The FM Professional

Types of facilities management: a complete guide to 11 facility types

Darin Herle
August 23rd, 2022

Different types of facilities present different types of challenges to the people that manage them. For example, a facility manager (FM) for a nursing home will have very different duties than one in charge of industrial facilities. 

In this article, we explore different types of facilities and facility management. 

We’ll also cover how facility management best practices can create more efficient buildings and spaces for the people who rely on them. 

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Types of facilities

‘Facilities’ is really a catch-all term to describe built environments that serve a specific purpose.  This includes any building(s) and grounds itself, along with any other infrastructure and/or real estate.

A facility manager or facility management team are the ones tasked with managing and maintaining these spaces, to ensure that they stay clean, safe, and productive. 

Some of the most common types of facilities are offices, hotels, restaurants, stores/shops, hospitals and other health related facilities, labs, schools and campuses, apartments, and a variety of industrial facilities such as factories and warehouses.

Note that you may know some of these facilities by more colloquial names. You might call a ‘manufacturing facility’ a factory, for example, while your local ‘health care facility’ is a hospital or long-term care clinic. 

Regardless of what you call them, there’s always someone working behind the scenes to ‘keep the lights on’ at every facility type. 


What are the different types of facility management? 

As hybrid work comes to the forefront, FM responsibilities are expanding. Many FMs today are stepping into leadership positions. 

Beyond this, facility management services can be boiled down to two main categories:

  • Hard facility management, which deals with the physical aspects of a facility—like the HVAC, building and grounds maintenance, waste disposal, lighting, and security
  • Soft facility management, which deals with all the people who help maintain the facility, like custodial services, catering, and grounds maintenance; according to the CBRE, outsourcing of facility management services will reach $1 trillion by 2025

Moving beyond these categories… Which facility management duties are actually needed can vary. This depends on the type of facility in question and the people who use it. 

The following 11 types of facility management are the most common. 

1. Occupancy and space management

Occupancy and strategic space management is a critical task for any FM managing office space in any capacity.

Maintaining an optimal occupancy rate is key to keeping real estate costs in check. At the same time, this also provides a great workplace experience

Move management also falls under this domain. Since this can be quite challenging, especially when dealing with a large and/or distributed workforce, many FMs will use move management software to simplify this process. 

FMs also need a good grasp of the three basic elements of space management (planning, implementing, and space tracking). At the same time, they need to stay abreast of the latest in space management best practices

2. Facility planning

Facility planning and space forecasting are another key area where good facility management can help provide a better workplace experience. Needs change, and the better FMs can anticipate these changes, the more efficient their facilities will be. 

Optimized space utilization is always critical in any facility. This is because it can help keep corporate real estate fees in check. At the same time, it can provide a better environment for users no matter what type of facility they’re in.   

When combined with space management software, FMs can even gather granular data surrounding desk or meeting room utilization. 

This data can also prove invaluable when it comes to headcount planning. FMs and leadership can both use it to improve long term forecasting.

3. Real estate management 

Real estate portfolio management can get unwieldy fast, especially when managing multiple facilities and types of locations. Understanding where space and budget might be wasted is critical to keeping costs in check. But this can be easier said than done without someone at the helm, collecting real estate analytics and managing leases (including lease administration and accounting). 

This ‘someone’ is often the FM. Which is why it’s invaluable to have options for simplifying real estate management in their toolkit.

4. Maintenance, operations, and building management

Buildings don’t keep themselves. FMs are usually not the ones screwing in lightbulbs or testing the fire alarms. But soft facility management will typically include ensuring that outside contractors are maintaining things properly. 

Specifically, FMs will often work with outside contractors in areas like maintaining the building automation system (BAS) and HVAC system, along with ground maintenance. It may also include other things. Like monitoring building access using a badge system or shoring up security in building automation systems

This facility management maintenance should also include predictive and preventative maintenance. It’s almost always cheaper and easier to predict problems (and fix them) before they occur. 

5. Energy management and sustainability

As environmental concerns come to the forefront, energy management and sustainability are more likely to make it to the facility checklist

This may include introducing new technology in the workplace. For example, occupancy sensors can detect when people are using a given space and adjust the energy use accordingly.  

Smart buildings: IoT are also becoming more prevalent in efforts to create more sustainability.

6. Emergency preparedness

A critical aspect of facility management will always be security. This is along with emergency preparedness and management. Regardless of the type of facility, security should be top of mind. While these areas may officially come under the purview of building operators or owners, FMs need to ensure they’re actually keeping all systems up to date and well maintained. 

That means FMs need to have regular consultations with building operators. As well as those in charge of the building automation system. 

For example, the BAS may include things like smoke control, where doors are locked to contain specific areas to keep the rest of the office safe in a fire. FMs need to continually ensure these types of safety measures stay functional and readily available. 

7. Asset management

Every facility will have assets that need to be protected and tracked. This is whether that’s technical or medical equipment, or laptops and chargers.  

Note that this can be particularly challenging in a hybrid workplace. Or one that is fully remote, where companies provide equipment to their remote employees. This can include things like company phones and monitors, along with complete office set-ups including desks, chairs, and more. 

The duty of tracking these assets will often be on the facilities team. Although IT may also be tasked with ensuring that hybrid workers have all the tools they need to be more productive. 

8. Workplace health and wellness

A good employee experience often comes down to good leadership, good HR policies and health services, and a flexible work environment. FMs may also have a role to play here, too. 

Namely, FMs are usually the ones responsible for keeping workspaces safe and clean. This is no small thing thanks to our new post-pandemic reality! 

Also thanks to the pandemic, FMs may be the ones responsible for ensuring social distancing is possible. This makes a social distancing planner an essential tool. 

They may also be responsible for creating a system for workplace health checks in our ‘new normal.’

9. Technology and smart office planning

Like we’ve covered, smart buildings and IoT sensors are increasingly joining the world of facility management. FMs now are responsible for introducing a variety of cutting-edge workplace management solutions that use technology to enhance the workplace experience. 

For example, FMs may be tasked with introducing tools and technology to allow for things like hot desking (and flexible desk booking overall), free addressing, and meeting room booking.   

And while they’ll likely work with IT to roll out these initiatives, it’s often the FMs who are tasked with discovering the software solutions in the first place. 

10. Employee and occupant experience

For FMs, the users of a facility are essentially their clients. As such, they’re ultimately responsible for ensuring their clients always have a pleasant experience while using their facility. This is especially important for FMs who manage office space, where the hybrid workplace and the employee experience are closely linked. 

In short, FMs need to ensure that their clients—i.e.: the office workers themselves—have a workplace that is clean, comfortable, and easy to navigate. 

11. Managing the future of work

Finally, more and more FMs are becoming workplace leaders. Especially as they help their organizations navigate all the challenges of hybrid working in a post-pandemic environment. 

When we were forced into lockdown, it was often FMs at the helm of helping employees and employers alike handle the sudden changes. 

Now, as hybrid evolves and we work to figure out what the future of work will be, FMs are actively involved in helping plan for the future and optimizing the return to the office

FMs therefore need to stay up-to-date with technologies and best practices as they change and evolve. This way, they can continue to help their organizations and the people they serve. 


Types of facilities that require specific workplace management software

Like we’ve covered, facility management is only becoming complex, both in short-term operations and long-term change management. 

To deal with this complexity, more FMs are turning to custom software to simplify and improve their processes. Flexible working software can help a wide range of FMs in their duties.  Depending on their industry, some also turn to specific software systems to deal with specific workplace challenges. 

Software facilities

Software companies are some of the most likely to embrace remote and hybrid working. As such, they require flexible FM tools to create a better hybrid workplace experience.

Companies like Hubspot, Drift, and Rapid7 leverage hybrid workplace software for tech companies to do just that. This software can streamline flexible seating, while also enhancing visibility and collaboration in the workplace. 

Because it integrates with tools like Slack, Teams, Okta, O365, and Google, this software also lets companies leverage their tech stack. 

And, critically, this technology creates an exceptional hybrid experience with interactive office maps, centralized request management, and an intuitive mobile app. 

Business services facilities

Similarly, cutting edge business services like Squarespace, DocuSign, and the Boston Consulting Group are also turning to hybrid work. 

Their FMs therefore also need powerful all-in-one hybrid workplace software for business services to simplify this process. Workplace reports and analytics, a visual directory, and office neighborhood software can dramatically improve their hybrid workplace and how well it serves their employees. 

Finance facilities

FMs managing large financial facilities need to help drive efficiency, typically by optimizing space and streamlining portfolio processes. So those working at companies like Scotiabank, Lending Tree, and Centra Credit use workplace management software for financial services to drive this efficiency. 

“It took me a year to research our options and whittle our choice down to OfficeSpace,” says Sharon Taylor, Assistant Vice President of Facilities at Centra. “I looked at about 12 software companies and assessed their pros and cons. Out of all the companies that we reviewed, OfficeSpace was by far the easiest and most intuitive system to use.”

Data security and privacy is also a top concern, so FMs here should ensure their software comes with security audits, data segregation, and encryption. 

Manufacturing facilities

Manufacturers need real estate that fits demand, noting that this demand is liable to change.

FMs at these types of facilities therefore must be able to make data-driven real estate decisions.

FMs at companies like Tesla, Campbells, and Logitech therefore use hybrid workplace software for manufacturers with critical features like real-time reports, space forecasting, office stack planning, and office scenario planning.

Biotech & pharma facilities 

Biotech and pharmaceutical companies often have complex challenges, since they often have a variety of cross-functional teams that require in-office access. 

To manage this, they often turn to hybrid workplace software for biotech and pharma.

When armed with the right features, FMs can use this software to inform decisions that impact both company objectives and employee needs. 

Healthcare facilities

Finally, there are a variety of inpatient and outpatient healthcare facilities that will require varying levels of FM oversight. 

FMs here have a duty not just to care providers and staff, but to those receiving care services as well. 

What they provide will rely heavily on the type of medical care provided (such acute care, intermediate care, home care, hospice care, nursing care, or 24-hour care), as well as the type of service provided (such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, or mental health services). 


What are the benefits of good facilities (regardless of type)? 

It’s hard to overstate the importance of good facilities, especially when FMs know how to improve employee experience

Different types of facilities require different types of FM specialties, of course. 

But when FMs are committed to their work, they can create better environments for the people that use them. 

Whether you’re in charge of a skilled nursing facility, a hybrid office, or anything in between, when you keep the focus on user experience, you’ll be creating a facility that is safe, productive, and future-proof.

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Photos: FG Trade, Mindful Media, gahsoon, gradyreese