FM Consultant & Executive Coach Anne Lennox-Martin reflected on how far the profession has come over the last 40 years:
"After all, when FM first became recognisable, we had little in the way of technology and the on-call maintenance phone was the size of a brick and had to be carried around in a holster!"
– Anne Lennox-Martin
FM Consultant & Executive Coach
“Having a World FM Day demonstrates how far our profession has come over the last 40 years and makes me feel so proud to be part of the FM and Workplace journey. When I look back to the 80s, so much has changed, but never more so than this challenging post-COVID period we are facing right now. Apart from all the many areas around sustainability that FMs are required to implement or are involved in; there is a real question over whether the workplace as we know it now, is sustainable at all? Or will fundamental changes paint a landscape we can’t even imagine yet?
“After all, when FM first became recognisable, we had little in the way of technology and the on-call maintenance phone was the size of a brick and had to be carried around in a holster!
“Our only certainty is that fundamental change will come, and that FMs will be at the forefront of adapting flexible options to protect our way of life and our planet, thus ensuring a positive future for our children and grandchildren.
“I suspect that wellbeing and managing data will need to be high on our agenda for the next 40 years! Respect and greetings to all who work in our sector, all over the world. I salute you!”
Picture: a photograph of John Dearing. Image Credit: EQUANS
John Dearing, Bidding Director for EQUANS UK & Ireland, also recognised a huge shift in the sector:
“I’ve had the pleasure of working within the FM space for 15/20 years and it’s remarkable to have witnessed such a shift in the sector around sustainability within that timeframe. Energy efficiency was effectively an add-on, not a prerequisite, and within a few short years, this culture shift and realisation really took hold and monumentally changed the way we worked
“It started slow and very transactional – small things like meter readings or LED lights – to a place where decarbonisation has manifested as a priority in procurement.
"For me personally, the decarbonisation, energy and biodiversity elements of my role, allows me to look my son in the eyes – knowing I am doing my part to leave the world in a better state than I joined it. If you really want to make a practical change in the world – then this is the career for you."
The Link Between Sustainability and FM
Adam Fahn Facilities, H&S and Data Consultant at Ministro FM concurs that sustainability and facilities management are inextricably linked:
“I’m involved in sustainability initiatives daily. Waste is often a big part of our world. Working with colleagues in operational roles we support them in managing and minimising waste and again, costs. There is an exciting future for the waste management industry, particularly with services and technologies for recovering useful resources from waste.”
Pradyumna Pandit, MD of Sustainability and Energy Services at Mitie, admits that the link between FM and sustainability isn’t always an obvious one:
“One of the most pressing challenges of our time is tackling the climate crisis. While people may not automatically link facilities management with decarbonisation, with our experience managing thousands of workplaces and ensuring that they’re run as efficiently as possible, our sector is at the front line of the green transition and ideally placed to help other organisations move to net-zero.”
Technology for Impactful Change in FM
Katie King, CEO of AI in Business, points out that FMs will need to use their influence to champion technology’s role in helping us to reach our sustainability goals:
“If sustainability is top of the list of priorities, then digital transformation is close behind it. Yet the latter can be leveraged to help make sustainability initiatives attainable and more effective.
“As someone who has done a lot of work in the FM space and who has spent the past five years championing artificial intelligence (AI), I am so excited by the potential that technology brings to facilities professionals in order to help drive conscious, environmentally focused change.
“I think this shift will change the nature of the job for the better as well.
"Facilities managers have the opportunity to choose technology that can help further sustainability goals. For example, there are some great AI-based tools available that can help make better and more efficient use of a building’s energy resources, thus helping lower costs for the business while also reducing its footprint"
CEO, AI in Business
“Over the coming years, we can expect to see FM professionals tasked with things like choosing the right smart building systems and integrated technologies for their spaces. Facilities managers have the opportunity to choose technology that can help further sustainability goals. For example, there are some great AI-based tools available that can help make better and more efficient use of a building’s energy resources, thus helping lower costs for the business while also reducing its footprint. There’s just so much potential to use technology to create impactful change, and I think FM professionals are well-positioned to be a driving force behind that.”
Shumon Choudhury, Residential Property Manager for Lendlease Europe feels that the FM industry is an undervalued sector, the role of an FM is not understood fully and appreciated to the level it warrants:
“Stakeholders expect everything to operate seamlessly with very minimal downtime without genuinely realising the challenges of building management.
“Generally, FMs are proud, hardworking, and strive to provide that seamless experience without expecting any recognition or gratitude as it is seen as their duty.
“World FM Day should be viewed as a day for all of us who use the built environment to pay our thanks to FMs, who facilitate an environment where we either flourish professionally or relax in our spare time. A colleague once described FM as the engine room of any organisation; I am yet to find a better description."
Residential Property Manager, Lendlease Europe
“It takes a particular type of individual to want to work in this industry; they are typically resilient, innovative, problem solvers, customer-focused and fully committed to creating/maintaining a safe and functional environment.
“World FM Day should be viewed as a day for all of us who use the built environment to pay our thanks to FMs, who facilitate an environment where we either flourish professionally or relax in our spare time.
"A colleague once described FM as the engine room of any organisation; I am yet to find a better description."
Making Sustainable Procurement Choices
Elisabete Wells, Marketing Director, at ACCO UK sees FMs as having the power the create sustainable change through procurement:
“Facilities pros should be looking for any little swaps they can make to keep moving forward. It might seem like an insignificant change, but introducing sustainably made, eco-friendly, and long-lasting products is a great action every facilities manager can implement today. On the supplier side, we’re doing all we can to help make this as easy as possible and to provide plenty of options to choose from by reducing our own waste and energy consumption, as well as reducing our packaging and using recycled or sustainably sourced materials like FSC paper whenever possible.
“More and more sustainable products enter the marketplace each day. It’s just a matter of facilities professionals being proactive and making a conscious effort to choose smarter options. This is an exciting time in the FM space because the power to create change is right in the hands of its professionals.”
An Awe-Inspiring Role
Picture: a photograph of Tarniah Thompson. Image Credit: SHW Property
Tarniah Thompson, Head of FM & Sustainability at SHW Property, sees World FM Day as an opportunity to celebrate the changing elements of her role:
“World FM Day is a significant day to highlight Facilities Managers (and jobs alike) of their contribution to the built environment. This is particularly important as an FM’s role and ‘reach’ has exponentially grown in the recent years. Following the pandemic their influence on people's wellbeing and productivity within the workplace has become vital as well as keeping buildings operational.
“I have personally seen a major shift in client demand for how FM is delivered, the focus is more on sustainable holistic service delivery with consideration to environmental impact.
ESG/Sustainability has been made more of a priority at leadership/board level agenda and it is fantastic to see this filtering down into how FM is being delivered and how much of an impact this has made to the kind of products/services we are now seeing in the market.
"Your FM will be putting the needs of others before themselves every day to ensure your organisation is well maintained, functioning, safe and inspiring. If the pandemic has shown us anything it is just how interconnected we are. FMs work well under pressure and will always be there in your time of need."
Director, Hosking Associates
Louise Hosking, Director at Hosking Associates, described the vital role of the facilities manager as “awe-inspiring”:
“An FM’s ability to deal swiftly with complex and multiple challenges whilst juggling demands from a vast array of stakeholders, with restricted budgets (because after all this isn’t a core function) is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
“World FM day is a day to reflect on the work facilities managers undertake 24/7 in a wide range of organisations to ensure the health, the safety and the wellbeing of those they serve is maintained to the highest standards.
“With a role so focused on others my challenge on this day for others is to consider how we are supporting them at a time when the global world of work is a constantly changing landscape, one where we are all expected to do more with less. Consider how your FM is juggling tight deadlines, extensive supply chains, long hours and complicated relationships where everyone else’s priorities are the highest and most important.
"Your FM will be putting the needs of others before themselves every day to ensure your organisation is well maintained, functioning, safe and inspiring. If the pandemic has shown us anything it is just how interconnected we are. FMs work well under pressure and will always be there in your time of need.
“As a colleague of mine once said no one will thank you for making sure the emergency lighting is working or that the service yards and car parks are well maintained, but perhaps we should all take a moment today to reflect on how those who make it so.”
Picture: a graphic showing various people with speech bubbles. Image Credit: PX Fuel
Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 10 May 2022
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