We’ve all heard it. “Facility management (FM) is a profession that encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure functionality, comfort, safety and efficiency of the built environment by integrating people, place, process and technology.”
That’s how the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) defines it, and it’s pretty accurate.
But… it sounds kind of boring, doesn’t it? Let’s try again.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), for instance, defines it as an “organizational function which integrates people, place, and process within the built environment with the purpose of improving the quality of life of people and the productivity of the core business”.
Wow. How can a profession so critical, so action-packed and so surrounded with chaos sound so dull?
How about taking a look at how Facilities Managers themselves describe their jobs?
That’s exactly what IFMA set out to do on LinkedIn, with an interesting query for FMs: “Tell us you’re a facility manager, without telling us you’re a facility manager”.
As promising as it sounds, the results exceeded all expectations. Here are some of the most interesting replies.
“I am a modern day SUPERHERO, protecting you and your building assets everyday! When you are in trouble, any kind at all, you don’t hesitate to call me because you know I will quickly but safely swoop in and save the day! I’m just a phone call, text or email away! Your friendly, technical FM!”
“We make people feel great, supported and efficient, wherever and whenever they work.”
“I create innovative, dynamic environments for people to enjoy while they innovate, collaborate, connect, and thrive!”
“I lead in a variety of ways — technically, socially, during times of crisis, and during change. All the while, I must control costs and improve service. My leadership occurs in all directions: downward to staff, sideways to colleagues and upward to senior management.
I have the responsibility to develop the department into a professional operation, train and retrain staff, establish procedures and conduct quality assurance and performance management. I must have Aristotle’s logic and Solomon’s wisdom, a priest’s discretion, and a gambler’s poker face, a lawyer’s shrewdness and a marketing director’s charm, a gladiator’s guts, a marathon runner’s perseverance and a sprinter’s speed, a leatherneck’s toughness and a dancer’s agility, lots of good luck and 30 hours per day.”
“The Phantom who serves at low profile round the clock without seeking any attention to ensure no disruption to normal Operations in the Facility .. sometimes we have to reveal our identity and go public to contain emergencies :)”
“I put in practice all my experience in managing clients’ infrastructures, so that they’re operated cost-effectively, preventing failures, expenses and downtime, ensuring conservation and sustainability of the infrastructures, from a resource-optimisation perspective. It’s our job to make the client feel we’re “inside” their organisation.”
“I help to provide a safe physical environment for all who walk through the doors to the building. I see the invisible, believe the unbelievable, and accomplish the impossible.”
“The buildings team with life. The HVAC are their lungs. The electricity their bloodline. My office their heart. And the staff… the staff are my family.”
“To be an FM is to manage all components of an enterprise, ensuring the ideal balance between the users’ needs, such as health, wellbeing, comfort, safety and high availability. At the same time, we ensure operational efficiency, economy, sustainability, social responsibility and governance at all levels and for all processes and teams, through the enterprise’s whole lifecycle.”
“I support my organisation achieving its core objectives and our staff in the performance of their duties via optimizing their work environment and support services, and sometimes making the impossible possible. No… I’m not a magician but I can see why you may get confused!”
“I’m the built environment’s best kept secret! I make people comfortable, feel safe, and productive wherever I am. Supporting organizations to achieve operational excellence makes me a strategic partner to every industry.”
“To me, a facilities manager is a maintenance figure, someone who can coordinate all maintenance works within a company, knowing multiple trades and their associated costs.
When FM is done right, the company saves money, provides a good service and reduces the number of incidents within its facilities, besides improving the quality of the facilities themselves and the assets inside them.”
“The lights are on, it’s warm in winter and cool in summer, magically your access card works everyday, the coffee machines are full and the dishes done and packed away, your bins are empty and clean and the bathrooms sparkle in every building on every floor, the numerous plant rooms and chillers chug away without any weird noises and the access gates let you in and out all day and night long. The lawns and grounds are green and lush and the walking path weed and leaf free… silent magic…”
“I take care, assist and understand people.”
“When people are on duty, our support is required. When people are off-duty, it’s time to execute planned jobs. We work behind the scenes and others get the credits. Do you know who we are?”
“I keep 98700m2 clean, lit, ventilated. 4000 staff rely on me to keep them safe and comfortable daily. I keep 23 lifts and 4 escalators running. I ensure 10 speedstiles and 10 receptions are staffed and PCs supplied. 3 revolving doors, 30 roller shutters work, bins are cleared and waste removed. I accommodate 10000 visitors daily. I ensured you had 188 hand sanitizers when you returned from lockdown. I write tenders, RFQs, project manage, collaborate, innovate solutions to problems, keep 6 rooftop gardens maintained, manage 1500 parking bays, coordinate emergencies, ensure 800 toilets flush and have toilet paper, hand basins have hand soap, roller towel and water, ensure 60 E-boils and 100 water coolers work, replace windows that crack, I listen when you are hot and your neighbor is cold, I provide beverage services for approximately 600 people Monday to Friday. I ensure the 25000 litre diesel bowser is fuelled. 120 cleaning staff are present and correct, security is deployed, communication is upheld, CRM is working, customers are happy, budgets are managed, 5 fountains are working, maintained, cleaned. Events and filming requests managed. HR, compliance, space management, etc.”
“noun. [fa-ci-li-ty man-ag-er]
Responsible for the excellence of a triad formed by infrastructures, people, and operations.
An agile problem-solver, by nature, that turns into solutions, problems that you didn’t know you had, in ways that you wouldn’t think possible. Someone for whom problems are just challenges, to be overcome with spectacularity and where the impossible is just a temporary concept.
see also: wizard, magician, miracle worker”
“I have 24/7 Phone calls + WhatsApp messages from clients and Tenants/Owners, emails for each and single thing, and a happy face when things are being done in a professional way.”
“The ideal Facility Manager must have Aristotle’s logic and Solomon’s wisdom, a priest’s discretion and a gambler’s poker face, a lawyer’s shrewdness and a marketing director’s charm, a gladiator’s guts, a marathon runner’s perseverance and a sprinter’s speed, a leatherneck’s toughness and a dancer’s agility, lots of good luck and 30 hours per day … I think THIS said it all!”
Now THAT’S how you describe Facilities Management. While pretty varied in content and format, all these descriptions converge when it comes to the huge responsibility, skills, work, and outright wizardry it involves.
So, to close, here’s our own contribution to IFMA’s challenge — “FMs are constantly thinking about the wellbeing of everyone, working to make a thousand puzzle pieces work together, while trying to prevent (or fix) all kinds of problems even before anyone notices them. They are the invisible heroes that the world both needs and deserves.”
Now go do your magic!