Emergency Preparedness, Maintenance and Operations, Safety, Security, Sustainability/Business Continuity

How Chaotic Would the World Be if Facilities Managers Suddenly Vanished?

Just imagine: Buildings crumble, processes are out of control, people aren’t safe, and equipment isn’t taken care of. It may seem like a sequel to The Day After Tomorrow, but this would be a harsh reality if facilities managers were to suddenly vanish.

How chaotic would the world really be without facilities managers? This article dives into the extent of the pandemonium that would be unleashed if they were no longer present, examining their impact through the four pillars of facilities management: buildings, processes, people, and technology. 

1. Buildings Fall Apart

The built environment that surrounds us is the backbone of our daily lives. This includes the physical spaces we inhabit in our work and private lives: from physical buildings to the structures therein, such as elevators, staircases, and floors. It further includes systems that make said buildings habitable, such as plumbing, electrical systems, and heat, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems.

The built environment is not only incredibly complex, but it’s integral to the financial success of most businesses. The hotel cannot remain open without plumbing that works, as the office building cannot keep tenants if HVAC systems keep malfunctioning. 

Security, in the form of access control and ensuring the integrity of assets, is also the purview of the facility function. All of these factors in turn have an impact on productivity.

But what happens when things go wrong? Meet the heroes that keep our world in order: facilities managers. They’re the ones who make sure our heating is adequate, our toilets flush, our elevators function, our floors are cleaned, our railings are fixed, our security cameras work, and our machinery is well-maintained. 

Without them, everything from factories and power stations to airports and hospitals would cease to function properly. Chaos would ensue.

2. Processes Go Awry

Processes, whether in industrial, commercial, or residential environments, are like a well-choreographed dance. They require constant planning, execution, corrective measures, and review to run smoothly. 

These systems are at the heart of any viable, well-oiled facilities department, from safety, health, and hygiene requirements, to HVAC, maintenance, and security systems. The sheer scale and complexity of these various facilities-related systems can be seen in the graphic below:

Who is the Sean Bankhead of the industrial world that ensures the show does go on? You guessed it—the facilities manager. 

Facilities managers need to coordinate all these disparate systems. The health and safety manager may be in charge of health and hygiene concerns in the workplace, but it is the facilities manager that ensures the needed work gets done and supports their goals. 

That could be fixing light fixtures so that lux levels are at adequate brightness in a laboratory or maintaining air pressure systems at a paint shop.

Remove the facilities manager and the result is the collapse of facilities-related systemic processes. These would put key industries in real jeopardy: Just imagine the chaos that would ensue in logistics and supply chains alone if no one oversees that sorting machines work properly or that delivery vehicles are properly maintained.

3. People Are Unprotected

One of the most important attributes of facilities management is people management. Teams of technicians and technical experts are at the heart of nearly all facilities departments. Facilities managers oversee entire teams of technicians and allied specialists, both internal and external, providing guidance and management, including health and safety provisions.

Let me paint you a picture: Janitorial staff has gone rogue, the landscapers declared a strike, and machines decided it’s the right time to malfunction. Without the steady hand of a facilities manager, we’d have one more thing to be angry about. They’re the ones that make sure janitors mop the floors, the landscapers keep the grass greener, and machines aren’t giving anyone a silent treatment.

It’s not just technicians who benefit from the oversight of facilities managers. Employees benefit from ergonomic workstations and hygienic, comfortable offices, as do workers with machinery that works properly in industry. The same goes for customers at shopping malls or commuters at railway stations.

Facilities managers might not save Metropolis daily, but they’re protecting people all over the world from dirty floors and broken elevators. 

4. Technology Going Nowhere

Modern facilities’ function increasingly relies on technology, and digital solutions in particular, such as a CMMS system for maintenance management. CMMS ensures facilities managers have the digital support they need and helps them plan, execute, and manage maintenance functions with ease.

It does so by automating and streamlining all relevant maintenance operations. A CMMS can manage everything from work orders and maintenance schedules to asset registers, parts inventories, and maintenance reports.  

Digital solutions for facilities management are ramping up thanks to the industrial internet of things (IIoT)—whereby machinery, equipment, and devices across a plant or office building are digitally interconnected. This interconnectivity allows for far more precise real-time data on everything from temperature and air quality to energy consumption. 

Tech-savvy facilities managers understand the importance of technology for their functions and how to best harness them. Not harnessing technology would ensure everything from physical buildings to maintenance services deteriorates and attendants enter “chaos mode.”

And, if there are still any lingering doubts regarding the importance of facilities management, the graphic below demonstrates just how complex it is:

Courtesy: IFMA

Let’s Set Facilities in Order

The American historian Henry Adams once said, “Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man.” The same could be true of our built environment and the places in which we work and live: Without the necessary technology, processes, and people, there would chaos. 

The facilities managers are the heroes that provide the much-needed order to ensure that it all functions smoothly. Long live the facilities manager!

Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS. Limble is a modern, easy-to-use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations.

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