Open-access content 6th February 2009
I am often asked what expectations members have when it comes to being a member of BIFM
12 February 2009
I am often asked what expectations members have when it comes to being a member of BIFM. Most members, when asked the same question, suggest they want recognition for facilities management. Perhaps this is not so surprising when you consider that respect and recognition comes at the top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory.
Although the expressed need for recognition is still a key requirement today, I began to ponder on whether much has changed since BIFM came into existence in 1993. To help me consider this issue, I set about a totally unscientific experiment and challenged myself to see how often the words "facilities management" occurred outside of my normal working life.
My first encounter happened almost immediately after receiving a call to tell me my mother was in hospital with a suspected broken hip. On arriving at the A&E department, I sat with my mother as she was taken off for an X-ray, transferred to triage and eventually admitted to the orthopaedics ward. At each stage of the process, she was managed and transported efficiently and effectively by members of the hospital FM team.
Later in the week, I was filling up my car at the local petrol station and could not help noticing three white vans at various pumps. What drew my attention was that they all had the words "facilities management" in large print on them. What was even more surprising was that although two of them belonged to FM service providers, the third was part of a fleet belonging to the facilities department from the local county council.
The very next week, I was travelling in my car on my way to a meeting listening to Radio Four's Home Planet, a programme dedicated to listeners' questions about the natural world. A panel of experts was discussing the issue of lights being left on in buildings and debating whether introducing new legislation was the answer to solving the problem. Yvonne Rydin, professor of planning, environment and policy at UCL, and one of the panellists on the programme, suggested that the best way to tackle the issue is to empower facilities managers to educate building owners and use peer pressure as her thoughts were that legislation is an unwieldy solution to the problem.
I do not profess that facilities management has entered the lexicon of everyday life, but I am convinced that my experience is shared by each and everyone involved in our profession. Respect has to be earned and maybe facilities management is reaching that point where it is being recognised for being an essential service.