The FM department's rare opportunities to be more visible to those they serve should be grasped with all available gusto, writes Martin Read.
5 June 2017 | Martin Read
Would that facilities management was always appreciated by end-users as a series of special events.
Not those typical workplace problems that trigger a response from the FM team as a matter of course; instead, the kind of extracurricular events that fall under the FM's brief and are distinct from day-to day service delivery - such as presentations, sports days, conferences and the like.
I recently visited a facility where one floor had been set aside for the visit of an important dignitary and his retinue. Security was tight, the audience bigger than normal for the space allocated, and there was particularly close attention paid to everything from supply of drinking water to air conditioning. Here's what I noticed: the building's regular users pausing as they passed by to marvel at the temporary transformation of a familiar space, and their questions to the facilities staff on the ground.
The event went off without a hitch and, crucially, a 'regular hours' workforce had been made aware that among them walked a special breed of project management geniuses; people who had silently yet successfully pulled together all the necessary strings.
Ironically, it's often only when those providing the 'invisible service' are recognised for doing something out of the ordinary that their customers get the 'light-bulb' moment. "Ah, so it's you who put that marquee/buffet/light show/presentation together? And you're the guys who keep the air conditioning running? Well, I never "
An FM's event management brief can often allow a welcome snapshot into FM's otherwise 'behind the scenes' world. Most other facets of the role are judged by how light the FM's touch is, not seen or heard. By contrast, special event can be a powerful shop window for the facilities function. Corporate newsletters might to let everyone know that it was 'FM what done it' - but that probably isn't enough.
Perhaps more direct FM service branding at points of entry into an event allowing regular users to make the connection between 'their' FM team and the function in front of them would help. The FM department's rare opportunities to be more visible to those they serve should be grasped with all available gusto.
Martin Read is editor of FM World