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Facilities Management Job Titles You Need to Know

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet 

The English language is full of words that mean the same thing. Twelve is a dozen. A groundhog is a woodchuck. If you’re right, you’re also correct. The list goes on. And while we’re familiar with most colloquialisms, it can be confusing and frustrating to run into ones that aren’t familiar — like any of the many facilities management job titles. 

If you’re browsing help wanted ads or brushing up on facilities management terms, you’re liable to run into dozens of unique monikers for facility manager. Some don’t even sound like they’d be in the same industry, let alone a stand-in name for the title! 

Let’s examine the many job titles that pass for a facility management position and learn why they’re often presented differently. 

Manager and coordinator titles 

Most often, facility oversight is seen one of two ways: as a managerial position or through the eyes of a coordinator. Both are fair assessments. Facilities managers are indeed managers, and their role in keeping facilities humming definitely falls under the realm of coordination. As a result, a facilities manager job description will likely involve the words “manager” or “coordinator.” 

Several other qualifiers mark facility management positions. Words like specialist, planner, lead, and administrator tend to signify their broad oversight. How they’re used depends on how the hiring company sees the role of their facilities manager. Are they more of a specialist doing things nobody else can? Or are they a leader who delegates facilities tasks to others? The answer often dictates the job title. Here are some of the most common synonyms for facilities manager: 

  • Facilities Administrator 
  • Facilities Helpdesk Lead 
  • Facilities Supervisor 
  • Facilities System Specialist Facility Coordinator 
  • Global Corporate Properties
  • Coordinator 
  • Global Workplace Manager 
  • Manager of Real Estate 
  • Move Coordinator 
  • Occupancy and Space Planner 
  • Office Services Manager 
  • Space and Facility Management Specialist 
  • Space Management Specialist 
  • Space Planner 
  • Space Planning Manager 
  • Workplace Services Manager 
  • Workspace Manager 

Notice the common theme — they’re all qualified by space, workplace, facilities, and real estate. Ultimately, a facility manager’s role is defined by what workplace aspects they oversee. 

Strategist titles 

Is a facility manager a strategist? The abundance of strategy-focused job titles suggests so. It’s not a stretch to see facilities management as a strategic position. A lot goes into managing space, people, and technology — and bringing them together in harmony certainly takes strategy. What’s truly interesting is the diverse range of strategic concepts in facility manager job postings: 

  • Facilities Strategic Planner 
  • Facilities Strategist 
  • Real Estate Strategic Manager 
  • Space Planning and Logistics Leader 
  • Strategic Site Planner 
  • Workplace Strategist 

Strategic facilities management is less a job title and more an approach, which is why it often needs clarification within the industry. Strategy is key in bringing facilities together, so many companies proactively seek strategic individuals by putting this qualifier in the job title. Not only does it help to attract suitable candidates, it gets them thinking about strategy right away.

Analyst titles 

As digitization transforms the workplace, facilities management is impacted more by Big Data. Big Data can generate numerous opportunities in terms of complete energy solutions, business value, and optimum customer service satisfaction in any facility. So, individuals interested in a facilities management career path need to get familiar with collecting and processing data. And to that end, they become an analyst of sorts. Hence, the influx of analyst-focused job titles within the facilities management field: 

  • Facilities Planning Analyst 
  • Facilities Program Analyst 
  • Facility Maintenance Analyst 
  • Real Estate Analyst
     

Like the “strategic” segment of job titles, adding “analyst” to the facilities manager job title presents the job as what’s expected. Anyone applying for this position should be comfortable with data and knowledgeable in how to put it to work. The demands of a traditional facilities position still exist, but they’re expected to be data-driven. After all, what’s an analyst without data? What are facilities without insights to shape them?

Different names for the same thing 

Still confused? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Thankfully, “facilities manager” is the operative title in most job postings and professional circles. If you ask questions like “What certifications does a facility manager need?” or “How much does a facility manager make?” you’ll get the information you need. You’re only likely to encounter a lesser-known title if you’re looking into a specialized field. 

And while you’ll probably not run into most of these titles, it still helps to know them. You might even learn a thing or two in understanding the reasoning behind them. 

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What is BIM in Facilities Management?

Building information modeling (BIM) has long been the digital cornerstone of the design, planning, and construction phases. With BIM in facility management, you can leverage existing data to streamline operations and maintenance. 

Watch How To Leverage BIM for Facilities Management 

Long gone are the days of simple brick and mortar buildings. Modern facilities are at the cutting edge of architecture, civil engineering, and material science. And we use sophisticated technologies to design, plan, construct, operate, and maintain them. Building information modeling (BIM) supports collaboration and streamlines workflows at every stage of the facility life cycle, allowing teams to centralize, share, and leverage data.      

What is BIM and what can it tell us? 

Buildings involve large investments of time and money, so they require many different teams of professionals, including architects, engineers, real estate developers, contractors, and manufacturers. Because there are so many people involved, the problem has always been coordination. For example, when the architects remove an interior wall from the plans, how do they ensure the engineers check and sign off on the changes? BIM solves the problem of siloed data by establishing a shared central source of truth about a building and its systems – a common data 

 environment (CDE) – that every team can access and update. 

A BIM model can contain many types of data, including: 

  • Material 
  • Geospatial 
  • Logistical 
  • Financial 
  • Temporal
      

BIM is more than just a repository for information, however. It is a process for collaboration. It is both what the teams share and also how they share it. 

The future of BIM is bright. As machine learning folds into BIM software, computers are able to tell us more about our buildings than we could ever hope to learn looking at schematics and blueprints. It’s why BIM is now a mandatory requirement on UK public sector projects and will be mandatory for all German transportation projects by the end of this year. 

What does this all mean for facility managers? 

 BIM as a function of facility management 

Many think of BIM as only a part of the first stages of the facility life cycle. But because so much of your total cost of ownership (TCO) is in operations and maintenance, it makes good sense to leverage as much of your existing data as possible for as long as possible. 

You can use BIM to find the answers to important questions, including: 

  • How much does an asset cost you to run within the framework of facility maintenance? 
  • What is the service record for Y this year?  
  • If you make an upgrade to Z, what will the ramifications be to peripheral systems? 

BIM lets you examine a true-to-life model of facilities and parse information on an as-needed basis. It’s one thing to look at a balance sheet and see costs and figures associated with facilities—it’s another to look at a building model and see where those costs come from and how you can adjust to shrink them. 

Facility managers have embraced BIM. It provides insights into vital systems and enables you to model the effects and changes affiliated with upkeep, repair, or improvement. It shows you what’s happening now and how various changes will affect future outcomes. Finally, it’s a system of record that integrates with space management software to drive data-backed solutions. All that means it’s a powerful tool for facility managers at every level of decision-making. 

How does BIM benefit facility managers? 

Researchers have spent decades developing BIM to aid building managers as they seek to reduce costs, improve building return on investment, streamline operations, improve employee engagement, and prevent problems early, before they require expensive fixes. 

BIM benefits facility managers on a day-to-day basis by: 

  • Generating cost savings in facilities upkeep, maintenance, and improvements 
  • Improving project efficiency and expedites delivery time for results 
  • Reducing safety risks and clashes, which lowers passive change orders 
  • Delivering greater predictability for facility maintenance and upkeep 
  • Improving the visibility and oversight of facilities managers in everyday upkeep 
  • Providing a system of record and visibility for vital systems within the building 
  • Integrating with facility management software and systems to automate processes 

 

BIM helps you maintain existing elements. First, it gives you a complete list of all your assets and equipment. Because it contains records of everything that was added during the planning and construction phases, you know what you have, including critical information like make, model, and manufacturer.  

Not only do you know what you have, you also know where you have. Thanks to BIM, once a maintenance manager and their team of techs have access to accurate site maps and floorplans, they can quickly find the assets and equipment they need to maintain or repair. When they arrive, they know everything they need to know about the asset, from manufacturer to specifications.  

But it also helps with renovations, refurbishments, and expansions. When you can tell contractors the locations of all the plumbing, wiring, and air vents inside the walls, they can more efficiently plan their projects while avoiding safety risks. In fact, BIM facilitates total management of a building across diverse teams. Anyone can glean robust information from the powerful data of a digitized building and its systems to provide better, more efficient, targeted results. 

BIM matters in the future of smart workplaces 

With the introduction of smart buildings packed with sensors, BIM is set to become even more important. Every Internet of Things (IoT) sensor provides contextual data points that factor into the ecosystem of a building. For example, energy use, occupancy, and temperature. BIM will be able to replicate a real-time dynamic picture of a building, from the infrastructure down to the people within it. And, with each new data stream aggregated into the greater BIM schema, facility managers will have that much more information to work with as they strive to create the best possible management approach.  

As many in the working world move to the hybrid model, these insights will become increasingly important for facility managers, as they need the right data to provide the best working environment while controlling costs. Instead of running the AC at the same setting every day, they can adjust to meet predicted occupancy levels. The same goes for everything from which lights to turn on to how many coffee pods to stock in the breakrooms. Facility managers can also schedule maintenance, repairs, and renovations on days they know the building doesn’t see many visitors. 

 

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Property Manager vs. Facility Manager: What’s the Difference?

Although the titles might sound similar, there are important differences between a property manager and a facility manager, including scopes of duties, professional qualifications, and career paths. By understanding the roles and responsibilities, you can better keep the workplace and facilities running smoothly. 

Step one is looking at the fundamental difference between property management and facility management. The first has a focus on the building, while the second is all about the people and processes inside. 

Property manager job description 

Property managers work for the property owner or group of investors, and they are responsible for the building. Common duties can include: 

  • Finding and qualifying tenants 
  • Arranging leases 
  • Collecting rents 
  • Overseeing renovations and expansions 

A skilled professional excels at managing projects, acting as a liaison, and keeping the peace. For example, if the building owner decides to renovate, remodel, or expand, the property manager oversees the project. Often, that involves coordinating with tenants and trades, so everyone can work without getting in one another’s way. 

A property manager oversees projects as well as many ongoing, day-to-day operations, including: 

  • Maintenance 
  • Janitorial 
  • Landscaping 

Each likely has its own separate team and managers, but the property manager is above all of them in the organizational chart. They’re the ones who need to make sure all the other teams are on top of their tasks. 

Facility manager job description 

A facility manager puts the people and processes of the business first. Facilities managers are concerned with maximizing space and coordinating operations to make the most efficient use of office space. This includes arranging desks, coordinating moves, and overseeing office programs. Unlike a property manager, a facility manager doesn’t work for a building owner. They work for a business owner, helping them get the most from their investments in people and processes. It can be as large and involved as moving into or out of a new office space to as small and easy as deciding to switch from plastic to paper straws in the breakroom. 

Here again, facility managers are an intermediary with a clearly defined role. They help oversee the needs of workers, while coordinating operations for upper management. For example, if management wants to hire more workers without expanding square footage, facility managers explore desk booking and desk neighborhood options to maximize space. 

Facility managers are the backbone of office operations. Their goal is to create an office space that’s comfortable, organized, and optimized for productivity. With the rise of the hybrid office, facility managers now focus on finding ways to encourage collaboration, support employees’ different ways of working, and help everyone maximize their time in the office. 

Property and facility manager responsibilities 

To paint a clearer picture of the difference between property management and facility management, here are a few simple scenarios and who would deal with them: 

  • Scenario 1: A window on the second floor is cracked. This is a building issue, which means a property manager is responsible for ensuring the window is replaced. They’ll take bids from contractors and handle the replacement timeline. They might also reach out to the affected tenants to try and coordinate the best time for the trades to come in and replace the window, which isn’t always ASAP. 
  • Scenario 2: Your business is moving to a new floor. This situation deals with people and assets, making it a facility manager’s job. They’ll coordinate and oversee the move, ensure everyone’s properly situated. But remember, this only covers the move itself. Earlier, when your business is looking at different spaces and leasing options, you’re dealing with property managers.  
  • Scenario 3: Someone needs a place to work for the day. This is a job for the facility manager, who is in charge of hotel desks and unoccupied spaces as part of the day-to-day operations of the business. But if it turns out the nearby AC or the electrical socket under the booked desk isn’t working, those are issues for the property manager. If the employee forgot to bring their laptop cable, it’s back to being the jb of the facility manager to find a spare.   
  • Scenario 4: There aren’t enough parking spaces. This one is for the property manager. They dictate where people can park and secure additional space — whether that means enlarging the lot or coordinating a new parking system. As part of the project, the property manager will act as a liaison between the building owner, investors, or landlord and the companies in the building. It could be as simple as explaining the project to as involved as gaining buy-in.  
  • Scenario 5: New employees are starting Monday. Here again, this one is for the facility manager. Even with a hybrid office, more employees can mean a need for everything from additional chairs in the boardrooms to extra coffee mugs in the breakrooms, which are all the responsibilities of the facility manager. Because they’re also in charge of office supplies, for example printer ink and paperclips, they might want to top up the in-office stock.   

There are few areas where overlap occurs, but where it does, there’s usually a clear understanding of roles. For example, if a light is burnt out in the breakroom, a facility manager can have maintenance take care of it. However, if that light keeps going out because of a short circuit, they’ll refer the issue to the property manager. 

The line often comes down to a question of oversight. Facility managers handle problems affecting workers and operations.  

Read more on how to select the right facility management software 

Property managers are there to ensure the building is safe, accommodating, and functional. 

Where the confusion comes in 

One of the biggest issues with property managers vs. facility managers is how people refer to them. Not everyone realizes there’s a distinction between the two, so they use the terms “property” and “facility” interchangeably. Technically, the facilities are part of the property, but for the sake of how they’re managed, it’s two different objectives that require two different positions. 

So, now that you know the differences between the two, how do you decide which one to contact? When there’s a problem, it’s best to escalate it to someone capable of handling it. Just like an accountant will bring the issue to the finance manager, office workers need to bring their issues to the attention of the person equipped to address them.  

The easiest way to keep things clear? For building issues, it’s the property manager, and for issues in the workplace, it’s the facility manager. 

 

Learn more about facility management software on our pricing page.

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Work Experience Gleaned from an Agile Environment

When you vet résumés for potential job candidates, the skills section can be telling. Your company might look for industry-specific skills or mentions of commonly used software or equipment. But what about experience working in an agile environment? Is that a skill you’re looking for? Is it even worth mentioning on a résumé? 

In the era of agile work, experience in free-assign and flexible workplaces is important. Like any other trait in the skills section of a résumé, it speaks to that person’s ability to thrive when put in certain situations. Workplaces play a large role in how people do the job they’re hired for. Just because they have the qualifications doesn’t mean they’re equipped to do a good job in an environment they’re unfamiliar with. Conversely, someone who knows what it’s like working in an agile environment might not have any trouble getting up to speed. 

Not only is experience with agile working a skill, but it’s worth looking for on incoming résumés. The newest addition to your team is likely someone familiar with the work styles and culture already present in your agile environment. 

Why is prior experience important? 

Consider someone who’s only ever worked in a traditional office. They have their own desk and personal private space with a phone extension and computer. Now, imagine taking these things away from that person and telling them to do the same job they’ve always done, only in an agile environment. It’s apples vs. oranges, Mac vs. PC. Say goodbye to what they know. 

For most people, adapting to a new workspace is stressful enough. Change the entire dynamic of a workplace, and your new hire may feel even more out of their element. This isn’t to say they can’t learn to embrace agile working—they’re just at a disadvantage.

What does agile workplace experience say about someone? 

Experience working within an agile workspace translates into many other traits. Think about what an agile workplace represents, then track these traits back into skills: 

  • Workplace agility teaches a person to adapt quickly to new situations. 
  • Using different types of workplaces imbues workers with strategic understanding. 
  • Collaborating in agile environments develops strong communication skills. 
  • Self-managing in free-assign workplaces teaches accountability. 
  • Familiarity with agile workplace systems promotes critical thinking.
     

All these traits are secondary to working in an agile work environment but have real ramifications when developing productive habits. Agile work experience shows a person’s ability to function at a high level in an ever-changing environment. This type of person is an asset to the company and someone who can continue to adapt to the demands of a growing, changing business. 

If it’s not on the résumé, ask about it

Not every employee will think to put “experience working in an agile environment” in the skills section of their résumé. Employers shouldn’t overlook it during interviews and applicant surveys. Like any other skill a candidate brings to the table, agile work experience is an asset.

If your company’s hiring process involves a questionnaire, focus one or two questions on workplace experience or willingness to adapt to an agile workplace. For in-person interviews, ask pointed questions about it. “How do you feel about working in an environment that changes every day?” or “How do you adapt to environments that force constant change?” Make it clear that you operate an agile workplace and discuss what it means for your company. 

Workspace conversations are much more productive in the interview phase than after a hire. The last thing you want to do is hire the perfect candidate only to find they’re incompatible with the workplace culture of an agile environment. 

Make the transition into agile work simple

Every agile workplace has its own degree of dynamism. A workplace with 10 employees has a very different feel than one with 100. Likewise, adapting to different types of breakout spaces, a new floor plan and different workplace protocols is all part of easing into a new environment. 

Whether they have agile work experience or not, take time to ease a new hire into your workplace. Immersion time is often lower for workers familiar with agile workspaces, but a well-run workplace will foster inclusion for anyone, experienced or not. The smoother you make the transition, the easier it is for your new hire to integrate. 

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Keep reading: Understanding Agile Workplace Pros and Cons. 

 

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What Mobile Apps Help Increase Productivity?

Employee mobile apps improve productivity, real-time collaboration, and team communication. Explore the top apps at the cutting edge of worktech. 

Worktech is everywhere, from the traditional office to the remote home setup. And with all these new mobile work apps, the promise of productivity has never been more significant. But with so many options – covering everything from real-time mind mapping to advanced project management to automatic time tracking — you must choose carefully. A lousy app eats time and kills creativity, leaving you wishing for the days of landline telephone calls and paperwork on actual paper.  

So, regarding communication, collaboration, and hitting deadlines, what are some of the best mobile productivity apps?  

Slack

Slack is so popular the workplace messaging platform is already a verb, with people asking you to “slack them.” And with good reason. It’s quicker than email, more organized than texting, and offers more integrations than many other messaging platforms, helping you maximize productivity 

Slack’s interface has a user-friendly message board feel, making it easy to learn and use for anyone with any Internet experience. There’s real power in all those features that help you control and follow conversations. You can set up channels for specific topics, tag the people you want to include, and then break off into separate threads. Once the time for talking is over, you can share files, tag collaborators, assign tasks, and create checklists, all within a specific channel.   

Google Docs

The problem with old-fashioned long-distance collaboration was how it was so sequential. You draft a report and send it to a colleague as an email attachment. They look it over, add some suggestions, and email it back. Whenever someone else is working on the file, you’re not, creating much downtime between drafts. And that’s when the process works perfectly. There’s always the chance you click the wrong email attachment and work on the wrong version.      

Google Docs removes all those limitations by hosting one file that everyone can access simultaneously. Now the whole team can make changes and add comments. Best of all, there’s only one current version of the document, so you don’t have to worry about people wasting time checking and fixing old work.  

And because it’s Google, it easily integrates with all the other apps in the suite, like Google Drive and Google Calendar.  

Hypercontext

Ever end a meeting and think to yourself, “Yup. That should have been an email”?  

Hypercontext is how you can ensure this never happens again by combining setting up meetings and setting goals into one workflow. Now your team can work together to develop and fine-tune meeting agendas for one-on-ones, team, and even cross-department meetings. Head into every meeting knowing what you need to cover and why. With one spot dedicated to documenting decisions and tracking goals, you get the most out of all that face time, and that’s critical these days with the rise of the hybrid office.  

When you have people commuting to the office specifically for in-person meetings, you need meetings that work. People used to be unhappy just walking back to their desks from the boardroom after an unproductive meeting. When you ask people to come back into the office a couple of days a week, you need to deliver meetings that work for everyone.  

Evernote

Ever notice how back in school the most successful students tended to have the best notes?  

It’s the same now that you’re in the workplace. Solid note-taking skills help you with everything from tracking decisions in a meeting to brainstorming ideas for a new project.    

The good news is that thanks to Evernote, you don’t have to rely on spiral notebooks, pens, and highlighters. Now you can capture text, photos, files, and even to-do lists. Remember those old plastic tabs where you had to scribble subjects on little scraps of paper before carefully sliding them into place? With a built-in search function and tags, Evernote makes it easy to find the right notes immediately. And the sync function makes all your notes accessible from all your devices.  

IFTTT (If This Then That) 

And then there’s IFTTT, the one that lets you get more out of all the other productivity apps by helping you automate actions between apps so that something happening in one carries over to another. The idea is to make everything play nice together, leveraging data from one source into usable information somewhere else.  

So, if Google says it will be hot tomorrow, you now get a reminder on your calendar app to bring sunscreen. Or, every time NASA publishes a new pic, you can have it automatically added as your phone wallpaper. Workwise, you can control pics for cross-posting on social channels and when and where files get saved.     

But no matter how good your apps are, they won’t help boost productivity if you’re constantly falling off track. What you need are apps that keep you focused and in the zone.  

Forest

Forest answers the new worktech version of that age-old question “If a project fails in the forest, but no one is there to work on it, does it even make a sound?”  

If you’re too distracted to work on projects, they’re not going to get done. Forest helps you resist the temptation of everything else on the Internet with three simple steps. When you want to focus, you plant a virtual seed. If you stay on task, that tiny seed grows into a tree, and that tree grows taller. As soon as you fall off task and quit the app, your tree dies. Over time, you can collect your trees into a forest, a little but powerful virtual living monument to your hard work.   

The company has even partnered with Trees for the Future to help plant real trees.

Brain.fm

Sure, you might have your favorite Spotify playlist for when you need to buckle down and really work, but just how scientific is it? What’s the research-backed proof that Parton’s “9 to 5” helps you work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.? When you need to take five minutes to unwind after a meeting, does rainy day coffee shop jazz make the most sense, or something more upbeat like Norwegian metal?  

With Brain.fm, you get music specifically created to help you focus, meditate, and nap (not all at the same time, of course) in just 10 to 15 minutes. The company claims it “holds patents on technology to elicit strong neural phase locking — allowing populations of neurons to engage in various kinds of coordinated activity.” That means all you need to do is pick the headspace you want, and the app delivers the perfect soundtrack to get you there. 

Zendesk

Every company has defined processes and practices. Unfortunately, not all have Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) documentation. Zendesk is a hub for your company’s Q&A needs and SOP documents. If anyone has a question, you can point them to Zendesk, where the answer has already been archived. And, if it’s a brand-new query, you can easily create an entry for future reference. 

Zendesk has the added bonus of being both an internal and customer-facing piece of software. Use it as a workplace app for your day-to-day operations or create a tool your customers can reference to streamline customer service. 

CamCard

Business cards are still the currency of the working world. If you’re in sales or networking, your old-school rolodex is likely chocked-full of cards. CamCard helps you digitize cards to ensure they’re always available to you in the cloud. Just snap a picture of the card and the software pulls out all of the details, creating a virtual rolodex for you to comb through, complete with pictures of the physical cards. 

CamCard takes the stress out of trying to remember contacts and is excellent for workers on the go who need to tap into their network at any time. The app even allows you to make phone calls, send emails or access your contact’s social media with a tap of the finger. 

Expensify

Expense situations always arise and are usually accompanied by a tedious documentation process. Expensify is a must-have mobile employee app for tracking and cataloging expenses in real time. 

When a purchase is made, an employee enters the nature of the purchase, the amount, and any other pertinent information. Then, they can take a picture of the receipt with their smartphone. Expenses can then be exported individually or in bulk for processing and reimbursement. This app reduces the headaches and pitfalls of expense reporting and minimizes processing time for quicker reimbursement. 

Employee Mobile Apps to Increase Productivity 

With smart technology always in our pockets, workplace apps are now more than ever integrated into everyday business operations. The right app in the right hands can drastically improve your ability to get work done quickly and correctly. Team members can stay focused and complete tasks with better time management.  

Whether it’s workplace communication or expense reporting, ultimately, everyone benefits. Explore the above app options to see how they can improve your workplace operations and increase employee productivity. 

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Hoteling in the Workplace

Definition of hoteling  

When traveling far from home, you visit a hotel and need a place to rest and recuperate. You might stay a few days, but eventually, you’ll be on your way. The concept of a hotel desk is much the same—everything you need to work when you don’t have a workplace to call “home.” But there are some significant differences.  

What is hoteling in the workplace and how is it different from hot desking? 

It’s essential to understand hoteling as a practice in the modern workplace. Having a grip on the framework of revolving desk reservations will help better integrate this concept into the workplace. With the right processes, it’s easy to maximize the convenience of hoteling while downplaying the pitfalls of non-traditional desking arrangements. 

Hoteling vs. hot desking 

There’s a lot of confusion between workplace hoteling and hot desking. The terms are often incorrectly used interchangeably. The difference comes down to the level of control and organization. 

Hoteling involves pre-booking and checking into a concierge to access a space, much like at an actual hotel. Even in a room full of empty desks and unoccupied workstations, a person has to check in with central booking to access their spot. It may be a person, or it could be self-directed software. What matters is that the process is the same for everyone, and there’s a standardized record of the desk assignment. 

Hot desking is more free-wheeling. It’s still based on an unassigned desk concept, but the execution is first-come, first-served. If any employee sees an open space, they can claim it and get to business — no reservation is required. Some hot desking setups may still require a check-in, but there’s no need for reservations. Check-in is merely a form of capacity control. 

Though similar in concept, hoteling and hot desking diverge in how workers access space. Workplaces seeking more control over space utilization will opt for hoteling; casual environments without capacity concerns tend to embrace hot desking. 

Does hoteling work? 

The benefits of office hoteling or hoteling desks come from its marriage of order and freedom. Just as you can pick the room right at the hotel you want over defined dates, hotel desking works the same way. There’s freedom of choice dictated by standardization. An example: 

Jim wants a workspace with a view on Friday. There are two coworking spaces within walking distance from his apartment, both with great views. Jim checks Friday availability for both and sees that Workspace A is booked, while Workspace B has an open workstation from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. He books Workspace B, arrives on time, and enjoys his workspace. 

In this simple scenario, there’s no frantic search for a space with a view or finding out last-minute spaces aren’t available. Jim knows exactly what he’s getting and for how long. He’s paid upfront. All he needs to do is check in to his workspace and get to work. The process is straightforward and chaos-free. 

Standardizing the hoteling process  

Desk hoteling isn’t without its drawbacks. Thankfully, they’re easily handled if the process is well-standardized. Workplace hoteling software resolves many of the common gaps. 

  • Workers submit their reservation requests to the system, which checks desk availability 
  • A reservation is confirmed, with details automatically emailed to the worker 
  • The system is updated with the new occupancy information 
  • A reminder is emailed to the worker before their visit, including pertinent information 
  • The worker checks in at their scheduled time and enjoys their reserved desk space 

This bare-bones framework becomes more complicated depending on the situation. Taking payment, providing IT access, processing cancellations, and addressing special requests all have a place in the standard hoteling process. Therefore, building them on this simple, central framework is imperative. 

Hoteling by scale for success 

The great thing about hoteling is that it works at any scale. You’re liable to find a 10-room hotel in the same city as a 150-room hotel. No matter where you stay or for how long, the process is the same: 1) Reservation; 2) Confirmation; 3) Check-in; and 4) Check-out. 

The same goes for hotel desks. It doesn’t matter if there are ten desks or 150 workspaces; the hoteling process is scalable. What matters is that the process for accessing these desks remains the same for all workers in all situations. So whether they’re reserving a 10-person conference room or a single desk for half a day, the process should be familiar, simple, and orderly. It’s the only way to make hoteling work well. 

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Four Main Functions of FM

The broad scope of facilities management makes it a hard position to define. Where a Sales Manager is directly responsible for managing the performance of salespeople, the functions of facilities management go far beyond “managing facilities.” As a result, it’s often difficult for companies to maximize the advantages of a good facility manager.

But what is the importance of facilities management? To truly understand what a facility manager does, what they’re responsible for, and what effect they have on a company, it’s best to break down their scope of work. That means taking a closer look at the four main pillars of facilities management: People, processes, the building, and technology.

Supporting people

The foremost objective of a facility manager is creating an accommodating work environment for employees. This serves many broader goals, including attracting and retaining top talent, improving efficiency and productivity, and creating a positive workplace culture. Facility managers provide employee support in many ways, including:

  • Coordinating desking arrangements
  • Managing employee directories
  • Facilitating moves and space utilization
  • Handling emergency planning

Facility managers serve as a bridge between the workplace and the employees working within it. Whenever issues of accommodation, safety, or comfort arise, it’s up to the facility manager to solve them.

This applies upward, as well. Facility managers are responsible for providing vital planning data to the C-suite and determining the long-term approach to workplace optimization. Their everyday interaction with the workplace sheds light on true costs and competitive advantages at the employee level.

In addition to the mentioned responsibilities, facility managers play a crucial role in managing and maintaining the physical infrastructure of a company. This includes overseeing the upkeep and maintenance of the building, ensuring that it meets safety and regulatory standards. They collaborate with various departments, such as maintenance, security, and janitorial services, to ensure that the facility is clean, secure, and well-functioning.

Another important aspect of a facility manager’s role is managing the budget and resources allocated to facility operations. They analyze and control costs related to building maintenance, repairs, renovations, and utilities to ensure optimal resource allocation. By effectively managing the budget, facility managers contribute to cost savings and financial efficiency for the organization.

Furthermore, facility managers are responsible for implementing sustainability initiatives within the workplace. They promote environmentally friendly practices, such as energy conservation, waste reduction, and the use of eco-friendly materials. By incorporating sustainable strategies, facility managers contribute to reducing the company’s environmental footprint and promoting corporate social responsibility.

Facility managers are often involved in long-term strategic planning for facility development and expansion. They collaborate with stakeholders to assess the organization’s future needs, evaluate potential facility options, and provide insights on the feasibility and impact of different decisions. This involves analyzing space requirements, conducting feasibility studies, and making recommendations for facility improvements or expansions.

Facility managers are the point of contact for addressing employee concerns and ensuring a safe work environment. They handle issues related to building security, fire safety, emergency preparedness, and accessibility compliance. By prioritizing employee safety and comfort, facility managers foster a positive workplace culture and contribute to employee satisfaction and well-being. They are responsible for creating an accommodating work environment, managing the physical infrastructure, overseeing budget and resources, implementing sustainability initiatives, participating in strategic planning, and ensuring employee safety and well-being. Their multifaceted role is essential in supporting the overall success of an organization and maintaining a productive and enjoyable workplace for employees.

Establishing processes

What are the functions of facilities management without a process to govern them? Establishing processes brings order to the workplace. Order creates a system of expectations, which breeds organization that positively impacts the way people utilize the workplace. The workplace runs on a multitude of processes, including:

  • Submitting a work order request
  • Reserving space within the facility
  • Checking in guests and visitors
  • Emergency action planning

Facility managers serve the dual role of identifying governance areas and adapting processes to cover them. Whenever a new situation arises, it’s up to the facility manager to create order from chaos and building a repeatable framework for handling that scenario again in the future.

Developing processes is also where the scope of facility management expands its reach. New processes may involve different departments, employees, assets, fixtures, and spaces—all of which connect the many aspects of the business.

Facilities upkeep and improvement

As the name implies, facility management is largely rooted in facilities upkeep and improvement of the physical building. It’s the most common answer when asked, “What does facility management include?

But this is also the most robust scope of expectations for facility managers. It involves not only tending the building, but cultivating partnerships, future planning, and asset management. Some examples of this broad range of responsibilities include:

  • Finding and maintaining vendor contracts
  • Repair, maintenance, and building improvement
  • Workplace cleaning and décor
  • On- and off-site property management

If it has to do with the physical building, it falls within the facilities manager’s realm. Facilities are the second largest expense behind the workforce—it’s the job of a facility manager to turn the workplace into a competitive advantage, instead of a cost center. It’s about ensuring facilities meet the needs of the people using them.

Technology integration

More important than ever is the need for facilities managers to understand and use technology. Workplace management systems aggregate data, which drives crucial decisions about how to run the business and shape the workplace. Identifying and implementing the right technology is a chief responsibility of facility managers.

Integrating physical technology typically falls on the IT department. However, facilities managers are the first and last word on how they’re selected, used, and leveraged. Some examples of what this looks like in a modern setting include:

  • Researching IoT devices based on data collection needs
  • Integrating IoT devices into everyday facilities processes
  • Determining the cost, ROI, and advantage of smart technologies
  • Using aggregated data to better understand the workplace

Using an Integrated Workplace Management System (read more on what is IWMS software), facility managers can collect and analyze data from networked technologies to get insights about the workplace. This fuels better decision-making on how to optimize the work environment for the people using it.

It’s important to note that not all office tech relies on data collection. Access control systems support safety, while automation tech streamlines processes. And while there’s a data component to any networked device or software, the true benefit of most tech is in its function. It’s up to facility managers to understand and leverage this function for optimal ROI.

Putting it all together for facilities management

Facility managers support workers directly and indirectly. They establish processes for order and organization. They’re charged with upkeep and improvement of the facilities themselves. They create complex integrations to leverage data for success.

When you put these four functions together, they paint a picture of what facility managers really do. Broadly speaking, their focus is on optimizing the workplace to support every aspect of the business it touches. But on a deeper level, it’s about giving the company a steady foundation for success.

Keep reading: Selecting the best facility management software.

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Soft Services in FM

Within facilities management, there are hard and soft services. Most FMs are familiar with hard services—fixed parts of facilities operation you can’t change. But what are types of facilities services in facility management?

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Soft services comprise actions and services you can change. They’re often non-essential and come with a wide degree of variability in how they’re managed. But the most important part of soft services is how they’re used and who they benefit. When executed correctly, soft services elevate the workplace in ways that benefit employees and the work they’re doing.

Soft vs. hard services in facilities management

To understand the unique importance of soft services, we need to better distinguish them. That means asking, “What are soft and hard services in facility management?” Here’s a quick explanation for each, as well as a list of hard and soft services in facilities management.

Hard facilities services

Hard services, on the other hand, are technical and physical services that involve the maintenance, repair, and management of the building’s infrastructure, systems, and equipment. These services often require specialized technical knowledge and expertise. Some common examples of hard services include:

  • Mechanical and Electrical Maintenance: Maintenance, repair, and management of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, electrical systems, plumbing systems, and other mechanical systems.
  • Building Fabric Maintenance: Maintenance and repair of the building’s structural elements, such as walls, floors, roofs, windows, and doors.
  • Fire Safety Systems: Installation, maintenance, and testing of fire alarm systems, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, and other fire safety equipment.
  • Lifts and Elevators: Maintenance and repair of lifts and elevators to ensure their safe and efficient operation.
  • Energy Management: Monitoring and optimization of energy usage, implementing energy-efficient measures, and managing utility services.
  • Building Security Systems: Installation, maintenance, and monitoring of access control systems, CCTV cameras, burglar alarms, and other security systems.
  • Building Automation Systems: Management and maintenance of building automation systems, such as building management systems (BMS), to control and monitor various building functions.

Hard services are crucial for the proper functioning and maintenance of the facility’s infrastructure and systems, while soft services focus on providing a comfortable and conducive environment for the occupants. Effective management of both soft and hard services is essential for overall facilities management.

Hard services are physically integrated into the building. They can’t be removed and are vital to the workplace environment. They directly or indirectly impact every person in the building on some level. Some additional examples include:

  • Heating
  • Lighting/electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Fire safety systems
  • Air conditioning
  • Mechanical

Soft facilities services

Soft Services: Soft services in facilities management refer to the non-technical and non-physical tasks that are focused on creating a safe, clean, and comfortable environment for the occupants of a facility. These services generally involve human interaction and are often outsourced to specialized service providers. Some common examples of soft services include:

  • Cleaning and Janitorial Services: Regular cleaning, waste management, restroom maintenance, and general housekeeping tasks.
  • Security Services: Access control, CCTV monitoring, security personnel, and emergency response to ensure the safety and protection of the facility and its occupants.
  • Reception and Concierge Services: Front desk management, visitor management, mail handling, and other administrative support services.
  • Pest Control: Measures to prevent and control pests, such as insects, rodents, and other unwanted animals, to maintain a hygienic environment.
  • Landscaping and Grounds Maintenance: Maintenance of outdoor spaces, including gardening, lawn care, landscaping, and upkeep of green areas.
  • Catering and Food Services: Provision of food and beverages for cafeterias, canteens, or special events within the facility.
  • Waste Management: Collection, segregation, and disposal of waste in an environmentally responsible manner.
  • Housekeeping Services: Room cleaning, linen management, and other services typically found in hotels, hospitals, and residential facilities.

Soft services aren’t integrated into the building and directly benefit employees who interact with them. They’re not essential—instead, they’re meant to make the workplace more comfortable, enjoyable, or secure. Some additional examples include:

  • Building security
  • Cleaning
  • Landscaping
  • Office decorating
  • Catering
  • Office moves

The difference between hard and soft services is far from subtle. Facility managers need to understand the roles of both in creating an optimal workplace.

Benefits for employees and the business

While considered non-essential, soft services are critical in cultivating a well-run workplace. They directly impact variables like productivity and job satisfaction. It’s important not to see them as perks or superfluous costs, but rather investments in a more productive, functional workplace.

Take landscaping, for example. Landscaping doesn’t directly impact your business’ cash flow or revenue. But it does have value in its effect on employee mood. Giving workers a place to go outside and enjoy their lunch or conversation boosts their spirits when they return to work. Lower stress and positive mood directly contribute to a job well done. That does affect cash flow and revenue.

The same goes for every soft service. The service itself may not directly impact business success, but it will have indirect consequences.

Raising the value of your workplace

What many businesses often realize is that soft services raise the value of their workplace. Not in a fiscal sense, but in a qualitative sense.

Catering lunch every Friday doesn’t increase the value of your physical workspace, but it does boost employee morale. It’s also a great way to attract and retain talent, and supplement your business’ perks. The value added here is cultural. Employees feel appreciated and encouraged to do their best.

Cleaning, decorating, moving, and similar soft services support the core function of the office space: accommodating employees. It’s not just about giving them the tools to work; it’s about ensuring they feel welcome, valued, and empowered.

Good facilities management practices 

Many facility managers are hired to manage hard services—and they do. But a good workplace manager also recognize the value of soft services. Not only will they make the proper investments in these services, they’ll communicate the benefits to get stakeholder buy-in.

The best way to understand which soft services are important is by listening to employee feedback. Understand what employees’ needs and wants are. Develop a mode of feedback such as an informal workplace survey or a suggestion box. Look at the efficacy and urgency of the feedback to understand the best course of action.

Say a chief piece of feedback is “not feeling safe leaving the building after dark.” This clues FMs into the need for on-site security. This soft service not only improves morale, it shows genuine concern for employee wellbeing. Juxtapose this with suggestions like “bringing in a masseuse” to understand what’s vital and what’s a perk.

Support services are essential

What are support services in facilities management? Soft and hard services are part of ensuring your facilities are living up to your expectations and supporting workers on a daily basis. Soft services are the difference between simply having facilities and creating a workplace. The right approach to managing support services is to correlate effort to outcome.

Keep reading: automation and the IoT for facility management.

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What is Hoteling and Should You be Using it?

Non-traditional desking options are on the rise as companies race to maximize workplace potential. Among them is hoteling, a simple concept that’s easy to implement. But hoteling requires a little foresight to maximize its benefits.

Here’s a look at what desk hoteling is, how it maximizes office space potential, and what types of businesses benefit most from it.