To mark World FM Day 2021 - Celebrating FM: Standing tall beyond the pandemic, Facilitate is featuring the stellar operational workplace and facilities managers who continue to support their colleagues, organisation and broader economy.
What do you do?
I am the workplace manager looking after the soft services for the publishing company Penguin Random House UK.
What attracted you to FM/Workplace, and how did you get into the industry?
I was faced with redundancy a few years back. At the time I was a jack-of-all-trades where I worked, and redundancy forced me to think about where I saw my career going. I wanted to progress in an industry where I was able to make a difference, interact with people, and with no day being the same.
How long have you been in your current role?
Just shy of six months.
Do you see yourself predominantly as a task or a people manager?
This is the glory of working in FM – you get it all. I have a great team and contractors reporting directly to me. Their commitment and support allow me to manage and delegate tasks.
Would you describe your role as predominantly operational or strategic?
I’d say eight times out of 10 my role is operational, but I get involved with strategic planning where I can.
How many people are there in your FM/Workplace team, and to whom does the FM team ultimately report?
There are 15 reporting to the group operations director, which excludes external service providers.
My top perk at work is…
Right now, books – definitely one of the best work perks – and being surrounded by so many talented, creative people, while I can just about draw a stick man.
What has been your biggest career challenge to date?
Covid-19, without fail. Closing offices, walking the floors of an empty building, and not knowing when we will return, but still being able to support our staff from afar to allow them to continue working from home.
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
Giving facilities a stronger voice within organisations.
Any interesting tales to tell?
I found a body covered in blood wrapped in cling film in a basement. It turned out to be a prop but it looked very real for the first few seconds!
If I wasn’t in facilities management, I’d probably be…
Working with animals, travelling the world for living, or working for CoppaFeel! a breast cancer awareness charity I volunteer for.
Which “FM/Workplace myth” would you most like to put an end to?
Our jobs are not all about blocked toilets and broken air cons. FM is the backbone of every company and FM is all about the people.
What single piece of advice would you give to a young facilities/workplace manager starting out?
Be a sponge, soak it all up, learn as much as you can and always, [itals] always manage expectations and communicate. Not everyone has attended Hogwarts, and Rome wasn’t built in a day, but always try your best.
What was the weirdest day you’ve had in the office?
23rd March 2020, my last day in the office as the Covid-19 lockdown came into place. Everyone had left to work from home and stay safe, and I was rolling my office chair along the corridor to take it home, looking at all the empty desks which would be filled with people working and not knowing when we will be back.
Early bird or night owl?
Early bird – I like to get into the office early, making sure everything is ready for the day, and then suddenly I turn into a night owl.
What FM/workplace job in the world would you love more than anything?
Head of FM at Hogwarts! Just imagine! But seriously, I love what I do, I am working with great people and I am grateful for what I have, let’s see what the future holds.
And where would FM be an absolute nightmare?
I would say somewhere where you are just a number or your opinion is not valued. Your life outside FM mostly involves… Travelling, my cat Luna, and volunteering for CoppaFeel! I lost my sister to breast cancer and helping this wonderful charity to raise awareness means my contribution may help save lives.
Christina Voigt is workplace manager at Penguin Random House UK
Click on the links below to read all of the other World FM Day entries.