Viewed as a critical component of businesses today, Facilities Management (FM) is defined by EuroFM as the “Integration of processes within an organization to maintain and develop the agreed services which support and improve the effectiveness of its primary activities.” Tasked with integrating people, space, process, and technology to ensure functionality and success of the company they represent, the FM’s role is complex, viewed as a valued asset to any organization’s team of executives. These evolving workspace needs shift seemingly daily, requiring, at the very least, a basic knowledge of every aspect of both their company and the industry it is a part of, as well as the FM profession itself.
Since its introduction in the 1970s, the Facilities Management profession has undergone dramatic changes. Once primarily responsible for ensuring the building itself runs efficiently, today’s facilities manager is responsible for so much more. And as the workplace dynamics and needs evolve, so, too, does the FM’s role. Those who wish to stay relevant in the complex Facilities profession must show their value through their partnership with the executives, developing a spatial strategy, identifying optimal business tools and support systems, developing a productive workplace culture, and identifying ways to reduce operational costs. Companies have realized the value in investing in and supporting their people through innovative solutions such as wide open workspaces, mobile tools, accommodating varying work styles, and providing feasible work-life balance options.
As the Facilities manager responsibilities expand, so, too, have their necessity for broadened areas of expertise. Today’s Facilities leader must commit to enhancing the workplace through data analysis, emergency preparedness, and minimizing office “churn” through increased organizational efficiency and the identification of technological tools that complement the needs of the workforce. Workplace tools such as FM software and mobile apps offer the FM’s workforce increased mobility options, causing many employees to seek out home office options. “Today, nearly 24% of the U.S. working population telecommutes for at least a few hours each week. Seventy-eight percent said they'd forego free meals and 31% would take a salary cut for the privilege of working at home.” This adds an entirely new dimension to the Facility Manager’s role, as they find a balance between offering their workforce mobile workspace solutions, while still encouraging and enhancing collaboration amongst employees.
Historically, facilities managers found themselves in their positions by working their way up through the ranks. As they learned more about the organization, the people they serve, and their company’s specific industry, the individual’s drive and dedication to the mission was growing and expanding with every new bit of knowledge they gleamed. Nowadays, FMs are expected to enter the workforce with significant knowledge of their industry, as well as the industry of the company they work for. This leaves less time for on-the-job learning and results are expected, in short order. Therefore, FMs need to hone their skills before entering the workforce and must maintain the continuing education process to stay relevant and effective. Here are some key areas of job performance, which can regularly be updated or improved to ensure you are keeping at the forefront of your industry.
-Regular collection and analysis of data for every aspect of the company (as well as other companies in the industry) is critical to ensure seamless processes. You must remain a student of your job, always striving to learn more about the company you work for. By researching the data, which regularly impacts your company, you will gain valuable insight into the processes that are working and those that need re-tooling. Equally, keeping a finger on the pulse of your competitors will show you if your situation is unique or shared, and the methods in which others handle their companies can be invaluable for giving industry insight, which can develop into new and creative methods you can use for your own organization.
-Ensure your workforce has all the tools they need to work both in and away from the office, as well as enhancing their collaborative efforts. Communication amongst your team must be fluid and consistent and the technology available should be up to date to ensure the workforce isn’t stymied by outdated systems, hardware or software.
-Consistent and meaningful feedback of your workforce’s output is key to maintaining a high level of productivity, both in quality and quantity. Individual reviews also help to develop stronger interpersonal relationships.
-Dedication and excitement about projects and the job itself help spread a feeling of camaraderie. As you are the leader and must lead my example, make sure your enthusiasm is genuine and it will become contagious, which helps to get everyone else on board and keeps them there, for the long haul.
-Make a regular effort to attend FM conferences, such as IFMA’s World Workplace, as well as conferences specific to your company’s industry. In addition, go to local meetings, read or follow relevant blogs, and immerse yourself in the FM community and the community associated with the company you manage. This allows you to develop a feel for your industry from multiple viewpoints. Social Media sites such as LinkedIn are a great networking resource.
-Get certified: Certifications for Facility professionals are in place with the Certified Facility Manager (CFM®), Facility Management Professional (FMP®) and Sustainability Facility Professional (SFP®) designations through the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) and its partner associations. Certifications serve more than one function. On the one hand, you are learning more about specific aspects of your industry, which satisfies the continuing education process discussed previously. Certifications also signal to those you work for or with that you are dedicated to your job and understand the importance of always striving for improved results. Remember; lead by example.
An FM’s job is never completely finished, as there are always goals and benchmarks you are setting for you or are being put in place by others. This often is above and beyond the regular work, which is always grabbing your attention. You must balance the regular work with the demands of staying relevant and on the forefront of an ever-advancing industry. Start making plans now to up your game to ensure you are riding the wave and not just paddling out.