The recent NFMT conference in Baltimore certainly didn't disappoint! I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to hear from not one, not two, but three industry leaders about their experiences managing both people and workplaces. We discussed how focusing on people first and adopting a customer-service mentality is key when creating successful work environments where people can thrive. Here are a few thoughts from my recent conversations with Chris Walinksi, Stan Mitchell and Stormy Friday.
Facility Management Strategies Impacting the People in the Workplace
Chris Walinksi, CEA | Building Operations Manager at Munich Reinsurance America
"Stop and say, my job is more than keeping the building open, my job is making the employees here, the best that they can be. You're now trying to maximize the output of your highest asset, and that's the people."
Chris is the Building Operations Manager for Munich Reinsurance America, where he oversees everything from construction to sustainability initiatives on a daily basis. He believes that to be successful in this industry, FMs must be in it for the bigger picture. Workplace leaders are doing so much more than maintaining structures or making sure the heater works and the lights turn on. They're cultivating environments that help people create some of the best products and experiences in the world. FMs have the opportunity and responsibility to make people more comfortable and productive than they ever thought they could be at work. It's an incredibly impactful position to be in.
When considering the complete lifecycle of a building, Chris mentions that since 90% of costs are related to the people occupying the facility, FMs must have a holistic view of the workplace. Implementing strategies that improve the value of every person working in the built environment will help the entire organization do well. From advances to technology to workplace design, every decision that's made by the FM will impact the people and then the organization as a whole.
Discussing the seemingly rapid change we're experiencing in today's modern workplace, Chris mentions that, "technology and the focus of how you design buildings...evolves like everything else", but it's how you choose to react to that change that can impact how your workplace and your workforce will evolve. Even during times of change, people will always push back - it's in human nature to be skeptical of shifts in our environment. But it's the FMs job to communicate the benefits that outweigh any potential negatives, so people begin to see why these changes are being made. Facilities leaders are not just building managers, but people managers first and foremost.
Facilities Management Customer Service and the ProFM Credential Program
Stan Mitchell | CEO of Key Facilities Management International
Stormy Friday | President of facility management consulting firm, The Friday Group
"We're in the people business and I believe what good FMs have is a customer-service mentality..."
"...that's key, that's what we need to strive for. Customer service and customer satisfaction is a key component of what we do."
Both Stan and Stormy have started companies that develop strategies which help organizations address challenges and run their buildings more efficiently. They both believe in being lifelong learners in any career, but especially for those who work in the built environment, which impacts so many other industries. The two of them were invited to help develop ProFM, a training and credentialing program built to celebrate the diversity and growing roles of facility management. They believe it will help strengthen the skillset of current and future FMs to help support the needs of tomorrow's workplace.
Stan mentions that as facilities managers we are "in the people business" and anything and everything we do is ultimately about the people. What we provide or don't provide affects people's behavior at work, and can have direct influence on how they perform at their job. Stormy believes we need to focus even more on hospitality than we currently do, and we need to continue to look at the built environment in a holistic way, which will lend itself to creating better spaces for the people that use them. She also spoke on how facility management can continue to learn from some of the best companies and most successful companies in the world that are all people-focused. Shifting focus to a people-minded framework builds a strong foundation for any other goals an organization has.
While workplace technology and workplace design continue to grab our attention and serve real needs in the industry, it's important we remember who we're serving. The innovation and advances we adopt are to serve the people in the best way possible, and that should always be our focus as workplace leaders.