In the rapid-turnover corporate world it’s not always possible to make the case for long-term thinking about building systems. That’s why FMs need to do all they can to make sure their voices are heard.
Leaf through a broadsheet newspaper and alight upon an in-depth profile of a major company – what are you going to find? The chances are that you are will encounter plentiful commentary from founders, CEOs, finance directors and even external consultants. But input from facilities managers (FMs) – well, that’s likely to be in rather shorter supply.
Viewed from any number of perspectives it’s a state of affairs that makes little sense. By taking overall responsibility for the systems and processes that quite literally keep a business going, they play an underrated but fundamental role in determining the prosperity of a corporation. Identify an efficient and forward-looking FM and the chances are that you will be able to say the same of the company itself.
It therefore follows that there is a great deal to be said for FMs trying to actively raise the profile and awareness of the vital work they do. Rather than wilfully overlooking their activities, it may be that management – particularly at a senior level – is simply unaware of the impact that FMs can have on productivity and financial efficiency.
It is a sad fact of life that FMs can be often be shut out of meetings and decision-making processes to which they could make a valuable contribution. So sometimes persistence is the only way to go in terms of connecting with senior management. Ask to be involved in more exploratory sessions, or to join more strategy days. Once ‘inside the tent’, so to speak, it will be a great deal easier to raise the subject of facilities management – not just on a day-to-day level, but in a longer-term sense that means it is more likely to be factored into new projects and business change initiatives.
By anyone’s frame of reference these are uncertain times, and corporations are frequently to be heard quoted on the need for fresh ideas and approaches. Thinking more clearly about the buildings that underpin their success (or failure) represents fertile territory, so it’s beholden upon FMs everywhere to make sure that its importance is never underestimated again.