The Important Role of a Facility Manager & Knowing If Your Building Needs One

Facility managers oversee 287 million square feet of built office stock in Central London alone. They carry out various hard FM and soft FM services that make them directly responsible for the safety and well-being of building occupants as well as the general upkeep of the built environment.

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.

But, is hiring a facility manager the only viable option when ensuring your building is operating at its most efficient? Can FM tasks be undertaken by other personnel such as office managers, school administrators, and maintenance managers?

Or, alternatively, can a facility manager’s role be completely digitalised using CAFM Software and their services outsourced to FM providers?

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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. While also keeping on top of emerging challenges, such as hitting sustainable FM targets and adapting to hybrid and remote working environments.

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

An FM’s responsibilities are broken down into two categories; hard FM and soft FM services. Hard FM services include managing the physical aspects of a facility, such as:

  • Gas, plumbing, and heating
  • HVAC systems
  • Building maintenance
  • Lighting and Electrical

Whereas soft FM services include managing the usage of the facility such as:

  • Catering
  • Cleaning
  • Landscaping
  • Decorating

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.

Do Building Owners Need to Hire 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.

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What Type of Facilities Do You Manage?

Can Offices Benefit From a Buildings & Facilities Manager?

Building owners of commercial properties such as offices can benefit from having a buildings and facility manager, particularly if the building consists of multiple floors, rooms, and amenities. 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.

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

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 is ultimately one alternative to hiring a facilities manager; outsourcing FM.

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


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.

The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing FM Services Vs. Hiring a Facility Manager

Outsourcing Your FM Tasks

The Pros of Outsourcing FM

  • Relinquishing FM duties frees up time to focus on core business operations
  • Save on hiring, operational, and training costs of specialist FM teams
  • Working with experienced specialists ensures reliability and efficiency in carrying out FM tasks
  • Outsourced specialists can provide feedback for improved facility management growth

The Cons of Using Outsourced FM Services

  • Building owners will lose managerial control when it comes to making decisions
  • Sensitive facility and occupant data may need to be shared with external providers
  • The quality of work provided by a vendor may not match your employee standards

Hiring a Facility Manager

The Pros of Hiring an FM

  • All facility management operations and data are kept in-house
  • Building owners are relieved of a facility’s workload to focus on other elements of the business
  • Facility managers have experience in managing teams and outsourcing specific FM tasks to contractors
  • They come with specialist knowledge of strategic planning, building compliance, and safety standards

The Cons of Working With an FM

  • The unique skills of a facility manager mean they can demand high wages
  • FM decisions can take longer as permissions and sign-offs are required by executives


What Is a Facility Manager?

A facility manager is an individual who oversees the day-to-day operations of a building or an estate with multiple facilities. An FMs primary duties are to keep operations running smoothly whilst working within a set budget and ensuring the right teams carry out both hard and soft fm tasks as efficiently as possible.

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:

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