintenance Manager User Persona One, you have Mike McPhillips, with a stock image of a guy in a blue-collar shirt holding a tablet. The reason is human nature. You need to get into the head of your persona, both to create and then leverage them, and it’s just easier to relate to a person, even a made-up one.

Creating user personas: Asking the right people

When looking at what’s standing in their way, you can include, for example Roberta the maintenance manager, lack of access, visibility, and tracking. But those are general roadblocks, and the maintenance manager at your facility might have others to add or a completely different set.

The only way to know, and this is likely true for all the information you want to include in the persona, is to ask the real maintenance manager directly.

And that’s the case for all your personas. Asking people directly delivers good data.

But it’s not the only way to capture information for a persona. You can also look at job descriptions, both internal and ones on job sites, as well as industry publications and even websites and message boards. For example, if you were putting together a persona for a facility manager, you could look at some of job postings at IFMA. If you’re building a persona for a maintenance tech, you could look at the maintenance subreddit for some idea of the common challenges they face.


Although many organizations invest heavily in BIM during design, planning, and construction, they don’t have a process in place to leverage that data for the operations and maintenance phases, where they face the largest percentage of the total cost of ownership. A critical step in the BIM for FM journey is creating a new type of “digital twin,” the user persona.

Unlike a true twin, personas are archetypes based on common characteristics of a type of data user, for example a facility manager or maintenance manager. The benefit of creating personas is that once you understand who needs the data and how they need to use it, you can more easily decide which BIM data to bring over to the FM side. Good personas start with asking the right questions. Who are they? What are their goals? What’s stopping them from being successful.

To find those answers, you should talk directly with the people in those positions. You can also look at related job descriptions and job postings. In some cases, it can be helpful to look at related message boards to get a sense of the common concerns and challenges.


Why is Coworking Space Important?

As more companies embrace remote and hybrid work options, coworking spaces help them fill a unique void. Coworking offers social opportunities, networking prospects, and general human interaction in place of the isolation of working strictly from home.

There’s a lot for employees to love about coworking. But why is coworking space important? What impact will it have as the workforce continues to evolve?

Coworking isn’t only about accommodating remote and hybrid workers. It’s vital to commercial real estate because it benefits both companies and their employees equally. Coworking takes the most important and expensive business cost — the workplace — and turns it into a service. The space-as-a-service model unburdens balance sheets and creates workforce flexibility.

Outside cloud computing technologies, coworking is the biggest driver in the next evolution of how, where, and when we work.

A quick look at coworking space pros and cons

Coworking’s growing significance is due to its balance of benefits vs. drawbacks. Coworking space pros and cons are simple and equally proportioned, but the value of benefits significantly outweighs any drawbacks. 


As previously mentioned, coworking benefits both companies and employees. For companies, it’s all about cost savings. On the employee side, it’s about having the freedom to work in the best way for everyone. As remote and hybrid work models continue to become more popular, benefits will increase: 

  • Allows employees to work remotely in a professional setting
  • May prove more cost-effective for businesses as opposed to a larger lease
  • Improves networking opportunities for mobile workers
  • Zero maintenance involved in facility upkeep
  • Pay-as-you-go and membership models offer flexibility to professionals
  • Diverse space types, from individual workstations to group spaces
  • Accommodates almost all work hours


Most coworking drawbacks revolve around the openness of the space. Diverse people working in an equally diverse space means distractions. Moreover, there’s a general lack of hierarchy and order, which can take time for companies and employees to acclimate. The good news is that many of coworking’s drawbacks require new habits and familiarity:

  • Lack of permanence and dedicated personal space for traditional employees
  • Lack of privacy and excess of noise and distractions can be hard to cope with
  • Potential for personality conflicts between random individuals
  • Cost prohibitive to companies with rapidly growing space needs
  • Issues stemming from decentralized workers and lack of direct oversight
  • Desk availability isn’t always guaranteed (even with reservations)

So, are coworking spaces worth it? As demand for flexible work environments grows, commercial real estate costs rise, and employees enter the remote and hybrid workforce, coworking becomes even more critical. Based on the breakdown of pros and cons, most companies see them as an invaluable part of their business strategy.

Keeping pace with an evolving workforce

 The benefits of coworking add up to something pivotal for the world’s workforce. It’s an opportunity to reinvent the workplace, giving workers the stability of a traditional work environment and the flexibility inherent to remote work. As a result, it’s quickly becoming the new standard.

Work is becoming something without borders or barriers. People work shifts around the clock, 24 hours a day, to earn a living. What’s more, anyone can work from anywhere to get their paycheck. Coworking supports every worker, regardless of job description or duties. If provided remote working days, employees benefit from coworking and so do the businesses they work for.

The space-as-a-service model changes the way companies function, too. By taking the most expensive work element and turning it into a service, coworking companies maximize the value of physical workspace. As a result, companies spend less time worrying about how to arrange desks or their space optimization, leaving companies more time to focus on investing in their people. In turn, employees get the tools and assistance they need to do their jobs better.

Coworking creates flexibility

If there’s one trait prided above all in the workforce today, it’s adaptability. Being flexible in how, where, and when work gets done — without compromising the quality and efficacy of that work — is crucial to companies.

Coworking spaces enable this flexibility, allowing more of the workforce to be adaptable to changing demands. In lieu of a traditional workplace, companies realize how vital coworking is in enabling their employees. It’s hard to overstate the importance of coworking in the shift to a more remote, hybrid, autonomous workforce. 


The Benefits of BIM for Facilities Management

Watch How To Leverage BIM for Facilities Management

Many organizations still rely on different data sets for the separate phases of the life cycle. But by leveraging BIM, facility managers can track current usage and costs for better decision-making. They know where to invest and where to cut back. BIM for facilities management also helps with reducing risk while increasing agility. It helps you move more carefully but also faster, and always in the right direction. Implementing BIM for FM is a long-term, iterative process, but it starts with just three critical questions. 

Before looking at the implementation, it’s important to have a set of shared definitions for both facility management and BIM. 


What are Digital Twins?

A digital twin is the virtual version of its physical counterpart, making it perfect for simulation, integration, testing, and maintenance that’s safer, faster, and cheaper. With a dynamic digital twin of your workplace, you get actionable insights you can use for everything from space planning and move coordination to lease negotiations and employee management. 


Coworking vs. Traditional Office Pros and Cons

Professionals have many choices in how they work these days. The workplace environment is constantly changing, and hybrid work has become increasingly popular. Employees don’t only have to choose between working at a traditional office or working from home. Coworking spaces – neutral spaces designed to accommodate people from different companies to work side-by-side – are also available.

Given the options of a coworking space or the traditional office, which suits you better?

It’s easy to jump to conclusions solely based on emotions when making your choice. But it’s worth first looking at things logically. What kind of worker are you? What type of environment do you need? What professional traits do you have that lend themselves to one work environment over the other? Look at the pros and cons of each situation before making a choice.

Coworking Spaces

What are the pros and cons of a coworking space versus a traditional office? It comes down to greater autonomy and a person’s ability to adapt to that freedom. Coworking spaces attract workers with good time management and organization. They must set and keep their schedules productive outside of being directly managed. Coworking spaces also mean getting out of your comfort zone and routine, so it’s not for the skittish or those who prefer rigid structure.

Check out some of the top pros and cons of coworking to understand why it works for some but not others.

Benefits of Coworking Spaces

  • The freedom to work where and when you want
  • Change of scenery can be good for mental stimulation
  • Ability to book different types of workspaces for different lengths of time
  • Choice of many different types of coworking spaces and themes
  • Opportunities for socialization with other professionals

Cons of Coworking Spaces

  • Open office environment makes it hard to find privacy
  • Can be louder or more distracting than a traditional workplace
  • No face-to-face, in-person access to peers and coworkers
  • Not guaranteed a seat or any seating consistency
  • May not include perks like parking or a break room

If you’re not willing to create your own framework for productivity, a coworking space might not be for you. If you prefer predictability and do better with a clearly defined path, there’s no shame in choosing a traditional office workplace.

Traditional Office

In deciding between a coworking space or a traditional office, many people gravitate toward the idea of “more freedom” with coworking. But there’s a catch: less predictability. That difference in perspective is why many people are keen on the traditional office.

If you like having a clear, specific roadmap for the day and values routine, look to a traditional office. A structured workplace also gives you access to peers and amenities in ways remote working can’t offer. For many, choosing a traditional office is a prime example of the adage, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

Here’s why traditional offices appeal to some and why others choose to embrace coworking spaces:

Benefits of the Traditional Office

  • Familiar working structure and expectations
  • Direct, in-person access to peers and managers
  • Inclusive amenities, including parking, IT help, etc.
  • Comfort from a routine, including commute
  • Feeling of inclusion and not “missing out” on workplace happenings

Cons of the Traditional Office

  • More rigid oversight and management
  • Susceptible to monotony or “brain drain” from the same routine
  • Much higher leasing and facilities upkeep costs
  • Can be harder to adapt to changes in real-time
  • Feeling of isolation that comes with a 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. schedule

New Normal in Workplace: It’s up to you

Given the choice between a coworking space and a traditional office environment, neither is the “right” option. The best choice depends on you and your working style.

Coworking spaces are likely appealing if you’re a driven, independent worker with excellent time management and a mastery of digital communication. If you like structure and order and feel more confident when collaborating with your peers face-to-face, a traditional office may better suit you. If you’re somewhere in between, take the opportunity to work fluidly between the two.

The great thing about the workplace is that the new normal is up to you and what working environment suits you best.