Why and how the facility industry is changing? What are the biggest challenges in front of them? It was only after the introduction of International Facility Management (IFMA) in the early 1980s, the facility management was considered as an industry.
An increasing number of tasks have piled up on the shoulders of FM manager in past years. These tasks include safety, regulatory compliance, corporate policy and cost management. But, the volume of experts with mentioned skills is limited and getting shrunk. Moreover, the latest amenities and features provided in the latest societies have further expanded the role of facility management.
Earlier Facility Management
Nearly 15-20 years ago, managers used to have large offices with big desks with private bathrooms that required high attention and its access was limited to selected staff only. There was a personal secretary for everyone. Work was done on big and slow computers requiring large space. The one thing, which was readily available, was real estate. The costs of offices were reasonable and corporate footprints regarding the number of employees per sqft were large. Mostly, the work was done by hand using carbon copy books. If you were among the few unlucky guys without a personal secretary, then you had to hand over your work to a pool of secretaries that occupied an expensive space in the middle of the office. That was also the place of activity with a lot of ringing phones, noise of typewriters and people moving in and out.
The frequency at which given tasks got completed was considered as production. In order to ventilate the office premises, windows were kept open and loud fans were used to circulate the air. Dirt, pollen and dust were getting free entry through open windows. Open coil heaters were used in winters for warming the office premises. Tea and snacks carts were wheeled through the office premises for the refreshment of employees. The other role of the cart was to circulate physical mails from the basement to all other parts of the office. Employees used to work for eight hours and have lunch. You work there at your desk in the same building from the day of joining to the day of retirement. There was a lack of safety standard too.
Present Facility Management
Without any doubt, we can say that technology in the digital age has an esoteric impact on our work and lives. Mobile devices have helped us to enter into an era where employees are always in demand and never off it. Also, mobile devices have made all the workers more productive and independent. Now, we walk towards the coffee machine take our coffee, food is managed within the office, all these things facilitate us in our works while taking lunch. In the new era, secretaries have been replaced by administrative assistants taking care of all the work needed to run the organisation smoothly. The pyramid triangle in top companies has been replaced with ones that are shaped more likely as highways. Walls of history have been torn down. New offices are now often defined by a glass boundary in keeping with the current theme of transparency. Power hungry server rooms belching out the massive amount of heat are disappearing with the introduction of firewalls and corporate forensic units. Also, data storage is done in the cloud instead of heavy servers.
As per the new trend, the responsibility of both the employer and employee is increasing day by day. An employer needs to enable work from home and manage all the security, social media, digital resources and calendar coordination. The concept of office is going out of trend. We can also expect the disappearance of corporate landlines and desk with digitisation. Change is happening faster each year than a decade before. Individuals and companies are called out for not following new societal norms around environmental sustainability and workplace are zero tolerance zones for any form of discrimination. Transparency and visibility in every field of business are the new hallmarks of business conduct at each and every level. Companies are getting green by opting clean energy like wind and solar at workplaces. Analytics and big data are being used as weapons to break down competitors: if you can’t measure, you can’t manage.
While much has been changed over the last few decades, some things appear to be constant and will likely be part of the FM landscape in the decades ahead. For example, the questions that every FM operator asks, such as how can we reduce our footprint? Our utility costs? How can we reduce the impact on the environment? What can we do more efficiently? How can we better leverage technology? How much do we spend on this operation? The only thing likely to change is how we address these questions and measure their impact.