Creating value through facilities management
Facilities management professionals are becoming strategic in an increasingly data-driven environment
Employee-centric offices and well-managed facilities that promote wellness, boost productivity, reduce staff turnover and improve bottom line reflects the new norm for the corporate environment, heavily influenced by the customer service-oriented coworking sector.
At the front line of this new people-focused workplace are facilities managers, whose role has changed dramatically over the past five years. Long gone are the days when they simply executed work orders and managed third-party vendors. Today their goal is to create a workplace experience that helps attract and retain talent, implement new technology to improve workers’ productivity and engagement, and reduce costs and environmental impact.
This must be achieved within their core function of running the day-to-day operations of a workplace, including cleaning, security, catering, electrical management, and water management.
In this exceptional time for organisations, facilities management is becoming core to business activities, says Cheryl Stevens, Executive Director, JLL, who oversees facilities management for ANZ bank.
“Companies are increasingly relying on facilities managers to bring the latest trends and global best practice to the table. It’s typically something they are looking to third parties to provide, along with evidence of the value they are delivering,” says Stevens.
To meet new demands, facilities management companies are proactively recruiting technologically-minded milennials, adds Stevens.
Demand for facilities management is growing. Global revenue in the sector expected to surge over the next five years, especially due to increasing government social and transport infrastructure development, as well as governments’ efforts to make public buildings more energy efficient, according to the Global Facility Management Services Market Research Report, by Mart Research.
But, it is the corporate environment, where organisations are putting ever greater emphasis on increasing productivity and attracting and retaining top talent, that is pushing facilities managers to stay ahead of the curve.
Rapid advances in technology, as well as data and analytics, is allowing them to support organisations in a more evidence-based manner.
“Maintaining or replacing an air conditioning or ventilation system might seem like pure expenditure to a business, but companies cannot afford the potential negative impact of a faulty system on workers’ health and productivity,” says Stevens. “Data can now help facilities managers predict when equipment is at risk of faltering so they can maintain a pleasant workplace and make savings in the long run by avoiding a loss in productivity.”
While understanding how to interpret data and operate digital platforms is of increasing importance, people skills have also become integral to the facilities manager's role.
Increasingly, they are honing their soft skills, such as relationship management, communication, collaboration and problem-solving to keep up with the trend towards high-level customer service, and to better align the role of a facilities manager, an organisation’s commercial real estate function, and its core business model.
“In the customer-centric business environment, the management of people is as much a mark of a good facilities manager as the management of space,” says Stevens.
Rising competition in all industry sectors has pushed organisations to look at outsourcing non-core objectives so leaders can focus on running their business.
As a result, outsourcing is expected to grow significantly, according to the Mart Research report.
“Keeping facilities at their optimum, and operational, is imperative for the workplace experience, but keeping kitchens tidy, toilets flushing, furniture comfortable, and the air clean, is not for business leaders to keep their minds busy,” says Stevens.
"There are skilled people for those roles, and there is evidence that operational costs can be reduced through outsourcing.”