Furniture laid in a typical office facilities

Why leading Facilities Managers do not take a facilities centric approach to Facilities Management


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The term Facilities Management is a misnomer. Whilst it’s true that it mainly involves fixed asset management, maintenance management, cleaning services, property services, support services, catering services and security services. At the core of Facilities Management is the workforce, and the efficient use of space to increase productivity. Facility Managers could be accurately described as productivity facilitators. Though, they don’t create the productivity, having the right design, and management of the facility should always have as its chief goal the increase of productivity, and that can only be accomplished by meeting the needs of the people.

Prioritising Workforce Productivity over Efficiency

Many years ago, companies had great inefficiencies and needed to make operations as efficient as possible to increase the bottom line. Facilities Managers were tasked with the goal of making spaces more efficient and the results worked well. Companies were able to do a lot more with less and waste was reduced. But almost any idea can outlive its utility.

Michael Mankins, the leader in Bain & Company’s Organization and Strategy Practices, conducted a study that proved that productivity has replaced efficiency since. His team collaborated with the Economist Intelligence Unit and found that there are a lot of talented people in companies who were shackled by the mantra of efficiency and when productivity became the new mantra were freed to produce unencumbered.

Facility Management Companies who are people-centric and productivity obsessed can transform an organization with proper designs and efficient management of the facilities. Yes, efficiency is still vital. Being able to maximize resources is and always will be a good business practice, but businesses are no longer willing to sacrifice productivity at the altar of efficiency. Forward thinking Facility Managers are keenly aware of this dichotomy. They understand how to design and manage facilities to optimize efficiency to maximize productivity.

Workspace Supported Healthy Lifestyle

Employee’s health is no longer just a concern of employees. Companies have realized that a healthy employee is a happier and more productive employee. Facility Managers are incorporating healthy alternatives for employees, such as gyms, yoga studies, open spaces for meditation and even tranquil gardens. Futurice a digital consulting company from Finland, even has a sauna for its employees. The company believes that employees should have the amenities necessary to be productive and happy. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that Futurice was named best place to work by Great Place to Work Institute.

This preoccupation with creating a healthy environment for employees may seem like a fad for a lot of people, but research indicates that this is far from a Silicon Valley sign of excess. In an article in Inc. Magazine titled Why Workspace is So Critical to Employee’s Success, Adam Heitzman writes that, “work-life balance isn’t just a buzz-word anymore, it’s practically a KPI for your company’s success.” We spend such a big part of our lives in offices. This time can be life-sucking with a bad approach to Facility Management and life-enhancing with an approach that makes these spaces serve, not just the utility of the moment, but the productivity of the future.

The old approach of churning as much results as possible by creating a sterile high-pressure work environment does not work for the short term and it’s devastating to the long-term goals of the organization and its people. Many government offices across the EU, and the world for that matter, subscribe to this approach. These entities are not known as models of productivity. Even government agencies are catching up and using Facility Managers that create a more people-centric approach to facility management. In the Guardian, while discussing creativity and the wellbeing of employees from a Facility Management standpoint, they quote Cary Cooper, CIPD president and wellbeing expert who says that “employers who laid off staff in the last recession and are relying on a ‘lean and mean workforce’ are beginning to realise they need wellbeing policies to retain their staff and spark a creative culture.” Many of these wellbeing policies start with the proper planning and management of facilities.

Facilities reflect Organisational Values

A professional Facilities Manager aligns the facility planning and management with the values of the organization. If there’s an incongruency between the values of the company and the facility, there was a lapse in communication between the company executives and the facilities manager. If, on the other hand, you walk into a company’s headquarters and the offices, the hallways, kitchens, open spaces all feel right, chances are great you’re visiting a company whose facility manager and executive team are on the same page.

It is the Facilities Manager’s job to create an environment that not only mirrors the culture and values of the company, but also reinforces them. It should accommodate the current projects and it should foresee the future growth while maintaining that culture and values well represented throughout the facility.

Creating the Workplace of the Future

Facilities Managers study and implement new ways to upgrade workplaces. Many companies are applying alternative working styles that cannot thrive in traditional office designs. That is why Facilities Management looks ahead in attending to these requests. Employees get inspired by workstations that represent their personality, and though they may not look like home, they are still and extension of them.

The best workspace designs take the way we work into consideration. Employees tend to be more connected, more mobile and the space needs to accommodate this new paradigm of working. Laptops and mobile phones are omnipresent, this means that employees are not a tethered to workstations as the were in the past. This creates an incredible opportunity to design spaces that are unique where employees can experience a different working environment every day of the week.

Facility Managers also work with the latest software to ensure optimal results. For example, meeting rooms are now managed through collaborative software that allows the booking of conference rooms. New designs often incorporate some open spaces which allows for more collaboration and more conference rooms where groups can gather and get things done.

The best practices on design and facilities management take under consideration some of the new trends and a lot of the new data. For example, open spaces are loved by many and hated by others. New designs consider both camps with private spaces, open spaces and lots of space for meetings and collaboration. Work is a lot more social than in the past. This trend is likely to continue, and its best to utilize designs that optimize the good parts of this trends while minimize its shortcomings. Oliver Wainwright from The Guardian interviewed a Google executive who was discussing the UK headquarters. The executive said that the new design was made to “encourage casual collisions of the workforce.” The ideal Facilities Manager will understand the profundity of that statement and will create the right environment to increase these important “collisions.”