The physical office building is one of a company’s greatest assets and investments as well as a substantial source of liability. If the facility is well designed, properly maintained, and used to its fullest potential, all is well. But when it is in disrepair, the workplace can become unpleasant or even hazardous. If space is underutilized, businesses overspend while getting a low return on their investment per square foot.
Who Is Responsible for Making Sure This Doesn’t Happen?
It’s the facility manager. In the 1980s, the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) was formed to recognize facility management as a discipline in its own right. Originally, this profession revolved around responding, repairing and replacing when things went wrong. Today, the scope of responsibility has greatly expanded to include everything from daily facility management operations, space planning and design, to energy conservation and office furniture installation.
Challenges Faced by Facility Management
As a profession, facility management is facing tough times. Too often, business owners still view FMs as handymen rather than experts. In addition, it is apparently difficult for the discipline to attract younger people who would be the professional FMs of tomorrow. Eric Teicholz with Graphic Systems remarks that this cohort has different expectations for the workplace—with more emphasis on collaboration and technology. In fact, millennials need to be engaged in designing and operating facilities for the workforce of tomorrow. They are uniquely situated to fully understand how to make the most of the modern office.
Facility Management Goes Virtual
Technology has the potential to transform facility management over the short term and for generations to come. Angela Lewis and Jim Whittaker discuss these changes in their 2013 article for the FMJ. They point to the role that software now makes in facility management decisions. Embedded sensors make it possible to monitor and control energy usage at a very granular level. 3D office planning programs can reveal hidden opportunities to maximize space. Having access to data and analytics will make it easier for facility managers to increase stakeholder buy in for facility decisions that have real world business benefits.