Here at the third and last day of World Workplace Europe we got the chance to have a few moments with the IFMA Director of Academic Affairs, Steven Lockwood to discuss what makes an exceptional Facility Manager.
Get his key perspectives in our interview below.
Within the industry, we hear that the role of Facility Management and a Facility Manager in the workplace is changing at a tremendous pace. How would you characterize these developments?
We do hear that a lot and there is no doubt that things are changing at a tremendous pace. If you ask me however, I wouldn’t say that the role of Facility Management and a Facility Manager in the workplace necessarily has changed completely.
The basic concept of Facility Management which is grounded in finding the best ways to support and enhance the human activities within the building – is still the same. Yet there is no doubt that globalization as well as technological and demographical developments are continuously changing the process of work, the outcome and not least the ways of working.
What skills and competencies do you think are needed for a facility manager to succeed in the workplace?
The role of a Facility Manager is highly complex. Among others Facility Managers need to understand engineering, architecture, finance, IT, HR and how all these business functions fit together.
Then there is the understanding of human behavior which is particularly important. Not least in an office environment with a highly diverse workforce and new ways of working. A Facility Managers role is here to make people to work together and to the extend it is possible – decrease the amount of conflict within the workspace. This can only be performed by Facility Managers with strong soft skills (critical thinking, problem solving, working in team, communication, prioritization). If you ask me these are more important now than ever.
Now talking about workspace, do you think that we are reaching an era where the role of Facility Management is expanding beyond the office walls?
I would agree on that. During the last 5-6 years, technological developments have enabled office workers to work from wherever, whenever. No matter the distance I can now have face to face conversations with colleagues whenever I find it suitable.
To ensure worker productivity, it is therefore increasingly becoming crucial for Facility Managers to look beyond the office walls, orchestrate many different working environments and remove obstacles related to remote working.
Now let’s stay with technology, how do you see that impacting the Facility Management industry?
Technology has enormous impact on the daily work life of a Facility Manager but also on how we manage our facilities. Highly intelligent facility management systems can now perform practical tasks that before in time required man power.
Today, enabled by wearable technologies and applications we can both quickly and remotely detect system failures in our buildings. Most recently we have also seen drones flying out and solving the problems at hand.
Technology innovation moves so fast. The competencies it requires to manage Facility Management technologies today are almost outdated tomorrow. So while being an enhancement in our ways of managing facilities, it is also a true challenger of our ways of working and the skill sets required to succeed in our roles as Facility Managers.