[Skip to content]

FM World logo
Text Size: A A A
23 February 2019
View the latest issue of FM
Sign up to Facilitate Daily >
FM World daily e-newsletter logo



Join the Think Tank to have your opinion reflected here — 

© Alamy

05 April 2018 | FM World team


BIFM seeking chartered status has called into question what this shift will mean for the industry and the FMs working in it.

Cities, banks and learned societies are among the 750 organisations to have been designated a royal charter by the monarch. These days, most new grants of royal charters are to professional institutions, and more than 150 have chartered status in the UK (though not all explicitly state the fact in the name). Obtaining a charter is by no means an overnight process; institutes have to demonstrate “a solid record of achievement” and financial stability. Pursuit of chartered status is seen as recognition of an institute’s “pre-eminence, stability and permanence” within its field of activity. BIFM, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary, believes it has now achieved those three requirements.

With a Chartered professional seen as someone who has gained a specific level of skill or competence, one early argument against Chartered status is that it would exclude a sizeable number of practising FMs because of their lack of qualifications. BIFM has countered this by claiming that both chartered and non-chartered FM professionals would be represented within its membership.

Some have questioned the cost of pursuing chartered status, and also expressed concern that corporate members may feel less represented in such an organisation.

Although considered on several past occasions, BIFM has never before begun the process of applying for Chartered Body Status. This time, however, the process will be pursued whether or not members vote for the change of institute name.


BIFM response on seeking Chartered status

“BIFM will need to demonstrate the value of the profession in order to achieve Chartered Body status and we would hope Members will start to feel a greater sense of recognition and belonging. We think members would rather be Chartered Facilities Managers or Chartered Workplace Managers than Chartered FM Surveyors. 

“Our first step is to become a Chartered body; once that is awarded we can look to seeking the power to hold the register for individual chartered individuals which we can licence to other chartered bodies to award. BIFM is committed to social mobility and it is our aim to make it possible for any member who wants to, to achieve Chartered status. We already have qualifications and routes to Member status for everyone, and we will be encouraging and helping members to take advantage of them.”


Marilyn Standley

Marilyn Standley was the first ever chair of the BIFM back when it was formed in 1993 through the coming together of the then Association of, and Institute of Facilities Management (AFM and IFM).


“I think it’s brilliant that the board has got this debate going; it’s evidence of the positive forward momentum for the profession.There’s no easy or obvious answer to the question of the name - does ‘workplace’ merely add to the things we have to define? - but it’s a positive discussion to be having and I’m particularly pleased to see us grabbing the bull by the horns in terms of chartered status.”

“I think in the past we haven’t perhaps communicated effectively just how much the work we do impacts peoples’ lives in so many different ways. While we have always had a considerable impact on the workplace, we have arguably an even greater impact on the general public. If the fruit of this exercise is greater organisational and public awareness of the function we provide, it will have been worthwhile.”

“The value to individuals of Chartered status has always been an issue of discussion, and I am pleased to see that the Institute is now confident and successful enough to be able to actually start the process. It will take some time before we can become a chartered body – but it’s a notable moment in our development.”

The ongoing role of FM

How does the institute and industry evolve while still holding on to its heritage? Early concerns have included the sense that incorporating ‘workplace’ into BIFM’s identity will automatically lead to a diminution in the importance of facilities management – indeed, the introduction of a distinction between workplace and facilities management. Some sense that this is BIFM ‘moving away’ from its traditional FM roots; and that there are still significant numbers of facilities coordinators, office managers, building managers and others who the BIFM has failed to convert to membership, and for whom the suggested new institute name would hold still less appeal.

BIFM believes the opposite, suggesting that adding ‘workplace’ will increase understanding within organisations of the wider workplace/FM role, clarifying that the one is an extension of the other. This will also allow for individuals currently practising FM without being necessarily recognised for that role to more easily identify the benefit of associating with an organisation representing workplace management in all its forms.


BIFM response on the continuing role of FM

“Embracing workplace does not mean turning away from FM. We expect many members at all levels will continue to identify as facilities managers, especially where their work context demands it; and where perhaps there is an unquestionable coupling of facility and business.

“A name change for the Institute is a visible statement of intent but it’s not the end result. We will build on our strengthened foundations to ensure we are fit for a future of sustained growth and development, ensuring we continue to develop excellent services and content for members.

“All industries change, and one only has to look at other professional bodies to see the need to change to reflect the profession you serve.

“In recent years we have seen an increasing number of our members’ job titles change from Facilities to Workplace – doing the same job but with a different organisational perspective. By changing our name, we maintain our heritage in FM but widen to reflect the changing workplace environment; ensuring and maintaining relevance.”

Dereck Dziva, lead manager, workplace at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

“My role is as owning the workplace experience. After our workplace transformation project three years ago, it was redefined to better reflect the contribution that I made during our shift to agile working.

“Adding ‘workplace’ to the institute’s identity will add credibility because ‘workplace management’ will be viewed through a professional lens and open even more doors.

“We have a great opportunity to own the workplace element through this change. The link with productivity and organisational performance is becoming more evident by the day. I see this as an evolution of the profession.

“I think workplace management allows people to make an immediate and emotional link with their work environment. I believe the general population will get first time when someone uses the phrase workplace management; Facilities is mostly about ‘things’ and as such people do not usually associate the word with the creation of an enabling and productive workplace.”