FM is evolving. A function that might once have been viewed as the ‘maintenance, servicing and cleaning’ department, a necessary but purely internal aspect of a business’s day-to-day operations, now has a far more strategic role to play.
The need for facilities management not only to align with wider organisational objectives but actively to drive them, may well have been accelerated by the impact of Covid-19; however, even pre-pandemic, there was a growing understanding of how the workplace itself can affect and influence business productivity, team cohesion, and personal wellbeing.
Post-lockdown, there continues to be much discussion about the workplace and its purpose, highlighting more than ever the need for FM to be strategically aligned with business objectives. As people gradually return to offices, business leaders and their FM teams have been implementing hybrid working practices, allocating space and resources, and finding the best ways to protect their staff and their business.
No longer hidden behind the scenes, facilities management is now taking its seat in the boardroom with an important strategic part to play in areas such as employee engagement and retention, sustainability and CSR, and the effective communication to all stakeholders and clients that the business lives and breathes its core values.
Historically regarded as an overhead, indeed often one of the biggest costs for most organisations, facilities management is an area likely to come under scrutiny if cost-cutting measures are required, and it can be difficult to link the impact of FM budget cuts to the bottom line.
The danger is that FM becomes seen as a commodity, the choice of service determined by the provider offering the best price – ‘a race to the bottom’. But, increasingly, recognition from business leaders of the importance of FM and the part it plays in delivering an organisation’s strategic objectives has put it centre stage.
Strategic facilities management can result in some clear benefits for businesses, for instance:
Meeting broader company objectives
Alignment with the broader vision and objectives of the company is crucial for FM to be successful. Without knowledge of what the business wants – and needs – to achieve, it is impossible to propose initiatives that move the organisation towards that goal.
For instance, if greater staff retention is a key business objective, strategic FM should support the provision of workplaces that enhance employee experience. Or, if embedding sustainability into the culture of a business is a priority (and, if not, why not?!) FM should be able to find ways to enhance inefficient buildings and practices.
Through continuous communication with stakeholders, and the flexibility to be able to respond to internal change, FM can help the organisation achieve its goals and ambitions.
Demonstrating return on investment
To help shift the notion of facilities management as a ‘cost centre’, or as a business department that is not seen as contributing to the bottom line, strategic FM needs to be able to demonstrate and measure the effectiveness of the service provided. It is complex, and a subject which the RICS report ‘Raising the bar – City Roundtables’ addresses, suggesting measurements might include vacancy rates, customer surveys, brand position and improved sustainability.
Strategic FM means taking a more holistic view of a workplace, its lifecycle, and its purpose. Whilst there might sometimes be greater upfront costs for a project, improvements to property or infrastructure that will prolong the productivity of a building, making it more economical or easier to run will result in longer-term savings for the business.
Achieving best practice and compliance
Business owners or organisations may not be sufficiently trained to understand the risks associated with a lack of compliance, and therefore not understand their own specific needs.
An experienced, strategic FM partner should be able to ensure that planning considers ‘implicit’ and ‘explicit’ needs; and, through regular and transparent communication with stakeholders, put together a plan that correctly interprets the business requirements.
Strategic FM is not just about managing the physical building and its assets. As pointed out in the RICS Strategic FM Framework: ‘To deliver services which are often seen by customers as mundane, but without which an organization will almost immediately cease to function, can only be achieved via a robust strategic plan.’
Is your FM provider aligned with your organisation’s strategic purpose? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how we work with businesses like yours.
RICS 1st edition – ‘Strategic Facilities Management’ https://www.fm-house.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Strategic_Facilities_Management.pdf
IFMA & RICS April 2018 – ‘Strategic FM Framework, Global 1st edition’ – https://www.rics.org/globalassets/rics-website/media/upholding-professional-standards/sector-standards/real-estate/strategic-fm-framework-1st-edition-rics.pdf
RICS ‘Raising the Bar I’ https://www.rics.org/globalassets/rics-website/media/knowledge/research/research-reports/raising-the-bar-i-enhancing-the-strategic-role-of-fm-rics.pdf
RICS ‘Raising the Bar, City Roundtables’ – https://www.rics.org/globalassets/rics-website/media/knowledge/research/research-reports/raising-the-bar-ii-city-roundtables-rics.pdf