Open-access content Thursday 7th April 2011 — updated 1.53pm, Tuesday 5th May 2020
Sometimes, the events that happen around the world conspire to make you reflect on things that are going on more close to you, says Ian Fielder, CEO at the BIFM.
7 April 2011
Sometimes, the events that happen around the world conspire to make you reflect on things that are going on more close to you. Flooding in Australia, earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan plus the additional horrors of the tsunami and radiation leaks all seem at first consideration to make facilities management a humdrum issue. On further reflection however, the importance of what the average facilities manager does in their day-to-day life comes into focus and I am reminded about some of the important debates that have taken place on what some might perceive as conceptual ideas about FM.
Every natural disaster calls for a rapid assessment of the situation followed up quickly by methodical disaster recover including all necessary containment and control. The next phase will often involve the rescue of those who have survived and recovery of saveable assets. A great deal of effort will then be channelled into making things safe and every form of logistics will be employed to clean up, and begin the process of rebuilding and achieving some semblance of order. There can be no doubt that specialist skills are needed for the management of national disasters but it occurs to me that every facilities manager has been exceedingly lucky if they have not had to face some sort of workplace crisis in their lifetime. Peter Cordy, a past chairman of the BIFM spoke often about the ‘ripple effect’ of FM and how sustainable communities could benefit from good FM. This was based on the bringing together the skills of FM into the wider community and linking home and work environments. This theme has often been echoed by Barry Varcoe, former chairman of CoreNet, who has often spoken about FM being as much about managing the infrastructure in the widest sense and should include the planning and management of towns and cities.
This thinking may be radical but when looking at the skill set of FMs it is entirely feasible that in the not too distant future FM will advance well beyond the workplace. FM is progressing at such a fast pace that even today many tasks are commonplace that 20 years ago would have been considered inconceivable in most managers’ job description. A growing number of our members manage a huge portfolio of services in buildings or multiple locations that are similar in size and complexity to a small town. I am confident that if called upon they would play a key role in the command and control of recovering the facilities after a major incident. It is but a small step on from the vision set out by the likes of Peter Cordy or Barry Varcoe to become reality in the very near future.
I believe this is where our membership of Global FM can help us understand the development of FM internationally and begin to harness the very best of practices happening in strategic FM today. By the time we go to press, these issues, and others of similar magnitude, would have been discussed at the Th!nk FM conference in Nottingham.