The FM Professional

What is facility management?

Brina Martens
June 17th, 2021

Facility management is the professional management of one or more buildings, with a focus on the efficiency and effectiveness of the organizations or occupants within the facility.

Most people are familiar with foundational departments within a company, like accounting, marketing, and sales. But this other core department is responsible for making sure all building and operational activities are running smoothly. 

Before jumping into the core components and benefits of facility management, it’s important to explain what it is not.

The term “facilities management” often gets grouped with office management and property management. While these are similar by nature, they have their differences

facility managers

Office management

Office management refers to the management of employees. These professionals are more concerned with the “people” component of an organization. For the most part, office managers are responsible for activities like timekeeping, employee training, report writing, and reinforcing company culture. Office managers are also responsible for ensuring the kitchen is full of snacks and drinks and is clean.

Depending on the company’s size, office managers may take on similar responsibilities that of facility managers. These tasks include small-scale office moves or office furniture rearrangements. 

Property management?

Property management differs drastically from office management and facilities management in that it’s primarily concerned with the actual building itself—not the people or things inside it. Managers are responsible for collecting rent checks, keeping up with building maintenance and functionality, and answering the landlord. 

In other words, property managers are concerned with the physical building and the rented office spaces.

facilities team

What is facility management?

At a high level, facility managers are concerned with the needs of the company occupying the building. Facility managers oversee the physical components of a space like desks, furniture, shared spaces, and resources like printers, copiers, and other office equipment. This department is also responsible for various contract services, including waste management and disposal, recycling programs, and food and beverage services. 

In addition, facility managers also focus on change management, like when the office needs to relocate or add to their property list. Facilities professionals are responsible for handling both the logistics and planning of these big moves. 

There are many benefits of facility management, like: 

  • Efficient task management
  • Productive and impactful company planning, optimizing, and forecasting
  • Explicit opportunities to reduce costs

Facility management helps organizations understand operations from both a zoomed-in and zoomed-out lens, leading to company-wide improvements. 

Now, let’s dive deeper into the role of an organization’s facilities management team. There are several core components of a facility manager that make this role unique from the other two: 

Facility management and space optimization planning

Facility management professionals are in charge of creating workspaces that maximize the use of office space to fit the organization’s needs and employees. In other words, facility managers are responsible for building workspaces conducive to company growth and employee wellbeing.

If a company is growing rapidly, it’s on the facilities team to ensure that the office space can withstand this growth from a spatial perspective and a people perspective using forecasting and space management tools

For example, suppose your company plans to hire 50 new employees in the next quarter. In that case, the facilities management team helps to figure out where those employees will fit or if a move or additional space is warranted. 

The changing work environment brought on by the pandemic has caused this particular responsibility to shift. Now, facilities professionals are navigating the hybrid workplace, which is centered around flexible working conditions. With the hybrid workplace model, facility managers have to determine how best to integrate flexibility into everyday office operations both for the immediate and the long-term. 

facility planning

Facility management and employee experience

A significant part of facility management is fostering a positive employee culture and experience, which includes creating spaces for collaboration and deep work. Alternately, it can include introducing alternate work environments like neighborhoods and flexible working. In a nutshell, facility managers aim to design work environments for employees to thrive. 

To do this, many facility managers use office planning software to help plan their space. Office planning software not only gives facility managers a clear look at how best to arrange departments and furniture, but also even when it’s time to consider another property or a move long before one is needed. 

Facility management and daily workplace operations

In addition to planning, forecasting, and creating office environments fit for productivity, facility managers are responsible for daily workplace operations. This includes tasks like managing building requests, desk and room booking requests, and employee move requests. 

Facility managers keep a tight ship, but it’s imperative to the overall success of the organization. 

Learn more about facility management.

Photos: Arlington Research, ThisisEngineering RAEng,