If you’re are a facility manager, there’s a good chance someone has recently mixed up your job title with that of a property manager or office manager. To an extent, the mix-up is understandable, since the three titles certainly sound similar. But when it comes to actual roles and responsibilities, there are significant differences. Sure, there might be a bit of overlap in certain organizations, but for the most part, the jobs have little in common except for the word manager in the title.
So what are the differences between the three positions? Simply put, property managers, facility managers and office managers all look after the office environment, but their focus areas, motivations and audiences are fundamentally different.
The role with arguably the least overlap with the other two, property management, shows its biggest difference right there in the name: property management. You wouldn’t take your office’s rent check to your facility manager any more than you’d email the property manager about approving that seat change reset.
Generally speaking, facility managers and office managers are concerned with the people using the space, while property managers are concerned with the space itself—the physical building shell and rented offices. They collect rent, keep the building maintained to ensure it retains its value and ultimately answer to the landlord. It’s not uncommon for these professionals to be qualified as Certified Property Managers through the Institute of Real Estate Management.
You could say a property manager’s job is the building. As the company renting the office space, they are unquestionably your valuable allies at times—but their ultimate responsibility is the building itself, and not your organization and its unique office layout.
Office managers are primarily concerned with the human aspect of the working environment. While an office manager may take on some of the duties associated with facilities management—particularly in smaller organizations that do not have a dedicated facilities management team—it is largely a people-focused role that handles the tasks that keep an office running from one day to the next; this includes timekeeping, staff training, report writing and keeping the fridge stocked. Since they are in charge of the day-to-day office setup, office managers will sometimes also take on FM-related tasks like coordinating a small move or desk reshuffle, but large reconfigurations would fall into the hands of the facility manager.
Because of the nature of the role, the job of an office manager not onlyhas overlap with facilities management, but also with some other roles like HR and operations. Overall, though, an office manager’s responsibilities have little to do with the space itself, focusing more on the direct operational functions of the organization and the needs of its employees. In many organizations, for example, the office manager will play an important role in reinforcing the company culture and ensuring that it is reflected in the office environment. This all gives the role some fluidity, especially compared to the more rigid role of the property manager.
What are facility managers? Facility managers typically take care of the responsibilities of running one or more facilities, in addition to potentially managing cost-benefit analysis and hiring. Facility managers may be in charge of multiple facilities.
Unlike property managers, facility managers are primarily concerned with tasks that further a tenant company’s interests, not the building owner’s. So you can think of a facility manager as a sort of “property manager” for the business—someone who looks after the needs of the company occupying the office space. FMs manage the physical desks and furnishings, shared spaces and resources like printers and copiers. They often also oversee contracted services like cafeteria, recycling programs and waste management. Lastly, facility managers play a massive role when it comes to change management. When the office needs a redesign or the time has come for the company to move to a larger space, it will be the facility manager who owns the operation and does the necessary planning. As for official certification, FMs can become certified through the International Facilities Management Association (IFMA).
Where property managers are primarily there to help with buildings that generate revenue for someone, facility managers work in spaces regardless of who owns them. Not every office has its own facility manager—and to add to the confusion, some buildings call the people handling property management tasks facility managers—but facility managers tend to be most prevalent in large spaces with numerous employees and associated needs. Regardless, it’s easiest to think of facilities management as existing in the center of a continuum between property and office management—doing whatever is needed to make the office space a better and more productive place for the employees who work in it.
It doesn’t matter what you call the people who keep your office environment as pleasant and productive as possible, OfficeSpace can help make their jobs much easier. Request a demo to see how we can help streamline office-related tasks and responsibilities in your organization.
Photo Credits: Shutterstock / Branislav Nenin, Shutterstock / GaudiLab, Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images