Facility management plays a crucial role in maintaining the efficiency of the buildings irrespective of their type — residential, commercial, or industrial. By overseeing the operations and maintenance of these physical spaces, you can manage your day-to-day operations excellently, thereby enhancing the performance of your property.

As we all know, facility management can be classified into two types — soft facilities management and hard facilities management. Investing in both hard FM and soft FM is absolutely essential. As per the Workplace Regulations Act 1992, property owners ought to invest in facility management services to ensure the health, welfare, and safety of its occupants.

What are Hard Facility Management Services?

Hard facility management services (or Hard FM services) are those services that are related directly to the physical structures of your buildings. These are usually non-negotiable and ensure workforce and workplace safety. They are typically mandated by law to ensure the occupants’ safety and well-being.

Some of the most crucial hard FM services are:

What are Soft Facility Management Services?

Soft facility management services (or Soft FM services) are those services that are responsible for improving the well-being and security of the occupants of the building. These services are typically responsible for making the environment more pleasant, comfortable, and welcoming for its occupants as well as visitors.

Some of the most common soft services include:

  • Cleaning service
  • Pest control
  • Landscaping
  • Interior design and decorating
  • Catering services
  • Mail and courier management
  • Waste management
  • Car parking and maintenance

Key differences between Soft and Hard Facility Management Services

Soft services and hard services in facilities management differ in several key aspects:

  1. Soft Services are people-oriented and involve tasks related to aesthetics, comfort, and occupant experience. On the other hand, hard services are technical and infrastructure-focused, dealing with the physical and mechanical aspects of a facility.
  2. Soft services primarily aim to enhance the well-being and comfort of building occupants. They focus on creating a pleasant and safe environment while hard services prioritise the functionality, safety, and integrity of the building’s physical structure and systems.
  3. Soft services directly impact the daily lives and experiences of building occupants, contributing to their satisfaction and overall well-being while hard services are critical for ensuring the safety and reliability of the facility. When these services fail, it can disrupt occupant comfort and safety.

Although hard and soft services are different in nature and cater to various aspects of facility management, they can complement each other to create an efficient facility management strategy. This interdependence of soft and hard services will result in a healthy and pleasant workspace.

For example, hard services like lighting systems will create a comfortable work environment. But when it is combined with soft services like cleaning, it will result in a pleasant workspace. Similarly, you can invest in soft services such as security systems and pair them up with access control devices or biometric access to make facility access more secure.

Managing your Soft and Hard Facility Management Services

So far, it seems like we’re describing the classic duel of machine vs. Man. There’s just one catch: if you let your equipment fail, you can’t assure the safety and well-being of those who use them either. That’s why hard services are essential and impossible to exclude from your annual budget, no matter how much it implies sacrificing well-being.

Still, you should set aside a slice of the budget for each type of service. We suggest you conduct a Facility Needs Assessment to understand which services are expendable and which aren’t, taking into account the needs of your team and the specifics of your business. These are the questions you should ask when you’re allocating your budget:

  • Is this service essential for the company’s operation?
  • Is this service regulated by any authority?
  • If I suspend this service, are there any security risks?
  • If I suspend this service, will there be losses for the company?
  • Is this service key to customer satisfaction?
  • Does this service make the team’s daily activities easier?
  • Is this service efficient and does it fulfil the purpose for which it was implemented?
  • Is it possible that this service is duplicated?

We can give you a little clue to improve the management of so many different services: use an Intelligent Maintenance Management Platform. When you gather all operations on a single platform, from the most specific preventive maintenance orders to cleaning requests, you’ll save resources and get a global overview of everything that goes on in the building.

The team at Briostack points out that tasks like pest control management should be continuous, and many other tasks, like building and cost maintenance, are the same. If you let things get out of control, you’re going to be spending more time and money fixing the problem.

Next, create a structured facility management plan by considering your facility’s requirements and their impact on the overall operations. Cover all aspects of your facility, such as interior design, lighting system, furniture organisation, and more.

Take into consideration sustainability and invest in eco-friendly materials. Revise your facility management plan on a timely basis to ensure it stays updated as per the changing business landscape.

What are the goals of soft vs hard services?

Hard FM Goals

Hard FM services come with a heavy load of preventive and predictive maintenance.

✅ Avoid unplanned stops and maintain a certain level of service;

✅ Managing costs;

✅ Increasing compliance;

✅ Extending the life of each asset and maximizing its ROI;

✅ Preventing work accidents.

In short, these hard services have a stronger impact on the core business and cost control.

Soft FM Goals

On the other hand, soft services do not have a direct impact on the company’s profits or losses – well, with the possible exception of cleaning services, because we are quite sure that you’d lose all of your clients if they started sneezing as soon as they step in, from all the accumulated dirt and dust. 

✅ Comfort;

✅ The well-being of your team;

✅ Making them feel valued, even if it doesn’t have an immediate impact on business performance.

It is worth remembering that smart buildings, which rely on soft services, are a trend in Facility Management – in addition to a talent retention strategy.

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Outsourcing Soft and Hard FM Services

Finally, another issue that is almost as classic as the duel between machine and Man. After all, what services can you (or should you) outsource in maintenance?

As we’ve already established on this blog, every maintenance service, whether that’s a soft or a hard service, can be outsourced. Outsourcing hard FM services – as they require a great deal of specialization – is extremely common. A good example is the usual maintenance contracts for HVAC equipment and lifts.

However, in this type of specific service, everything depends on the needs of your company. If you have equipment running 24/7, it makes sense to have maintenance technicians always available on-site, even if you sometimes need to call on subcontractors. As with almost everything, you should weigh the pros, the cons, and the budget.

For soft services, it depends once again on your type of business. In a hotel, for example, there are more benefits to hiring cleaners than outsourcing it. In an office building, that’s probably not the best idea. So this is where you can play with your budget and with various levels of service.

Understanding the difference between soft vs hard services can simplify your life and maintenance schedule – and you already know that we love simplicity! If you want to know more about Infraspeak’s intelligence maintenance management platform, talk to one of our experts!

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