Facility Executive Magazine Turns 30

Since the first issue was published in 1988 much has changed. Facility management has evolved with the times.

Facility ExecutiveBy Anne Cosgrove
From the October 2018 Issue

In the fall of 1988, this magazine was introduced to the facility management industry with the intent to inform readers of the latest trends, keep them up to date on pressing topics, and to connect members of this diverse industry. It’s 30 years later, and we’re proud of the coverage we’ve brought to you, our subscribers, and we look forward to continuing to chronicle the evolution of facility management through the next decade and more.

Originally titled Business Interiors, the publication and its expanded offerings have evolved in sync with the work of facility management professionals and the forces that impact the decisions they make for their buildings as well as their careers.

Facility Executive
(Photo: Facility Executive Archives)

As the name might imply, the first standalone issue of the magazine—published as the September/October 1988 edition (shown at right)—focused heavily on workplace topics. The future of contract furnishings and carpet maintenance were among the lead stories, but larger topics such as the U.S. economy were also included. From the start, the Business Interiors team, led by Publisher Susan Coene, recognized that facility management was not an isolated profession. Rather, the interconnection of buildings, people, and macro-trends were on the radar of those who sought out stories for the magazine.

In 1991, the publication was renamed Today’s Facility Manager, and this title change reflected a focus on the people who are crucial to the buildings and sites they oversee. Energy and telecommunication were among the topics that the editors and contributing writers were increasingly focused on through the 1990s, and to this day.

At the beginning of 2015, the Facility Executive team introduced the current magazine title, and it’s one we’ve found resonates extremely well with our audience and the environments in which they are working.

As organizations of all types are increasingly recognizing that facilities don’t simply house people or protect property, the facility management professional and his or her team are more visible than ever to the leadership of their organization. In many cases, the facilities head is part of the leadership team. It’s not surprising, considering the innate nature of a successful facility leader—someone whose skillset may be more technical than strategic, or vice versa, coupled with an ingenuity that provides the ability and motivation to know when to pursue further training and education (as well as when to call on team members or other colleagues for insight on a task.)

The responsibilities of facility management professionals are vast and diverse, and here we’ve chosen observations that appeared in the magazine’s 20 year anniversary article. This selection reflects the evolution of facility management responsibilities over several decades, along with the commitment of Facility Executive to cover these topics. We look forward to the next decade!

Facility Management Shaped By Diverse Responsibilities

Office Design. Originally created as part of Herman Miller’s Action Office in 1968, the cubicle evolved into a symbol of the office. In the early 2000s, Steelcase reported a decrease in cubicle size from 250 square feet to 190 square feet (a 21% drop) in its report, “The State of the Cubicle.” The open office was a development created by an increase in employee collaborative problem solving.

Facility Executive
he second annual Facility Executive Live! conference was held in Philadelphia, PA on the University of Pennsylvania campus on September 20, 2018. (Photo: Matthew Sham)

Meanwhile, a product that continues to have an impact on office furniture design is the Aeron Chair from Herman Miller. Designed by Don Chadwick and Bill Stumpf, the chair debuted in 1994 to critical acclaim. It came in three sizes. It wasn’t padded or upholstered. It did not look like a typical task chair. Consequently, its popularity and success made other companies take notice. With the introduction of the Aeron, a slew of other ergonomic products entered the marketplace-footrests, mouses, keyboards, desks, and document holders—all developed with the idea to make employees more comfortable and more productive while spending hours in front of a computer.

Hoteling for office design was pioneered in 1994 by ad firm Chiat Day and popularized in the later part of that decade as a result of the boom in wireless communications. Hoteling allowed facility managers to create shared workstations for employees who did not spend every day in the office. This helped reduce facility costs, such as energy and furniture, associated with a permanent office setting.

While the idea of hoteling set up a situation of unassigned workspace, employees usually needed to reserve the station prior to coming in on a particular day. (Technology available today comes in handy for that.)

E-mail, the Internet, and Connectivity. Speaking of the rise of the computer in the workplace, the early to mid-1990s could mark the beginning of the decline of face-to-face conversation. E-mail was technology, much like the Internet, used by the U.S. government and universities, before it became an indispensable part of everyday life. Now instead of walking down the hall, traveling to another building in a facility, or even picking up the phone, people send an e-mail in the search for immediate answers and information.

While helping fms save money on phone bills and progressing to a “paperless office,” e-mail also forced fms to install a variety of high-tech security measures to guard against spam mail, Internet viruses, and the leaking of proprietary information. Another victim of e-mail: the mailroom delivery person, who according to designer Douglas Ball is “retired and living in Florida getting e-mails from the kids.”

And around 2003, use of flat panel computer monitors surpassed traditional, bulky CRT screens for the first time. The new wave of monitors was a boon for facility planners, since they had a smaller footprint on the desk and used less energy. Employees enjoyed the flat monitor, according to Ball, since they “no longer had to face the corner because the big tube would not go anywhere else.” The monitors also provided fms with more flexibility in their floor plan designs.

Sustainability and The Green Office. The green office once meant outfitting it with a few plants. In the 1990s and into the 2000s, environmental awareness developed into one of the biggest opportunities and challenges for facility professionals. Founded in 1993, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) prompted building owners and managers to account for environmental factors when operating their facilities. What started with 60 firms at an introductory meeting has grown to a worldwide organization. The organization’s development of LEED third-party certification was created to ensure “the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.”

Everything from chairs to lights down to carpet fiber has become a sustainability opportunity. Also, around 2006 LED lighting began its entry into commercial lighting decisions. But even today, plants in the office are still a part of being green.

As we look to 2019 and beyond, the Facility Executive team is busy talking to facility professionals and the many other experts in the industry to continue publishing stories that bring value to our readers. So, in closing, what changes do you see coming for 2020? And how are you planning to keep your facilities running smoothly whatever those shifts in the landscape might bring?

Facility Executive Timeline

  • 1988 Business Interiors debuts as a standalone magazine, with Publisher Susan Coene at the helm.
  • 1990 The magazine features its first story on the recently passed Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • 1991 Business Interiors becomes Today’s Facility Manager. Annual Readers’ Choice Awards are introduced.
  • 1993 Coverage of the Internet and its impact on FM appears for the first (and certainly not last) time.
  • 1995 Today’s Facility Manager debuts its online presence with a new website.
  • 2000 Sustainability is going strong with USGBC’s LEED program making the magazine’s August cover.
  • 2003 The first Facility Executive of the Year award winner is featured in the January issue.
  • 2005 FacilityBlog, now a very popular spot on the magazine’s website, is launched.
  • 2015 January/February issue debuts new title to reflect stature of its readers: Facility Executive.
  • 2017 The first Facility Executive Live! conference and networking event takes place in Chicago.

Do you have a comment? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below or send an e-mail to the Editor at acosgrove@groupc.com.