By Jeff Revoy
Chief Operations Officer
Why is facilities management important? For the same reasons routine care and maintenance are to a car—to keep everything running safely, frictionless, and efficiently.
Comparing a busy workplace to a complex piece of machinery isn’t an overstatement. There’s a lot going on in a compact space. Everything works together to produce an output—dozens of simple machines doing their part to power a much larger mechanism.
Without routine care, even the simplest machine breaks down. It’s the same in the workplace. The results can range from minor to catastrophic; a spat between employees to a major dip in productivity and revenue. Keeping your workplace machine well-oiled and running right means taking advantage of the benefits in facilities management.
Reducing friction through accommodation
Friction is the biggest enemy of productivity. Just like it causes heat and wear on grinding gears, it can build to a head in your workplace and erupt in confrontation. Lubrication is essential. In a machine, it’s oil; in the workplace, it’s providing the right accommodations.
In many cases, simply providing ample space is enough to mitigate friction. If employees are falling over each other with no room to stretch out or breathe, they’re going to get irritated. Other times, it’s about providing the right space. People get frustrated when they know the expectations, but don’t have the resources to meet them.
In both situations, facility management offers solutions. One of the core tenants of the profession is delegating enough space for the right causes.
Adapting to the changing demands of the environment
Another of the core benefits of facilities management is the ability to adapt. You might switch out the parts of a machine to expand its capabilities. Same goes for your facilities. You’ll eventually need to revamp the workplace to accommodate evolving business operations. Facilities management not only makes adaptation possible, it makes it affordable.
The power of good facilities management is evident in even the simplest examples:
- Improving space utilization through the deployment of a new desking arrangement
- Eliminating unused workspaces to reduce costs
- Monitoring individual workspaces to gauge demand for similar ones
It’s all about understanding how your space is used and what employees expect from it—then adapting. Spatial insights allow adaptation to occur at lower costs, with fewer missteps and setbacks.
Effectively scaling the business
A chief purpose of facilities management is to ensure facilities support the business at every stage of growth. Like an engineer provides crucial support to machinery at every stage of its life, facilities managers tend the needs of the workplace as the business grows around it.
Facilities management provides context and definition to the need for space. Does your business need more space? If so, what type? Does the cost justify the acquisition? If not, how can you maximize what you have? So many considerations go into scaling the workplace to meet the needs of the business. Good facilities management provides the insights for smart decision-making.
Keeping facilities safe and people healthy
If a complex piece of heavy machinery malfunctions, it’s immediately a safety hazard. Proper maintenance and management can prevent unexpected failures, and there are always safety precautions built in. In so many ways, the workplace requires the same. What is facility management without emphasis on emergency preparedness?
Facility management is equal parts proactive and reactive safety planning. Every building needs fire alarms and emergency exits; and when they’re triggered, every employee needs to know the evacuation plan. This falls within the realm of facilities management—as do inclement weather planning, general workplace accessibility standards, air and water quality, and countless other safety mechanisms.
Facility management lays down the infrastructure for safety, both the systems preventing tragedy and the prompt, decisive response to threatening events.
Bringing in outside help
For a machine as complex as the workplace, no single person can do everything. Facility managers are the chief operators, but they deploy a troupe of professionals to help them achieve the all-important goal of ongoing facility upkeep.
Landscapers. HVAC, plumbing, and electrical technicians. Technologists. Caterers. Anyone who has contact with the facilities has to go through the facility manager. Not only does it create a system of authorization for service, it’s also vital in record-keeping. Facility managers help identify and navigate cost centers, negotiate contract terms, and maintain accountability standards across vendors.
Without a centralized person or process for vendor management, a business risks untold sums of wasted costs and expenses. Facility managers are on the front lines of ensuring the workplace benefits from outside experts, whatever the needs of the building or the people within it.
Facilities touch every part of the business
The workplace is central to every aspect of business. Emphasizing facilities management is essential. It’s about enabling employees and giving them the tools to be successful. It ensures scalability and growth opportunities for the business. It protects the business and the people powering it. Without facilities management, there’s too much opportunity for setbacks: disorganization, health and safety hazards, friction, and distraction.
If you think of your business as a machine, pay mind to the maintenance that it needs to keep running. Any mechanic or engineer will tell you the best approach is proactive. A machine stays reliable when it’s properly serviced. Your workplace will stay productive when its facilities are properly managed.