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World FM Day 2021 – Standing Tall Beyond the Pandemic

12 May 2021 | Updated 11 May 2022

World FM Day exists to celebrate facilities and workplace managers’ contribution to the built environment, and their influence on people’s wellbeing and productivity.

This year’s World FM day theme was announced as: “Celebrating FM: standing tall beyond the pandemic”, in tribute to a sector that became highly visible due to its crucial role in controlling the pandemic.

IWFM’s CEO Linda Hausmanis said of the announcement:

“The past year has seen our profession thrust into the spotlight like never before. From enabling the mass transition to homeworking to ensuring healthcare professionals can work in clean, safe environments, maintaining and securing buildings though empty of people, and more, workplace and facilities practitioners worldwide have played a key role in the response to this global crisis.”

We asked senior leaders working in the industry about their feelings on the role of facilities managers during the last year.


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The "Unseen Becoming the Noticed" 


Peter Carr, Head of FM at Commercial Estates Group, spoke about the “unseen becoming the noticed”:

“The value stock of FM was already high internally, however, doubtless in second place to the exciting world of deals making and new businesses we are creating. Then it stopped, and those left standing shouldered responsibility, keeping confidence high with the occupiers and leading from the front.

“I don’t think there’s an organisation across the UK, and likely the world, who now doesn’t understand the true value of FM.”

Jake Matthews, Head of FM (South) at Grainger PLC, spoke about there being more mainstream conversations interlinking the economy, our recovery and sustainability:

“The FM industry can have a large impact on not only the procurement of green supplies, but also the reduction in demand for electricity and optimisation of HVAC systems. With greater focus on investment within this sector and more R&D projects becoming more mainstream, it’s up to our industry to keep up with the pace of change, through training and engagement with our engineering colleagues.”


“I don’t think there’s an organisation across the UK, and likely the world, who now doesn’t understand the true value of FM.”

–Peter Carr

Head of FM, Commercial Estates Group


Simon Booth, Head of Premises & Facilities at Moore Kingston Smith saw FM as showing its worth in supporting businesses and organisations through the biggest crisis most have faced in their history:

“It’s been an opportunity again for the industry to show its value to many areas of operations. Cleaning and hygiene have never had such high visibility, the provision of COVID-secure workplaces, the risk to key workers and those who can’t work from home, the demands of people of what they will want from their workplace going forward, these are all conversations that FMs have been involved in and leading from the front.”




ThisWeekinFM Partners


We also spoke to some of our partners, to discover their thoughts on FM's role in 2020/21. Here's what they told us:


“The role of a facility manager has always been crucial, and its importance only grew during the pandemic."


– Cody Stahl
Facilities Project Manager, EnviroKlenz


Growth in Responsibility 


Cody Stahl, Facilities Project Manager at EnviroKlenz, feels that the role of the facility manager has become vital in restoring employee confidence and safety.

“The role of a facility manager has always been crucial, and its importance only grew during the pandemic. As businesses are eager to reopen their doors, the facility manager is the one person who can ensure that this is done properly and safely. From an indoor air quality standpoint, we have seen FMs really step out of their comfort zone to learn about technologies available and cost-effective solutions to solve one of the biggest problems they are facing to reopen: the quality of their indoor air.

Here at EnviroKlenz, we have been working closely with FMs not only in implementing these solutions, but also in bringing awareness regarding our industry. Thank you to the facilities managers across industries, we have been able to support the reopen efforts of hundreds of businesses across the globe.”


People are Key


Edward Wick, Founding Director of Penguin FM explained how their team stepped up throughout the pandemic to support their clients, particularly those in the health and care sectors.

“2020 really pushed us, both as an organisation and as an industry as a whole and FM has proved to be the silent support partner for so many different sectors, especially healthcare, retail and hospitality, where organisations have been immensely challenged and forced to react to issues they've never previously encountered. 

FM companies like Penguin FM have been that constant throughout and during the pandemic - we’ve been busier than ever and I’m really proud of how our teams went above and beyond to support our clients, whilst maintaining safe and secure working practices for everyone involved."


"The FM manager became the ‘hero of the hour’ for businesses up and down the country over the last year. As companies rewrote their business plans, FMs provided vital support in many areas across the business." 

–Karen Moule

UK B2B Marketing Manager, Europcar Mobility Group UK 


FM Manager Became "Hero of the Hour"


Karen Moule, UK B2B Marketing Manager at Europcar Mobility Group UK spoke about FMs as becoming the "hero of the hour":

"The FM manager became the ‘hero of the hour’ for businesses up and down the country over the last year. As companies rewrote their business plans, FMs provided vital support in many areas across the business. 

“Here at Europcar we are proud to support these FM heroes by offering vehicle solutions that help them to adapt successfully to the new business landscape. As we return to what we hope will be more normal times, our comprehensive product offering continues to provide the support needed for a cost-effective and flexible fleet, as well as providing the FM with peace of mind that their drivers have access to safe, technologically advanced and reliable vehicles.”


The Role of Touchless Technology


Will Hardie, Sales Director at Security Assured told us about the importance of touchless control access systems reducing the effects of COVID-19:

"Security Assured are a young company with the security industry, but our modern methods and dynamic approach have enabled us to be on the “front foot” when responding to customer requirements. Our workload in 2020 continued to grow despite the pandemic, working with FM suppliers to provide fire / intruder alarm installation and monitoring and maintenance packages within large office or construction projects in and around London all successfully completed on time and on budget.

"The ability to be flexible to Customers requirements has enabled us to offer touchless access control systems, reducing the effects of COVID-19. As the UK slowly returns to a new normal, Security Assured will continue working with new and existing FM partners, delivering installations, servicing and monitoring across the UK."


Returning to Work Safely


Terry Wilcock, HSE Director at PTSG spoke about the effect of COVID-19 on working practices:

"For any ‘front line’ service provider, the pandemic posed the further challenge of how to return its staff to work safely. This included the construction sector and its significant FM supply chain.

"PTSG responded as quickly as it was able by developing its training portal to enable colleagues to return to work amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The vision and rationale were to prepare staff to be ready for a safe and controlled return to work on 27th April 2020 – just six weeks after the first lockdown was implemented by the government.

"PTSG remains fully operational and as the lockdown restrictions continue to be eased, and as more and more people receive the vaccination, the Group looks forward to playing its part in helping the economy to recover."


Flexibility and Resilience 


Jeff Alden, Group Strategy & Development Director at SEE Services told us about how the last year has made the industry more resilient:

“Throughout 2020/2021 never has facilities management been more crucial to infrastructure, keeping each and every country going.  With the unknown and everchanging circumstances of a worldwide pandemic, it has been challenging and a learning experience for all.  If anything, it has only made the industry more flexible and resilient than ever before.

"We have seen healthcare facilities built at rapid pace and a record number of premises being decommissioned and recommissioned keeping them safe and secure.  New technologies and systems have been installed, and additional measures have been created to help keep workspaces and public areas stay clean and safe. 

"All of us should be proud of our achievements and on World FM day I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you and well done to everyone in the industry.  Whilst we are still navigating our way through these demanding times, let’s look forward to building a much brighter and better future together.”

Picture: a photograph of some city skyscrapers

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 12 May 2021


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