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    Facilities management positions must keep up with changing environments

    Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers


    Business environments have been changing throughout the last decade as mobile technology proliferated and employees' roles were no longer tethered to stationary computers at desks. Mobile phones and laptops allowed workers to stay connected whether they were away for work, taking vacations or staying home due to illness. At the same time, internet connectivity advanced and companies have grown accustomed to having access to critical information in real time.

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    Facilities managers haven't been excluded from these changes. In fact, they are at the helm of the evolving work environment. These individuals come from a variety of backgrounds, but regardless of their experiences they are all responsible for keeping track of business assets, records, real estate, mail distribution, maintenance requests and move changes.

    As a result of the fast-paced world we are living in, facilities managers must be able to provide mission critical data about every one of these aspects quickly. This demands the best tools and applicable experience.

    Facilities management roles growing

    Even though facilities managers are aided with new technology and advanced integrated management workplace software, their positions and experience are just as important as ever.

    In fact, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that these roles are expected to grow 15 percent between 2010 and 2020 across industries. The most recent Facilities Snapshot from the International Facility Management Association supported this claim, with 22 percent of surveyed companies saying they anticipate bringing on additional facilities professionals in the next six months. Much of this is owed to expansion in the healthcare, education and insurance sectors.

    The study also found that most companies plan to keep their facilities management services in-house. Outsourcing has gained traction in banking and government environments, but it is not as common in other industries.

    Wanted: More education and technical skills

    Although facilities management is often a position people fall into, there is a growing demand for professionals who have solid backgrounds in the field, according to BUILDINGS Magazine.

    "Although there now are several higher education programs in facility management, I think the majority of people still enter the field from various levels and with various backgrounds," Kathy Roper, associate professor and chair of integrated facility management at Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Building Construction told the source.

    "Interestingly, there are a number of people who have expertise in technical, management or financial areas and have successfully applied those specialties to FM. Going forward, I think the number of FM degrees will expand," Roper added. "More and more, there will be a common entry point into FM after obtaining either a degree or after a series of courses (a certificate) in specific areas of FM."

    As facility managers anticipate additional staffing, they are starting to look for prospects who can help them improve performances and efficiency, the Facilities Snapshot report found. That means seeking out candidates with the needed technical skills and education.

    Old and new schools must join forces

    However, that doesn't mean the skills and expertise of traditional FMs, who transitioned into the role from other departments, will be eclipsed by new professionals with degrees and certifications, BUILDINGS reports. Most existing FMs took a different entry point, from performing technical work in physical plants or boiler rooms to management roles on construction projects.

    Through these alternative positions, they were able to gain additional knowledge about how all of the moving parts fit together to make a facility run like a well-oiled machine. To keep up with today's changing business environment, facilities management departments need to combine the best of both worlds - using first-hand experience and emerging best practices.

    Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers

    Tiffany covers leadership and marketing topics and enjoys learning about how technology shapes our industry. Before iOFFICE, she worked in local news but don't hold that against her.

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