A common misconception of facility management is that it is largely concerned with replacing light bulbs and general maintenance. While maintenance is relevant, facility management has evolved beyond areas like that. Today, it has more in common with User Experience Design, focusing on creating positive interactions and addresses all aspects of how a workplace is used by the occupants. However, in the same way that great art looks effortless, great facility management does too. It requires strategy, considered planning, and communication with the demand organisation (the company that the FM department works for or who has contracted with a facility management service provider) to create a great workplace that changes with the needs of the business.
Our goal as facility management service providers is to create great workplace experiences that support our client’s business goals and are sustainable. Our focus on creating great places to work extends to our involvement in the development of the new internationally recognised standards for facility management, ISO 41001. Contributions in recent years to the development of the ISO standard for facility management have come from many industry practitioners and experts. Consequently, it has been developed with the real-world concerns and ideas of those who make facility management their business.
Why the new standard matters to the demand organisation
The pandemic continues to have an undeniable effect on business and has drawn attention to the important role of facility management when organisations had to act quickly to shut their workplaces down. Facility managers stepped into the breach to ensure that buildings were maintained while their occupants were working remotely. Moreover, they are working to ensure that employees will be safe on their return.
The ISO 41001 standard has come at an opportune time as it offers a framework and a process approach to facility managers to better identify the needs of their stakeholders especially during uncertain times. Currently facility managers may be facing questions from their demand organisations about occupancy levels, real estate, and financial issues. A strategically and well-maintained workplace serves to attract and retain highly skilled employees; it provides a framework for the continuous improvement of a workplace and works with the demand organisation to meet their present and future needs. Creating a great place to work has really been brought into sharp focus by the pandemic as the emphasis on cleanliness, safety and the design of the workplace have become important for returning employees.
ISO 41001 illustrates a way of integrating policies and measures within the demand organisation with those of facility management. Integration of these two areas allows for facility management to better support the goals of the demand organisation. Additionally, it allows them to work strategically and communicate with their counterparts within the organisation.
Figure 1 How facility management aligns with the demand organisation’s strategy (Source ISO 41001)
Developing the ISO standard for facility management has taken several years and although it has been hard work, it has been a positive experience for all involved. The enthusiasm and diversity of participants reflected how facility management has broadened its role in demand organisations. Additionally, the development of the new group of standards helps to advance the strategic role FM plays in of an organisation.
Acacia’s managing director, David O’Brien, is a member of TC 267, the technical committee that is responsible for developing the ISO 41000 suite of standards. He has been involved in standards development for the last seven years and emphasizes the importance of Ireland having a voice in the development of the standards. When speaking to him, he said that he looks forward to
“…more professionals becoming involved in standards development. Standards are developed by people in the industry for the betterment of the entire industry. It is a great way to learn from other professionals across the world as well as developing a global network of fellow professionals.”
He went on to say “The word ‘expert’ is often used to describe those of us on the TC however, in my opinion this often puts people off volunteering for the committees as they feel that they haven’t the experience to be an ‘expert’. We need to attract younger professionals to the standards so that they help develop a standard for the future and one that they own throughout their career therefore if the word ‘expert’ is a concern to anyone considering being involved in the standards don’t let it“
The newly developed group of standards strategically aligns the workplace services with the future needs of the demand organisation. The future requirements of an organisation require strategic consideration. This means that developing a facility management strategy in tandem with a business strategy covers a range of strategic areas including governance, risk management, stakeholders, scope of services, structure, sourcing, outputs and targets and budgetary requirements. Aligning the demand organisation strategy with the facility management strategy allows an FM to improve efficiency in the delivery of facility management and is proactive not reactive. It also reduces the likelihood of disconnection between the objectives of the demand organisation and the needs and means to support them. Frequent communication and coordination with the senior management of an organisation help to bring to life a workplace that meets the needs of a business.
Make your voice heard!
The development of standard 41001 required the responses of many professionals from different cultures and offers an occasion for other specialists to contribute. Specialists from a range of areas take part in technical committees each year and give the opportunity to learn and discuss their viewpoints on facility management. The ever-evolving nature of facility management means that the types of experts that are required is changing. The pandemic has pushed technology to the forefront of facility management and has shown that technology is essential for effective FM. As a result, the ISO NSAI technical committee requires the assistance of technologists. This is only one example of the types of knowledge contributions that are needed for creating a global ISO standard.
Connecting with international FM or FM related professionals not only gives a voice to those in the industry as a representative of your profession but also gives you an opportunity to advocate for your clients and other stakeholders and to discuss important points of your chosen specialty.
Being part of the technical committee is an opportunity to rub shoulders with people in the industry and those whose knowledge and experience are becoming increasingly relevant to facility management. Our last in person event was hosted by Acacia in the Guinness Storehouse and offered a chance for members from across the world to meet in person. We are looking forward to hosting these events again in the future.
The NSAI are looking for additional contributors and specialists to participate to the technical committee over the coming years. If you are interested in contributing to the development of this new group of standards or would like to find out more about ISO for Facility Management click on the link About (iso.org) or contact the NSAI directly at firstname.lastname@example.org