05 April 2018 | Martin Read
Martin Read explains the correlation between workplace and FM, following BIFM's proposed change of name.
Back in 2012 I used the term 'departments of empowerment' to describe HR, IT and FM. We've come a long way since then in our appreciation of the combined might of this mission-critical triumvirate, notably in memorandums of understandings between membership bodies and the 'Workplace Advantage' report with its suggestion of a 'chief workplace officer' operating across all three plus CRE.
I'd even suggested the forced co-location of HR, IT and FM personnel, asserting that, if anything, FM might be considered first among these empowering equals in that it does double duty through its day-to-day support of the other two. Of course, HR and IT can rightfully claim similar - which I'm sure says something significant about their interdependence.
What binds HR, IT and FM is that they are each essential to an organisation's support of its workers and, by extension, any other end-users, irrespective of who they are and the extent to which the general public is involved. IT is as important to an office as it is the maintenance of machinery in a factory or the refrigeration in a shopping centre. HR is as necessary to workers in a theme park as to those running a university. And FM? It, too, is essential to the examples quoted - and any others.
Which brings me to BIFM's project to pursue adding 'Workplace' to its title. I'm particularly interested in the argument, brought roaring back into the open, that 'workplace' is but one of many things FM provides for, and / or an entirely distinct discipline. Because in the absence of any other overarching alternative, isn't there a value in widening the use of the term to cover all forms of workplace, not just offices? If FM, HR and IT are as common to hospitals, warehouses and railway stations as they are offices, so to is the fact that all involve workplaces - and will thus benefit from wider organisational awareness of said workplaces' contribution to performance. Shouldn't we be convincing Joe Public that any 'away-from-home' destination is a workplace, then using the term liberally to ensure this broader definition sticks? After all, if not 'workplace', can 'facilities' ever have the same eye and door opening clout? Therein, I suspect, lies a lot of the debate in the months ahead.
Martin Read is editor of FM World