Written By: Will Easton MBIFM
A freelance Workplace Management specialist helping SME and public sector clients apply strategic and operational management to facilities services. Through a positive, customer focused approach Will’s aim is to help make the workplace better through aiding successful design of workplace process, service improvements, innovation and safe environments.
When Chris asked me to write a short piece for SSIFM, I went through a variety of specific subjects I could really drill down on and that might hold the slightest chance of engagement with the reader. Risk management, business continuity, collaborative working, safety management and contract negotiations are all subjects that I meet in my freelancing career and each could be written about in great length, from many different view points and with a plethora of opinions from industry experts.
However, as Facilities Management can mean so many things to so many people, and some within the industry may argue it has somewhat of an identity crisis as it adapts to new ways of working and constantly changing business landscapes, I have decided to focus this brief spiel on the work that I carry out, how I approach it with my clients, whom, it seems, all have similar issues that they need assistance on.
The work I carry out is focused on SME’s and public sector bodies, where there may not be the gravitas for dedicated a Facilities Management professional, but gaps in the business strategy have been identified in relation to the physical work environment and they need somebody to come in and help establish a formula for the on going management practices in the workplace. Now, I must interject here with the fact I am NOT a consultant, nor do I want to be, my business model is based on the fact that I am not merely hired to carry out a job, take the money and run. I take great satisfaction in giving the organisation the tools to carry on the work and implement it in to the business as usual stage and want to ensure that once a project is finished I know the right people, process and practices are in place to ensure effective management going forward.
It is no surprise that so many SME’s and cash strapped public bodies struggle to include Facilities Management in their business strategy. You see, the organisations I work with don’t have the luxury of masses of cash to throw at a problem in some feeble hope that they’ll get a best in class solution, they are organisation that occasionally need to dip into the freelance market in order to bring in some short term resourcing solution for long term gain. Being aware of this need and knowing that large service providers may not be able to cater for this need, I am keen to get people in my clients organisations interested in the wider world of workplace management (time to drop the FM tag?) and give them the tools and skills to carry on my work once my contract has ended.
Currently, I am in the camp that believes contingent workforces will be a more dominant feature of the future work landscape and non core functions will be reliant on short term contractors to address specific problems and it is up to the industry to adapt to those changes. But we as freelancers in the Facilities Management world have a unique opportunity to demonstrate good business ethics and not only work for our clients but also educate them in the hope that one day we can aid their work and help bring a much needed identity to our own industry.
I have highlighted the plight of SME and public sector organisations and the importance of education and enabling those clients to run their Facilities Management services with minimal fuss or problems that brings me on to my apex of these notes. Education is the most important factor in the facilities management industry. With industry professionals helping and promoting, and even providing a more communal approach to their work with their clients they can promote the need for FM and hopefully bring in a the realisation that, although not always a core activity, FM provides a vital pivot to any organisation if it goes beyond the old school attitudes to a more collaborative, connected and innovative workplace.
Facilities management is so varied, that it can provide anyone currently in the industry or just starting out with a wide variety of opportunities and paths to go down. All they need to do is identify the needs of their clients and design their work to suit those needs.