Facilities managers (FMs) operate across business functions.
The number one priority of an FM is keeping people alive and safe.
Facility managers have to operate at two levels:
Strategically-tactically: helping clients, customers and end-users understand the potential impact of their decisions on the provision of space, services, cost and business risk.
- Operationally: ensuring corporate and cost effective environment for the occupants to function.
This is accomplished by managing:
EHS: Environment, Health and safety
The FM department in an organization is required to control and manage many environment and safety related issues. Failure to do so may lead to unhealthy conditions leading to employees falling sick, injury, loss of business, prosecution and insurance claims. The confidence of customers and investors in the business may also be affected by adverse publicity from safety lapses.
The threat from fire carries one of the highest risk to loss of life, and the potential to damage or shut down a business. The facilities management department will have in place maintenance, inspection and testing for all of the fire safety equipment and systems, keeping records and certificates of compliance.
Protection of employees and the business often comes under the control of the facilities management department, in particular the maintenance of security hardware. Manned guarding may be under the control of a separate department.
Maintenance, testing and inspections
Maintenance, testing and inspection schedules are required to ensure that the facility is operating safely and efficiently, to maximize the life of equipment and reduce the risk of failure. Statutory obligations must also be met. The work is planned, often using a computer-aided facility management system.
Cleaning operations are often undertaken out of business hours, but provision may be made during times of occupations for the cleaning of toilets, replenishing consumables (such as toilet rolls, soap) plus litter picking and reactive response. Cleaning is scheduled as a series of periodic (daily, weekly, monthly) tasks.
The facilities management department has responsibilities for the day-to-day running of the building, these tasks may be outsourced or carried out by directly employed staff. This is a policy issue, but due to the immediacy of the response required in many of the activities involved the facilities manager will often require daily reports or an escalation procedure.
Some issues require more than just periodic maintenance, for example those that can stop or hamper the productivity of the business or that have safety implications. Many of these are managed by the facilities management "help desk" that staff are able to be contacted either by telephone or email. The response to help desk calls are prioritized but may be as simple as too hot or too cold, lights not working, photocopier jammed, coffee spills, or vending machine problems.
Help desks may be used to book meeting rooms, car parking spaces and many other services, but this often depends on how the facilities department is organized. Facilities may be split into two sections, often referred to as "soft" services such as reception and post room, and "hard" services, such as the mechanical, fire and electrical services.
Business continuity planning
All organizations should have a continuity plan so that in the event of a fire or major failure the business can recover quickly. In large organizations it may be that the staff move to another site that has been set up to model the existing operation. The facilities management department would be one of the key players should it be necessary to move the business to a recovery site.
Space allocation and changes
In many organizations, office layouts are subject to frequent changes. This process is referred to as churn, and the percentage of the staff moved during a year is known as the churn rate. These moves are normally planned by the facilities management department using computer-aided design. In addition to meeting the needs of the business, compliance with statutory requirements related to office layouts include:
- The minimum amount of space to be provided per staff member
- Fire safety arrangements
- Lighting levels
- Temperature control
- Welfare arrangements such as toilets and drinking water
Consideration may also be given to vending, catering or a place where staff can make a drink and take a break from their desk.