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How Facility Management Optimize Work Productivity

What is facility management?

Facility Management is an organizational function which integrates people, place and process within the built environment with the purpose of improving the quality of life of people and the productivity of the core business.” by IFMA Nigeria

International Facility Management Association (IFMA), an international association in charge of facility management defines facility management as a job that includes a variety of disciplines to ensure functionality of the built environment by integrating people, place, processes and technology.

This definition describes facility management to be the coordination of the operation of the facility that is intended to make the whole organization more effective at what it does so that the operation runs smoothly.

The primary function of facilities management however deployed, whether outsourced and inhouse, is to support the core business activities of an organization. The facility manager functions as an integral part of the core business interests of its client or management by reducing costs, maintaining business continuity, ensuring legal and regulatory compliance, supporting corporate social responsibility (CSR), and meeting end-user requirements.

The functions of facilities management have emerged at the top echelon of operational hierarchy. Reld et al (2015) in their study based on over 150 executives responsible for managing modern facilities shows how successful companies are beginning to see the inherent value in improving efficiencies and streamlining processes within the real estate and facilities functions to drive down operational costs, improve energy consumption and support sustainability objectives.

Facility management in workplace leads to a more supportive flow of productive processes while adding value and reduce costs. The scope, services, activities, responsibilities, skills and knowledge of facility management are intended to integrate existing organizational factors. (PATANAPIRADEJ, 2006).

As observed by practitioners, Facility Management (FM) is a broad-based field of study as it incorporates the principles of science, design and engineering technology, human resources, business administration, financial management, and health and safety in delivering optimal work productivity.

Traditionally, the role of Facility management is an integral concluding part of building construction to provide safety, security and comfort for users. More recently, real estate property investors and property owners have adopted Facility Management as a means of maintaining and increasing the market value of their real estate property over a short and long-term investment outlay. Property developers and home owners seek to maximize their return on investment and as such demonstrated interest in collecting and measuring data relating the day-to-day management of the Facility assenting to Peter Drucker’s quote “You can’t improve what you don’t measure.”

The Importance of Facilities Management

The field of facilities management in recent times have witnessed a major shift from the mere traditional back-office set of day-to-day operational activities to more robust functions delivering operational and strategic management functions.

Katie Martinelli (2018) identifies 4 vital part facilities management plays in day-to-day successful business operations, namely: Strategic planning, Managing day-to-day operations, Implementing and enforcing health and safety procedures and Organising maintenance, repairs and security of the building and premises.

Reld et al (2015) gathered that the most common attributes of facilities management is bottom-line savings, then it spreads through health/safety, companies image, productivity, corporate social responsibility and brand image.

Benefits of Facilities Management

The benefits of outsourcing facility management services are enormous, they allow the organization to focus on the core business, save costs and become more efficient, reduce overheads, enjoy staffing flexibility especially during seasonal demands, operational control, enhance continuity and risk management, develop internal staff through external knowledge sharing and eliminating recruitment appraisal and training costs.

N= 156 Source: Aberdeen Group, March 2014.

Advantages of outsourcing facility management services often outweighs the disadvantages however; decision makers should consider the merits and demerits in order to maximize the benefits of the outcomes.

Disadvantages of outsourcing facility management services may include loss of direct managerial control, can be costly for smaller organizations, threat to security and confidentiality, quality problems, loyalty issues.

Hiring a facility management professional or company may not work best for every space and every business. Before hiring management services for your property, it is quintessential to consider whether these disadvantages may apply to your situation.

What do Facilities Managers Do?

Facilities management may be provided inhouse or through third party outsourcing, the discipline is well summarized in the ISO standards (ISO 41001). From an administrative perspective, facilities managements works are classified into three distinctive groups: Strategic FM, Managerial FM and Operational FM – Alexander (1996); Chotipanich, (2002)

The job of the facilities manager (or FM: the two letters are applied to both the discipline and the practitioners) is typically quite diverse. The role varies widely but centers around the four main pillars of facility management: People, processes, the building, and technology.

Supporting people
  • Attracting, developing and retaining talents

  • Improve workplace efficiency and productivity

  • Catering and hospitality

  • Reception services

  • Health and safety

  • Communication

Establishing processes
  • Work order request management

  • Space management

  • Relocations and moving people internally within a building

  • Planned and emergency action planning

  • Legal and regulatory compliance

Facilities upkeep and building improvement
  • Repair, maintenance and building improvement (often shorthanded as ‘M&E’, mechanical and electrical services, but basically everything from ensuring the lifts work to managing the air-conditioning)

  • Fabric maintenance (keeping everything from furniture to floors and walls in good repair)

  • Environmental services, such as waste management and recycling

  • Cleaning

  • Security

  • Vendor management

Integrating technology
  • Researching and integrating IoT devices and solutions

  • Data collection, analysis and utilization

  • Deploying integrated workplace management systems

These activities are often lumped into two categories: ‘hard FM’ and ‘soft FM’. Hard FM relates to anything to do with a building, essentially M&E and fabric maintenance, whereas soft FM is anything to do with people, such as catering, cleaning, security, health and safety etc.

How Does Facilities Management improve Productivity?

Having efficaciously described what facility management is, its functions, the importance and attributes of facilities management services, it is therefore significant to discuss how to deploy your FM services. They way we do business are fast changing, hence the method or how your facility manager delivers their functions should be rapidly adjustive to changes and will ultimately determine the overall outcome/productivity.

  1. Intelligent Analytics

  2. Computer-aided Facilities Management (CAFM)

  3. Technology and Automation

  4. Enhanced Strategic Facility Management Decision

  5. Healthy, Safe and Clean workplace

Intelligent Analytics

Your Strategies to improve productivity often focus on doing more with less. However, simply doing more doesn’t necessarily improve productivity, especially in the long-term. Instead, it’s important to understand exactly what needs to be done.

An intelligent analytics platform aims to continuously collects, organizes, and analyzes the vast volume of data generated by equipment and devices throughout your building. This gives you extraordinary visibility into building systems and provides to make informed decisions regarding maintenance efforts and efficiency strategies, better understand the status of facility equipment, carry out repairs rapidly, track progress towards goals and drastically reduce reliance on human intervention and change the nature of intervention.

Computer-aided Facilities Management (CAFM)

Computer aided facilities management is an effective solution for planning, executing and monitoring of all facility management activities. Recently, we have witnessed software automate invoicing, rent reminders, reporting, inventory and budgeting, snags or issues escalations and monitoring, Planned and Preventive Maintenance (PPM) scheduling, job orders management, task management, priority and time management modules in facility management software. This technological innovation allows all your documents to follow you wherever you go and also helps reduce costs and enhance customer service and greater efficiency in the workplace.

Technology and Automation

Integrated facility manager services is designed to manage compliance monitoring, visitors management and access control, stock ordering, SLA monitoring and service optimization.

Too much can’t be said about technology and how it is reshaping our world today. Technology in facilities management allows for flexibility, innovation and simplicity of processes when deployed circumspectly. Today, Internet Of Things (IoT) are deployed to help ease the day-to-day operational demands of facility management functions.

Automation, with the aid of ever-advancing smart technologies, has transformed the way facilities are managed. The benefits of automation primarily concern energy efficiency and creating better occupant or service users’ experiences. Access control, automated HVAC control, etc

When your system is automated, you worry less about certain routines and focus more on data gathering and monitoring. This optimizes your facilities management experience, reduces your operational activities, enhances better customer experience and ultimately saves time spent on maintenance, repairs, and managing occupant expectations.

Enhanced Strategic Facility Management Decision:

Facility Management requires goals and target setting at apex management body to achieve a sustainable facilities management Practices like adopting eco-friendly materials, embracing recycling options, alternative green energy, and active deployment of systems that facilitates reduction of wastages.

Healthy, Safe and Clean workplace

Improving the physical facility/site is one of the common functions of facilities management. This encompasses site management, planned preventive maintenance, reactive maintenance and repairs, asset management, equipment installation, commissioning, and handing, and overall facility preservation.

By simply making sure that the workplace is clean and tidy breeds a happy employee and happy employees are productive employees. Effective facility management company will deal with issues of housekeeping, waste management, janitorial services, landscaping, water management, power management, fire and safety management system, M&E systems, security services, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, sewage and waste water management, carparks, and other health and safety matters.

Benefits of Increased Productivity

The following are the benefits that can be derived from increased productivity:

  1. Effective utilization of resources results in increased production volume and lesser cost of production.

  2. Reduced time-to-market, better quality assured, and shorter response/turnaround time

  3. Less overhead costs

  4. More profits to stakeholders

  5. High value to customers and enhanced corporate image of the organizations

  6. Helps achieve overall growth and prosperity of the business

Top Challenges for Facilities Management

The challenges of facilities management vary depending on the size of the organization, region or country regulatory requirements, in house facility management, experience, independent or outsourced facility management company, etc.

Irrespective of size and location, this article will focus on the challenges for inhouse or in-sourced and outsourced independent facility management company.

In the report of Reld Et al (2015), 156 senior executives’ respondents were asked to select the top challenges they feel when managing facilities, their responses are given below:

Common Inhouse facility management challenges

  • No corporate commitment of leadership to support program

  • Lack of communication among cross-functional departments

  • Complex and disparate data sets present a significant road block

  • Insufficient resources with necessary skills and experience

Common Facility management company challenges

  • Poor customer performance reviews. This is sometimes caused by unclear Service Level Agreement (SLA) by parties and some reviewers may assess (appraise) the FM company based on the assumptions that certain service items are under the portfolio of the FM company.

  • Insufficient human resources with necessary skills and experience. The cost of attracting, hiring, retaining and motivating competent facility managers are high and they usually burden small facility management companies.

  • Inadequate funding for facility management services by the client. Especially in a growing economy, most of the clients have upper hands during contracts negotiations thereby forcing the hands of the facility management company to a certain level of service quality the client considers affordable and important. The reason for this is usually costs cutting strategy or profit maximization. This often result into poor quality service and overall facility degradation.

  • Fluctuating market forces and government policies. Facility management companies operate within certain local or national legislations and other market forces that affects prices and even technological innovations. This constantly changing forces impacts directly on the facility management budget, planning and forecast. In Nigeria, due to epileptic public power supply, there is high reliance on diesel usage to power most of the equipment on facilities around the country. Sometime in Q1 2022, the prices of diesel went high by almost 50%, and in next quarter, the price had tripled, causing a surge in the operating costs for power management and resulted in an unprecedented collapse of some facilities service or even an entire shutdown of some businesses within commercial facilities. On the other hand, fully serviced residential estates, the residents and residents’ associations battled with the humongous power related crises and in many cases, the facility management companies were held accountable and hard-pressed to deliver optimal and speedy solutions that will cater for the high power costs, equipment optimization, cost-effective and cost saving practical options, short term and long term strategic facility management answers that will help the facility to function with less reliance on diesel energies and alternative power sources.

  • Awkward Takeover and Acquisition. This is when property owners make a successful bid to assume control of the facility management team or company or terminates the contract of the facility management company but retains the staff or vendors to continue the provision of services under new management selected or appointed by the property owner. It is important to state that, apart from the commonplace setbacks that are inherent in this business decision, there is nothing bad in it if carried out legally and morally. That notwithstanding, the outcome of this decision continues to present a huge challenge to most facility management companies in Nigeria as at today. As a growing profession, facility management service is sometimes practiced by both trained, skilled and not-so-skilled or unqualified persons in Nigeria. This trend unfairly implies that anyone can be appointed to man facility services operations and report to the owner of the facility or some group of owner’s representatives or stakeholders. As we know it, every business owner seeks to reduce costs and increase profits, and undoubtedly this approach of engaging direct labour to attend to critical services under the supervision of an individual or Engineer helps property owner to reduce cost and increase profit. For short-term objectives, the option is achievable on small sized facilities with less complex systems.

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In-House Versus Outsourcing Facilities Management: A Framework For Value-Added Selection In Sri Lanka Commercial Buildings. M.H.S. Ahamed, B.A.K.S Perera and I.M.C.S. Illankoon June 2013. Department of Building Economics, Univerisity of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka Retrieved from

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