By Gregory Blondeau
In honor of World FM Day today, it’s important to take a moment to recognize the important duties and challenges that these men and women undertake each day. The role of a facility manager can sometimes go without praise, and as such we wanted to use this opportunity to shine a light on what life would be like if facility managers did not exist.
Let’s imagine a place in which there are no facility managers. In a frightening world such as this, facilities would not meet the needs of the people who work in and around them. Facilities would also fail to be suited to the work being done by the people, whether it’s talking on telephones or running forklifts — chaos would ensue.
“Facility managers supervise numerous aspects of a company’s facilities, including security, architecture, computer systems, telecommunications, interior design, real estate acquisition, mailrooms and more,” according to the International Facilities Management Association (IFMA).
Of course, In a world without facilities managers, there be no IFMA at all. But still, imagine the wide-ranging impact that quote represents. From computer systems to mailrooms, products and services we rely on everyday would fail to be delivered.
Here are just a few of the responsibilities a facility manager might have and tend to on a daily basis:
- Planning for the facility
- Doing financial forecasting and drawing up facility budgets
- Leasing and getting rid of real estate
- Buying furnishings and equipment and hiring contractors
- Overseeing facility construction and renovation
- Looking out for health, safety, and security
- Monitoring environmental health
- Overseeing building operations, maintenance, and engineering
- Planning and managing the use of the space
To put it simply, without facility managers, a lot would not get done.
“A typical day for a facility manager is pretty unpredictable. You can find yourself giving a presentation to the CEO on a cost-saving project at 8 a.m., and within the hour be on the roof of a building, figuring out the best repair for a storm-damaged air conditioning unit,” says Joseph Valencic, an independent consulting facilities manager.
So, if all facility managers in the world were to suddenly vanish…what would we do? Would we just hire new people to fill their positions? The answer is a resounding “no.” This is not an entry-level job. It takes time to learn everything involved in the job and to gain the necessary experience. Many facility managers begin as engineers, building managers and assistants before moving into this senior position and therefore are hard to simply replace.
While many facility managers are employed by large companies or organizations, experts say there is now a new trend towards hiring facility managers as independent consultants. These freelance consultants work with a number of clients at a time. Companies are beginning to outsource their facilities management, so contract management may become the future role for facility managers.
As we move towards a more freelance model of facilities management, it is important to consider the crucial role facility managers play and ensure they are both compensated properly and given the resources, hours and leadership roles needed to fulfill their duties. In this way, we can prevent a world without facilities managers, which, as we’ve illustrated, would be a very dark place.
Gregory Blondeau is on a mission to transform corporate hospitality as the founder and director at Proxyclick, a web-based software company that manages visitors to your office.