Working in a diverse industry with various disciplines to choose from
Good facilities management is important for all types of organisations such as schools and government, businesses, non-profit set ups, entertainment venues and more. The basic role of facilities management is to ensure all buildings and associated areas are clean, safe and meet the needs of those who work there along with visitors.
The role may entail coordinating a wide range of support aspects or specialisation such as, for example, organising cleaning and janitorial services. You could work for a company or organisation in a facilities management role or for a third party providing facilities management for a roster of clients who outsource it.
Some enter the profession at a younger age – straight from school or college perhaps – while it’s possible for others to take up a facilities management role later in their working life. For example, someone who has worked in the police force may specialise in handling security facilities management for a larger company or organisation.
The various roles in facilities management
Large organisations have various tasks in ensuring they’re operating properly, and facilities management can cover all or some of them depending on the way the work is organised. The role may be referred to in different ways including ‘business services,’ ‘support services’ or ‘contracts management’ to name a few.
Entry points to the profession are possible from various directions – there’s no specific academic requirement – and certifications can be procured for those who progress in the industry. The professional body, the BIFM, has further details and is a good resource for information.
A basic requirement for organisations and, depending on their business type, essential as in the case of those involved in food preparation and in a medical facility such as a hospital.
Cleaning can be a specialism, and it may be the job for a facilities manager to organise in house cleaner training so they can clean to the required standard along with ensuring all supplies and equipment is ordered and re-ordered at the appropriate times.
It’s common to outsource certain aspects of cleaning if it’s a specialism or needs to be undertaken out of hours when areas aren’t in use. For example, third party industrial kitchen cleaners may be enlisted to provide this and maybe other specific cleaning services.
A facilities manager would likely be responsible for engaging third party suppliers and agree on the scope of their work in terms of what services they would be asked to provide and when.
Health and Safety compliance
Organisations have to comply and adhere to specific Health and Safety regulations and practices, so having the right people in the right place to cover this as their job or part of their job along with organising the appropriate training is a part of facilities management.
While larger organisations may well have a dedicated transport manager, this can fall under the remit of facilities management. For example, organising the transport of people and maybe equipment from one site to another and maintaining onsite car parking facilities could be part of the job.
Fire prevention and safety
Ensuring fire prevention facilities and equipment is in full working order along with ensuring training is kept up to date often falls under facilities management. While a fire safety officer may be in place to handle the day to day aspects, facilities managers may well find themselves orchestrating fire safety procedures, ensuring fire safety signs are in place, and liaising with appropriate staff.
General operations and supplies
Just the day to day running of a larger premises or work site takes considerable facilities management efforts including these examples:
- Booking space such as meeting rooms and lecture theatres
- Maintaining and scheduling appropriate supplies for vending machines
- Resolution of issues with equipment such as IT; ensuring correct support is organised
Ensuring aspects such as the above run smoothly helps an organisation function properly without wasted or down time.
If an event that may cause an interruption of everyday activities and productivity is planned, or occurs out of the blue such as a general power outage, then keeping things moving and minimising the loss of productive business time is a vital part of facilities management.
For example, migrating to new IT systems could cause an upheaval so it’s important for facilities management to liaise with departmental staff to plan a way forward while the transition takes place.
Organising and maintaining security equipment such as CCTV, alarms and locks is part of facilities management as is ensuring staff are fully trained up. If some or all of security is outsourced, a facilities manager would ensure the supplying company is fully aware of the role they’re expected to perform.
In house or outsourcing
Some facilities managers may spend much of their time liaising with in house staff, or maybe their organisation’s services are nearly all provided by outside suppliers such as Kent based Monitor Services who provide contract cleaning and pest control services to various clients in the South East of the UK.
Other companies outsourced to might specialise in security services as could training companies specialising in, for example, fire safety and maybe Health and Safety training courses.
Indeed, some companies actually outsource all their facilities management so it’s possible to work for a facilities management company who provide the service to a client base of several organisations.
A varied career and skills required
Facilities management can provide careers in various environments – mainly larger organisations – from a big commercial site to a shopping arcade or performance venue. Indeed, most places where ongoing support and organisation to help it function would require efficient and ongoing facilities management.
A raft of skills are used to make it interesting as a profession; organisational abilities such as project management, elements of budgeting, people skills and organising time are just some of the attributes required to ensure success in the role.