08 May 2018 | Martin Read
Martin Read discusses how 'W' can be integrated into 'FM' without the institute's name being diminished.
Perhaps one of the most important talking points in the debate over whether BIFM should change its name to include 'workplace' in its title is the idea that the 'W' would in some way diminish the 'FM'. This is anything but the case, says the BIFM: facilities management is as fundamental as ever; all that's being proposed is the upgrading to greater prominence of a word with greater resonance and public acceptance to help better describe the famously wide scope of this sector.
But there are those who baulk at the idea that workplace could be seen as equal to FM when, in their eyes, 'workplace' is a distinct class of FM service recipient - alongside, for example, a supermarket, a hospital or a factory. In this worldview, 'workplace' is essentially a synonym for 'office', best fitted under facilities management as an overarching term.
Ah yes, but in support of the change are those who see the phrase 'workplace management' as more accurately representative of the wider panoply of service provision for which their department is responsible, and more likely to be seen as such by critical opinion formers and decision makers within their organisations. Crucially, it's a word that helps free the sector from the notion of it being solely concerned with the support of the built environment, instead allowing it to be positioned as about the provision of the optimal working environment - wherever and however that may be. 'Workplace', this argument suggests, provides greater clarity of purpose and helps develop more significant conversations about organisational productivity.
Even those who are unsure about the proposed name change accept that there does need to be change of some sort; no one is advocating the status quo. The question is simply whether the BIFM's name change to the 'Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management', and to pursue chartered status, is the change that's needed.
Perhaps it comes down to whether you believe that 'workplace' deserves its upgrade; to be freed from being principally tied to offices and instead given a wider descriptive role, one more likely to grab the attention of, and ultimately influence, critical opinion formers and budget holders.
Martin Read is editor of FM World