The FM Professional

What if Facilities Managers Didn’t Exist?

David Spence
February 3rd, 2015

A Thought Experiment

Your colleagues couldn’t work

Without a facilities manager on hand, business would suffer in several noticeable ways. Problems as small as burnt light bulbs or as big as a faulty air conditioner would bring productivity to a halt. Imagine your company’s CEOs meeting in a conference room with no light, or your colleagues working in a building with sweltering heat! Facilities managers keep the workplace safe and well-functioning by preventing these situations from happening.

Your colleagues couldn’t relax

Facilities managers don’t just make offices functional; they make them comfortable. Without someone to think about issues like ergonomics and office design, workers may suffer from both mental and physical exhaustion. After all, uncomfortable office chairs and bland office interiors aren’t relaxing to anybody.

FMs also provide comfort in subtler ways, too. They ensure that kitchen appliances all stay in good working order; that bathrooms are well-maintained and that common areas like lobbies and hallways stay clean and safe. Lacking any of these things would cause a lot of frustration for everyone.

Employees wouldn’t be comfortable

Office design is a big part of a comfortable workplace. Without an FM to think about good layouts, seek feedback from employees on their preferences and think of solutions for using space more wisely, companies would suffer from decreased productivity. Board-stiff furniture and cramped office space do not help workers be their best.

On a more practical level, FMs are also there to save the day when an office chair breaks, when the bathroom sink overflows or when an appliance stops working in the kitchen.

This also supports employee morale. Employees’ physical comfort is crucial to a well-oiled office, and facilities managers are crucial to employees’ physical comfort.

Morale would decrease

HR often gets a lot of credit for boosting staff morale. But the situations I mentioned above? All of them point to how crucial FM is to morale, too. Changing a lightbulb or providing an adjustable office chair may not be as sexy or exciting as giving staff half-off discounts on gym memberships, but both are important to making the office a place that’s safe and comfortable. After all, who would want to work in a building where it’s difficult to see what you’re doing, or where the furniture’s so uncomfortable that standing all day seems like the better option?

The building would be a labyrinth

Wayfinding is an easy thing to take for granted. What if there were no signs labeling conference rooms, building wings or other areas of the office? What if the only way to find a meeting room that could accommodate twelve people and offer video conferencing was to look on every floor until you found the right room? Either situation would be a nightmare. Luckily, FMs ensure that no guest or staff member has to experience the building as a labyrinth. By using well-placed signage and good wayfinding software, FMs make finding your way around the building a simple task.

The building wouldn’t be safe

FMs keep the building clear of safety hazards. This could mean something as straightforward as sending cleaning staff to take care of spills. It could be something as complex as forming different disaster response plans. Whatever the danger, though, FMs ensure that the facility remains as safe as possible.

The FM’s role is especially important for disasters. Because while every company hopes that its emergency plans never have to be used, it’s key to have someone with a widespread knowledge of how to best protect the building, its assets and most importantly, its occupants.

It’s important to remember how crucial you are to a company’s success. Though it can be frustrating to do backbreaking work and get no credit for it, just remember: The entire operation would shut down without your help.

The building wouldn’t be functional

Knowledge of HVAC, electrical systems and other machinery also make facilities managers essential to an organization.

Without an FM to perform preventative and reactive maintenance, any of these could stop working at any given moment, costing company thousands of dollars in lost productivity and revenue.

On the employee side, a half-functioning facility would make working difficult, if not altogether impossible. The best FMs ensure that such problems rarely occur, and when they do, they’re fixed as quickly as possible.

Image credit: isolated images

The maintenance team would suffer

Within any group of people, there has to be a leader who decides how best to use the group’s individual talents and resources.

For maintenance teams, the FM is that person. FMs screen work orders and prioritize based on need and worker availability.

If the team lacked such leadership, it’s easy to imagine two workers responding to the same order, tasks piling up or jobs not getting finished—not to mention problems with identifying and negotiating with good contractors.

With an FM to make these executive decisions, though, problems are fixed with order and efficiency.

Every other department would suffer, too

Facilities management, though it may not be a very visible arm of a company, is crucial to every other department’s success.

When a new employee joins the team, facilities helps ensure that their space is ready for them by coordinating with HR and IT.

When the Finance department is suffering from lowered productivity because the temperature on that floor is too hot, facilities takes care of it.

When Marketing needs to re-arrange its office layout to increase team collaboration, facilities is there.

Without facilities to solve these challenges, departments would be forced to spend less time on their work.