WORLD FM DAY: BUILDING WORKPLACE RESILIENCE AND DRIVING VALUE THROUGH THE PROFESSION

10th June 2015

It’s no surprise that the theme of resilience has been chosen as the focus for this year’s World FM Day. Despite many of the world’s economies continuing to show positive signs of recovery over the last couple of years, the themes of uncertainty and an accelerating world, be they political, economic, technological or social, continue to underpin the environment where we all now work and live. But when we think about resilience in relation to facilities management, it’s worth pausing to consider what this means for the FM profession and for the way we view facilities management now and how we see it developing in the future.

The universal definition of resilience is the ability to recover from adversity, however when we consider the definition for organisation resilience, as Wikipedia aptly suggests, although historically for organisations, this has been based on their ability to anticipate and prepare for and effectively respond to incremental change and disruption to survive and prosper, following the more challenging economic conditions of recent years, the concept is now viewed in a much wider sense. An organisation’s ability to sustain and prosper in today’s world is now driven by a variety of stakeholders and issues including, regulation, security, risk and the ability to be prepared for the future and if we really boil it down, this actually lies at the heart of what we do as facilities professionals.

Good facilities management provides the expertise to support organisations in building resilience 

If we return to the original principles of Facilities Management and the reason that the FM and outsourcing industries were born in the 1980s, the main objective was to enable the outsourcing of non-core services to allow organisations to focus on their core areas of expertise.

As a mature profession in itself, and one which touches so many people and places, we now see the FM profession in its simplest form as providing the right expertise to support the organisations that we work with, to ensure that their buildings and facilities remain well maintained, clean, safe, healthy and fully compliant. However as the debate grows around the workplace and the wider impact that facilities managers can have on the workplace and the working environment, this brings a whole new perspective to the view of resilience in FM terms.

When I consider how FM provides resilience to an organisation or a business, I often think of the analogy of a car. You take all of your money and take on a significant loan to buy a classic car as an investment for your family’s future. Do you:

  1. Attempt to maintain it with the basic knowledge and tools you have, knowing that it may or may not be safe to drive, it might de-value your vehicle and you could cause long term damage? Or…
  2. Do you get an expert to maintain your investment, look at it with pride and watch in grow in value?

And it is this concept of expertise and setting consistent standards to drive long-term value for an organisation which demonstrates the value of FM and how it supports future resilience. A number of examples spring to mind when considering how we do this;

  • Ensuring best practice and compliance with legislation and guidelines: Guidelines such as SFG20, Health & Safety and ACOPS change constantly. As an FM specialist, it’s our job to train and re-train our teams to ensure that we are constantly up to date with the latest best practice/legislation.
  • Fully trained and engaged workforce: Most cleaning operatives work across more than one company/contract. When just one company takes the time to train and engage them, this influences their performance across a number of clients’ facilities and workspaces and it is FM companies that put a focus on doing this.
  • Additional trained support when needed: When extra resource is needed for specific projects or periods of absence, as a facilities management company, we can ensure that our teams are fully trained, fully site inducted and fully vetted to provide the right level of support to the clients and teams that we work with when they most need it.
    These are just a few simple examples of how build resilience, but the list also includes the wider aspects of people, workspace utilisation, technology, security, sustainability and service quality to support a stronger organisation and ultimately create a great environment for people to work.

Facilities Managers as value creators in the workspace
As a profession we are now waking up to the idea that resilience in its wider sense is about the long-term value that we can bring to the workspace to support the organisations that we work with in sustaining the organisation for the future and getting the best from the people we employ and the places where we do business. The recent BIFM annual conference, ThinkFM, highlighted this, through the theme of how the workplace provides competitive advantage. In addition, the recent Workplace Conversation jointly hosted by BIFM and CIPD continues to debate this theme, as well as the growing amount of research in the area of workspace effectiveness, so the momentum is building.

Ensuring day to day resilience will always be a fundamental part of what we do as facilities management professionals, to effectively support the organisations we work with. The challenge lies in how we can look forward as professionals and as an industry to support those we work with in adding more value to create a high-quality workspace where people can thrive in the face of the ever-accelerating pace of change. For today though, let’s celebrate the fact that our profession does touch so many people in so many places right across the world and consider the positive impact that this has. Here’s to #WorldFMDay.

Mark Kirby
Operations Director – @AnabasFM_OpD

Image: Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_ideagu’>ideagu / 123RF Stock Photo</a>


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