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Facilities management is a huge sector, employing thousands and bringing millions of pounds into the UK economy – but how much to do we understand and appreciate its impact and value?
Some facilities managers (FMs) feel that they are not given the credit they deserve, and when you begin to assess the impact that they have on the economy and society it is not surprising that they feel aggrieved.
At BIFM we are keen to demonstrate that FM touches so much in everyone’s daily lives and therefore has a huge influence on the wider world. It is when you take a step back and assess the environment that we all live our lives in that you realise how far reaching and important our profession is.
A broader case
It is fair to say that the healthcare industry is probably one of those where FMs wider impact is most evident. It has the potential to have a positive impact on patients, those visiting their loved ones and the essential staff that are caring for them. In terms of demonstrating FM’s impact on wider society there are very few examples that are more tangible.
The danger, however, is that FM is not seen as a vital tool in delivering on objectives; in this case patient care. Too often FM is the silent resource and only comes into focus when there is an issue that requires attention. When it’s considered like this there is a danger that its impact is stunted. Often multiple suppliers will provide a range of services and at times, when these different services need to work together, things fall between two stools. This will have a negative impact on the three groups of people mentioned above.
Turn that around, and view FM as a central part of you achieving your objectives, and you will begin to look at the proactive role that it can play rather than taking the reactive approach which can lead to a disjointed operation ultimately failing to deliver on the experience you want to create. Facilities managers know this; it’s everyone else we need to convince.
Demonstrating the value of FM
So, how do FM practitioners, with our support, make the case internally to the key decision makers? At BIFM we’re looking at a number of ways in which we can demonstrate FM’s value. Our ThinkFM conference this year, ‘The workplace and beyond’, will focus on the impact on business, the economy and society with a range of speakers from a variety of different sectors, professions and expertise discussing key trends driving change in the workplace, managing energy and the convergence of professional disciplines.
We will also be launching a number of research projects that will aim to quantify FM’s impact, outline leading edge thinking in the industry and look at the future trends that will take the profession forward. We are also working on a joint project with ITN Productions to create a series of short films on how FM makes a difference. Avoiding the temptation to delve into the technicalities and focusing on the difference it makes through profiling FM’s in a range of organisations and seeing the results of their work.
We want to focus on helping practitioners with their internal conversations. It is always too easy to fall into the trap of using the language and terminology that we’re comfortable with but all this does is perpetuate stigmas that may exist around a given profession. What decision makers want to hear is how you can help them achieve their goals. By putting yourself in their shoes, understanding their challenges and aims, assessing how FM can drive them to overcome the challenges and reach their goals and, finally, communicating that back to them in a way which will resonate with them we will see that awareness and recognition grow.