Three ways to reposition the FM role.
66% of FMs believe the workplace is now more about culture than the physical environment.
– Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management
At last, facilities managers are now able to take a much more active role in the leadership of their organisations, influencing strategic direction and high-level decisions. Or at least, they should be.
Companies have been slow to react, but business leaders are now beginning to appreciate the potential impact of facilities management, and of the wider benefits of prioritising workplace wellbeing and experience.
While few businesses have gone as far as appointing a Chief Workplace Officer, employee and customer experience are likely to become more important measures of overall business success, which gives you, the FM, an opportunity to come to the fore. The workplace has become an extension and expression of a company’s brand and ethos, and as an FM you can capitalise on this shift by putting yourself in a position to drive meaningful change.
Until fairly recently, facilities management has largely been seen as a cost centre and service provider, fulfilling a support function. The rest of the organisation considers itself a customer, rather than a colleague or partner. This view leads to fundamental misconceptions of the role which affect culture and behaviour, and inevitably leads to a lack of recognition… leading to a lack of resources, and ultimately a lack of influence.
Some FMs are reluctant or unable to act strategically, trapped in a negative feedback loop, reacting rather than leading. But this is changing, thanks in large part to workplace trends born from the changes in wider society, technology, and how work gets done.
1. Hold strategic conversations focused on value and impact.
Building deeper relationships with HR, finance and internal comms helps you can stay in the know.
Consider how your operational knowledge can be translated and applied to other areas of the organisation.
Adopt a proactive attitude to information gathering and staying up to date with what’s happening elsewhere in the business. Ask if you can attend other departments’ team meetings every few weeks, either as a guest, or to share updates from the FM team.
Don’t wait to be invited – ask if you can get involved in projects where FM can play a part in shaping outcomes and deliver ongoing benefits.
Demonstrating the value of the FM function by sharing information and ideas can unlock support and budget for your own objectives, including the implementation and effective use of computer-aided facilities management (CAFM).
2. Gather requirements collaboratively.
Facilities management now revolves less around buildings or services and more about empowering the people who use them.
Requirements gathering (and any subsequent requirements review) is an excellent way to engage more strategically with other managers and departments, and the ideal opportunity to demonstrate strategic thinking.
Seeking a wide range of perspectives and developing a deeper understanding of how buildings and services are used today will help you to determine what needs to change to meet the goals of tomorrow.
An effective CAFM technology partner will be able to support you in this process, which should ideally include workshops, with an exploration of how the working environment affects various factors, including:
- wellbeing and happiness
You need to lead and manage a discussion of what works well and what could be applied in other areas, as well as identifying the biggest sources of complaints. A structured but open approach will help ensure buy-in, faster adoption and greater success.
3. Share information to empower others.
Ultimately, facilities management is not about buildings or services, it is about enabling and empowering the people who use them.
A good CAFM system will help you to elevate your role, break down stereotypes and develop a greater understanding of how FM benefits everyone in the organisation – but it won’t do that on its own.
Developing a good communication strategy and sharing analysis, roadmaps and results with others in your organisation helps to promote an open and sharing culture, and raises awareness of the FM profile in your organisation.
Sell your objectives, let people know your plans and what’s in it for them. Encourage them to provide you with feedback. Acting as your own internal PR agent can enable others to recognise the importance of your role in supporting and facilitating the success of others.
> Download the Urgent eBook: Requirements gathering