Tackling global challenges through facilities management

Supportive, innovative, and central to business performance, facilities management (FM) makes a vital contribution to the success of any organisation.

Beyond that though, FM is also on the cusp of an even greater opportunity - to lead the workplace experience revolution, by addressing some of the biggest challenges of our generation. Ross Abbate, Mace Operate’s Chief Executive, explains how.

Facilities management determines how buildings function; from day-to-day activities, through seasonal cycles to entire asset lifetimes, to increase quality and support the very best workplace possible. But energy efficiency, supply chain and building strategies are just the start. When executed well, facilities management delivery creates not only a fundamental platform for success but a foundation on which businesses can thrive.

So, that said, from assisting and enabling businesses with well thought-out workplaces, to being at the forefront of improving staff wellbeing, a career in facilities management is rewarding in many ways. More than anything, FM is about making a tangible difference. But widening the lens, what impact can a career in facilities management have in addressing global challenges?

Retaining talent

A great facilities management team can literally transform the output of a business. And our sector’s best people are restless - constantly seeking to improve how things operate to support and enhance business performance excellence.

Workplace experience as a platform for attracting and retaining the best people has become a central focus in most industries since the pandemic and this change in pace of the evolution of the workplace is having an impact, with the BBC reporting recently that more employees are happier than ever.

Achieving this clearly creates a sense of accomplishment for those working in our teams, as well as reflecting how much they care. And that’s supported by recent data too - according to the latest Global FM People Experience Index, eight out of ten people working in facilities management want to stay in the sector long-term and are proud of their job. That pride is in no small part due to FM’s drive to protect the environment and avoid doing harm to our world.

Pursuing a sustainable world

We all need to make carbon savings and drive sustainability through everything we do – our future depends on it. A career in facilities management helps take this top priority forward.

By being at the heart of building operations, we know how to harness and run technology to ensure that managed services are delivered with precision, irrespective of changing trends in building occupancy levels.

At operational level, this can mean we deliver on this priority through measures to ensure that our clients make better informed decisions such as switching away from single-use plastic cups to re-usable glasses, to driving savings in water usage each year and using building sensor technology to control heating and light more efficiently in alignment with actual building-use. All these measures benefit the bottom-line and support our clients to meet their sustainability goals.

I could go on; there’s a long list of how we do this, and I’ve not even touched on the work our teams do with volunteering in their local communities. After 30 years in the industry, I still find our wider commitment to generating social value across the globe inspiring!

Shaping change

The world of facilities management is ever changing, and it has never been more important to re-think the best practice for running a building or a portfolio.

Data analysis and insights are used to enable evidence-based strategies and tailored solutions to our clients’ requirement. As a result, the industry appeals to professionals who like to dig into the detail, to disrupt things where needed and to help drive change.

Technology, and how we harness it to create a better end-user experience and make workplaces, and the processes involved in running them, smarter and less resource-intensive is an ever-present opportunity.

Whether that’s through reporting design that helps a client to understand their assets better, to introducing AI, new developments are constantly evolving and how our industry embraces change and turns it into action helps keep things interesting.

Beyond the building, people are at the heart of what we do

A career in in our sector goes beyond running a building. FM is about supporting a workplace experience and culture, it is manifesting business priorities into a physical space, supporting, and even enhancing, staff wellbeing, creating an environment for people to connect and collaborate in and for businesses to thrive in.

In an increasingly uncertain world, facilities management offers structured career development for people with a passion for the built environment. And the evolution of facilities management means there is a constant opportunity to learn. Whilst there’s a lot focus on buildings, utilities, amenities, design, and supply chain, what really sets the industry apart is its people focus – at Mace this is a big part of our ‘grow together’ priority.

As a collective, the FM sector must use this moment to take charge of nurturing emerging talent and provide our people with the opportunities for growth and mobility that they deserve.

It’s people that make places, and it’s people that use them – understanding this means that people really are at the heart of what we do in FM, creating a team spirit which, in my experience, makes this the best industry that you can work in.

This article was originally published in TwinFM.