What are the Top 4 Challenges of Real Facilities Leaders?

by Tiffany Bloodworth Rivers on January 10, 2020

Facilities Managers face many challenges during a typical day. Considering the multitude of distinctive elements they must bring together, this should come as no surprise. Diligence and flexibility in handling every scenario not only defines their success, but that of the entire company as well.

Facilities management is a demanding profession that requires a diverse set of facility management skills in order to be successful. The consistent professional, interpersonal and even emotional demands that FMs face on a daily basis seem to fly from all directions.  In a recent study, we asked 250 facilities leaders what their biggest challenges are and what they have done to solve them. Let’s take a look at the top answers.

#1 Challenge: Not Enough Time

“So much to do and never enough time.” We have all said it at some point in our lives, both personally and professionally. Facilities managers live it every day. There are budget meetings to attend, vendors to consult with and emails to answer. Nevermind the fact that while walking to the budget meeting, 4 people stopped you with questions, concerns and issues they need help with. And this is all before lunchtime! But just how can one get everything done? There are, after all, only 24 hours in a day.

“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” -Leonard Bernstein

If there is one thing we know, it is that FMs work well under pressure. Couple that with a well-laid plan and Leonard Bernstein’s recipe for success is perfect for today’s facilities manager. Multiple studies on the subject have revealed that the most productive workweek is 40 hours per week.

Spending more than 40 hours at work per week creates a temporary productivity improvement, followed by a sharp drop in productivity.”-Geoffrey James, Inc.com

Those who work 50 hours a week or more experience more health issues, have difficulty focusing and, therefore, make more errors that must later be corrected. Knowing you have fewer hours to accomplish the same amount of work adds the element of pressure that allows us to focus on the task at hand, eliminating any efforts that are semi-productive or wasteful.

Consider the 80/20 rule, where 20% of your efforts should generate 80% of your results. Identifying and eliminating the 80% of your efforts that produce the last 20% of your results, therefore, will find you that much further ahead. Make the most of your time by reducing needless or redundant paperwork and emails and slashing all non-essential meetings from your schedule—you will be shocked to find how much time this frees up!

However, it is also paramount for you to adopt technology. Technology to manage the wide range of locations, spaces, services and assets is critical in today’s fast paced world. You cannot continue to say – “I don’t have the time”. You have to make the time because the result is a more productive, cost-effective workspace and the ability for you to more effectively manage and plan for the future.

#2 Up-Managing

We have all had one at least once in our careers—that boss who, rather than inspires, drains all inspiration and enjoyment out of your job. Recent studies reveal a rise in employees leaving their jobs because of those they work for, rather than a heavy workload. But since leaving your manager for another position may find you right back where you started, employing a few simple strategies to take your success back into your own hands is a more viable option. An added bonus—you will strengthen your leadership skills in the process.

Identify what makes them tick

Put yourself in your manager’s shoes for a moment and try to understand what it is that motivates them. What is it that makes them lose sleep at night? What does (s)he value most out of an employee and how do they measure success? Getting into your boss’ head for just a moment better aligns you with their motives, allowing you to deliver results, leaving “failures” behind.

Highlight their strengths

Each of us have both strengths and weaknesses; no one is immune. Highlighting your manager’s weaknesses only breeds negativity and gains an enemy. Instead, identify their strengths and find ways to build on those; work diligently to turn their negatives into successes. Keep in mind that your boss’ success equals your success.

Maintain loyalty

If you are unable to remain loyal to your manager, it is definitely time to find another job. Keep in mind, however, that every position has its negatives. You have already learned how to be productive and successful in this position, do you really want to start all over again?

#3 Organization and Tracking of Spatial Needs  

Whether yours is a small company housed in a modest space or a global corporation with multiple buildings, proper space management is critical to your organization’s survival. There is so much to consider in proper space management, how does your facilities team keep it straight?

If yours is a small organization, housed in less than 30,000 square feet, you may be able to “eyeball” it, assuming proper coordination with your HR and IT departments. You may even be able to take pen to paper and properly map out a floor plan for up to 100,000 square feet, but it will consume a serious amount of your time. The most efficient tool for organizing and tracking spatial needs is an IWMS tool such as Space Management Software. Implementation of such a tool opens up a new world for facilities management teams, reducing wasted time spent on spatial planning and resources such as printed floor plans. Space Management Software allows you to visualize your floor plans on-line, understand how space is being used and allows you to create multiple scenarios to meet future space needs. Since space represents one of your largest assets, as well as a significant portion of your budget, it only makes sense to invest in the facility management tools for proper management.

#4 Produce More With Lower Budget And Less Resources  

This is an age-old issue, faced by all, that will continue well into the future. It is apparent that carefully examining and quantifying company’s spatial and tangible assets is critical to cost control. Eliminating redundant activities and embracing tools to maximize resources and time is also a standard consideration. However, what sets the leaders apart from the rest is educating the powers that be about the tremendous impact of the work environment on workforce productivity. Several studies have been conducted regarding this concept. Forbes reported a year ago on research studies that prove such variables as temperature, lighting and glare, noise, ergonomics, and color make a real difference. These factors impact the productivity of the workforce. With increased productivity, the workforce will be more effective in their creation, design, build, distribution of products and services resulting in increased profitability of the organization.

The typical facilities manager faces multiple challenges throughout the day. Problem-solving and agility are critical skills every FM needs to ensure every employee has what they need to produce. While each FM team’s goals vary from the next, the primary goal remains the same—face challenges with a level head and an open mind, leading their company to long-term success. What are the greatest challenges you face as a facilities manager?

From time and management to space and budget, facilities laders face many challenges. Learn how integrated workplace management systems can solve these concerns. Schedule a demo today.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in September 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and relevance.


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.

Capterra Ratings: ★★★★★ 4.5/5