Why FM teams need love!

Eimear Moloney

Eimear Moloney, Associate Director, Performance

Give them the support they deserve.

In the past few decades, our industry approaches to design and construction have come so far and advanced incredibly quickly. It’s almost unrecognisable from the place it was when I started my career (yes, pre-cad days!).

We’ve got BIM, automation, off site fabrication, AI, VR, AR, and a million more acronyms…

As designers and consultants, we’re often trying to push the boundary of what’s ‘standard’, encouraged by future gazing and clients who want the most innovative building they can get.

But I believe there’s a chink in the armour of this utopian future.

There’s a group that’s been left behind… and, even worse, left behind unwillingly.

Facilities Management teams are the heart of building services. They are responsible for keeping these new and exciting systems working.

But in my experience they are far too often undervalued, and perhaps under trained and under resourced.

Seize the opportunity.

However, one thing they are definitely not is unenthusiastic. In fact, I think they are chomping at the bit. The teams I’ve worked with were all dying to get involved and up to speed with all of this new and exciting technology – the important thing is they have to be given the time, training, and personnel to do so.

As consultants, it’s vital that we encourage our clients to bring their FM team on the journey. We need to better demonstrate how giving FM teams the involvement they need (and want!) will ensure clients get the most out of their buildings.

Over the years, I found a few simple actions can make all the difference. Here’s six tips I’d like us to share with all clients:

• Make sure a representative from the Facilities Management team is at every major design team meeting.
• Ask their opinion – a lot!
• Speak to them one-on-one. I’ve found they can sometime lack confidence when the ‘big bosses’ are in a meeting and may not be comfortable raising concerns in a crowded room.
• Be aware that this might be their first major construction project and so it could be a whole new world for them. Hold back on the acronyms.
• Be there at the handover training and help them to speak out when/if they don’t understand things. “No question is a stupid question.”
• Give them a courtesy call every month after the building is handed over to see how things are going, giving them a chance to raise issues – you might be surprised at the insight they have.

Ultimately, FM teams are a key cog that can help enhance the entire design and construction process. Better still, once a building is in operation, they’re likely to be the first to know when outside support from a Performance team is required to help get everything working as it should.

So empower FM teams – after all, they’re the people on the ‘front line’… and they deserve better support from us all.