What Is a Facility Manager: Roles, Responsibilities & Importance to Building Operations

A facility manager (FM) is an individual who oversees the day-to-day operations of a single building or an estate of multiple facilities. Facility managers oversee 287 million square feet of built office stock in Central London alone.

Behind every well-run facility, there is a facility manager who is focused on workforce safety, office layouts, preventive building maintenance, contractor management, and health and safety compliance management, to name a few.

Ultimately, an FMs primary duties are to:

  • Provide a safe and secure working environment for occupants and staff
  • Keep property-led operations running as smoothly as possible
  • Ensure buildings operate within a set budget
  • Hire the right contractors to carry out hard and soft facilities management services

Although 62% of FMs are bound to spreadsheets – over half cite budget restraints for this – the use of IoT technology and CAFM Software is viewed as crucial for facility managers to excel in their role.

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What Type of Facilities Do You Manage?

What Does a Facility Manager Do?

A facility manager carries out strategic planning for building maintenance, facility budgets, managing third-party contractors, and ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of a workplace’s occupants. These responsibilities are broken down into two categories:

  1. Soft FM Services: Services relating to the usage of a facility such as cleaning and catering.
  2. Hard FM Services: Services relating to managing the physical aspect of a facility such as building maintenance and plumbing.

FM’s also keep on top of emerging challenges, such as sustainable FM goals and adapting to complex working patterns such as hybrid and remote.

Video: David Jones talks about his role as Director of Estates, Facilities, and Capital Development at the University Hospital Southampton NHS.

A key role of a facility manager is to ensure occupants are happy and getting the most from their built environment – after all, the main objective is to keep a building in the best possible working order to help generate more revenue.

Occupant satisfaction is achieved through effective space management such as the design of workspace layouts, ensuring shared spaces are clean, and providing the right amenities and equipment. 73% of office workers claimed well-managed spaces were the driving force that helped them perform better at work.

What Property Owners Should Considered When Choosing a Facility Manager

Of the 167 software buyers that used Comparesoft last year to find CAFM Software, Building Owners and Landlords made up the majority (45%). This highlights a growing trend; a large portion of building owners are seeking ways to manage facilities themselves.

45% of Building Owners and Landlords search for CAFM software in 2022

There a several factors to consider when deciding if you need a facility manager, one of which is the size of the estate. For owners of a small education nursery, a floor of offices, or a small engineering workshop, the role of a facility manager can be incorporated into staff ownership by using spreadsheets, notepads, or software tools.

For business owners of multiple facilities and complex operations, however, hiring a manager to oversee day-to-day facility operations is essential.

To drive value from a building, most owners will focus on two key elements; The long-term relevance of the building and the short-term effectiveness of the building.

The long-term relevance includes elements like structural integrity, exterior aesthetics, and internal paint/freshness of the building. The short-term effectiveness is focusing on the general workings of the building working like repairs, lighting, ventilation, layout management, occupancy management and, most importantly, health and safety.

An adequate facilities manager will work on the short-term effectiveness yet communicate with the management on the long-term relevance. That includes coordinating the demand and supply of hard and soft services. As well as handling matters relating to your property such as taking responsibility for on-site visitors and overseeing the health and safety of occupants.

Can Offices Benefit From a Buildings & Facilities Manager?

Owners of commercial properties such as offices can benefit in several ways from implementing a facility manager, particularly if the building consists of multiple floors, rooms, and amenities. Which is why office-focused property owenrs searched for CAFM tools the most in 2022.

Owners and managers of office buildings searched for CAFM tools the most

Owners and managers of office buildings searched for CAFM tools the most on Comparesoft in 2022

However, if an office building is being leased, the company leasing it will not benefit from having a facility manager in place. Instead, they’ll have an office manager.

An office manager will book meetings, schedule room cleaning, plan room layouts, implement safety documents, and ensure occupants are happy. However, this leads to a significant challenge for office managers; a high workload.

The majority of challenges in office management can be overcome by leveraging the capabilities of tools such as CAFM Software. Implementing the right tools in offices can help to improve workflow, which, in turn, reduces workplace stress, streamlines tasks, and brings a more organised structure to an office setting.

DutyTool NeededIncluded in CAFM Software?
Space planningFloorplanner
Time managementCalendar
Room bookingNotepad
Asset trackingSpreadsheet
Maintenance schedulingPhone/Email
Purchase planning for equipment/suppliesMicrosoft Excel/Google Docs
Sharing files/documentsDropbox
Creating formsMicrosoft Word/Google Docs
Cost/Financial planningMicrosoft Word/Google Docs
Recording/retaining informationNotepad
Communicating with employeesEmail/Slack/Skype
Visitor trackingSign-in book
Staff trainingMicrosoft Word/Google Docs/Email

What Is An Alternative to Hiring a Facilities Manager?

Unless building owners plan to carry out FM tasks by themselves, there are alternatives to hiring a facilities manager; outsourcing all FM responsibilities or opting for an integrated FM approach.

There are two main driving forces when choosing to outsource FM; cost and flexibility.

Outsourcing your facilities management is not a new concept. Outsourced FM covers more than 50% of the total facilities management market in EMEA regions and is the preferred choice among building owners, with just 35% of FM tasks undertaken in-house.

Outsourcing FM Services Vs. Hiring a Facility Manager

Source: https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/operations/our-insights/six-emerging-trends-in-facilities-management-sourcing

Outsourcing FM can mean anything from outsourcing a handful of soft fm tasks such as employing catering companies and using cleaning services to having a contractual agreement with an FM provider to alleviate a building’s entire hard and soft FM tasks.

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What Type of Facilities Do You Manage?


Do Buildings Need a Facility Manager?

Yes and no. Large operations such as NHS Foundation Trusts and owners of multiple facilities and large estates can benefit the most from having an experienced and skilled facility manager at the helm. However, for smaller operations such as nurseries and leased office buildings, the role of a facility manager can be performed by others with the use of tools such as CAFM Software.

What Are the 4 Key Skills of an FM?

When searching for the right person to handle the day-to-day operations of a building, keep in mind that the ideal facility manager should have these four key qualities:

  1. Strategically-Minded: Balance short-term FM goals with the long-term effectiveness of a building.
  2. People-Focused: Work well with internal team and external contractors.
  3. A Problem-Solver: Communicate clearly with executives and employees regarding building activities and problems.
  4. Analytically-Minded: The ability to understand and connect data analytics from one area of FM to another.