facility management

The importance of strategic facility management

In the early days of your business, it’s fine for your office to be “just” somewhere to work; an address to put on invoices and a place to host clients when needed. But as your organization grows, the role of the workplace evolves as well. And it’s then that strategic facility management becomes important.

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A strategic approach to facilities management is one that aligns physical design and functionality with the goals and values of your business and its employees. Let’s take a closer look at what that means.

What is strategic facility management?

Strategic facility management requires a business, and its facilities team, to take a less reactive and responsive view to the way their workplace operates — focusing instead on long-term plans and initiatives.

Against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, this might mean not just asking employees to give their desks a quick wipe down at the end of the day, but having a team of rostered cleaners who sweep through shared spaces every few hours. It might also mean replacing that half-filled vending machine in the hallway with an in-house catering company who serve fresh, healthy food for employees to pre-book (a fantastic way to keep your workforce going strong).

Effective strategic facilities management begins with an understanding of the role your workspace plays in achieving your business goals. Other motivations behind strategic facility management might be:

  • Transitioning to hybrid working
  • Attracting and retaining the very best talent
  • Fostering a culture of greater collaboration and trust
  • Embracing eco-friendly practices at work

Why is strategic facility management so important?

You are strategic in all other aspects of your business: financial planning, marketing, product/service development, hiring, and so on. So why not make your workplace an asset you can measure, assess, and get more value from?

Below are three benefits to strategic facilities management:

Boosting your workplace ROI

Office space isn’t cheap to rent or buy. And particularly in the context of hybrid working, where fewer employees are in the office together day-to-day, you want to make that investment count.

Strategic facility management can help. By attaching an overall business goal (or goals) to the way you use and plan your workspace, you more meaningfully connect your daily operations to what you want to achieve. What needs to happen in your office to add value to the bottom line?

Improve workforce productivity

One of the most apparent ways your facilities translate to revenue is through helping (or hindering) how well your staff can work. Remember, your ‘facilities’ include a long list of differing factors, including temperature and lighting controls, cleaning and hygiene, your reception desk, property maintenance, electrical testing, and more.

If employees are too hot or too cold, their productivity will suffer (warm offices are particularly damaging, cutting productivity by 2-4% for every 1 degree celcius over 27C). If you fall behind on electrical testing and your devices start to fail (or worst, become dangerous to use) that can have a significant effect as well, causing lost productivity and lack of faith in the space. 

When you’re strategic about facility management, however, then you outpace these potential issues; measures are put in place to give your workforce the facilities they need to perform.

Talent acquisition

Your office doesn’t need a ping-pong table or a slide to attract top talent! But it does need to be fully-functional, welcoming, and supportive of their values and needs.

This is particularly true when looking to increase your DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion). Some new hires will need quiet, breakout spaces where they can focus on their own. You could also choose an informal, open-plan setting for your office to encourage a hierarchy-free environment. Facilities management and office planning work side-by-side, so figure out what you want to provide in terms of Employee Experience and build a strategy from there.

Running your office sustainably is another way to attract new hires. After all, 28% of UK workers would consider quitting their current roles for the opportunity to work at a greener organization. Have you given your facilities manager the space to become strategic and sustainable?

Your company’s ability to support hybrid working is another huge draw in talent acquisition, of course. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that remote work is a very attractive selling point — one that businesses need to catch up with or risk losing out.

How do you implement a strategic facility management plan?

Control occupancy workplace

You can’t rush into strategic facility management. It’s a five-stage approach that carefully considers the myriad stakeholders in your workspace, what they need from their office, and how the workplace can help push your business forward towards its objectives:

  • Understand. Where are you today and where do you want to be tomorrow? The first step in implementing strategic facilities management is to map out what success will look like and what it takes to get there. Equally important, though, you need to identify what budget you’ve got to invest in the transformation, who needs to have buy-in, and how long the transition should take.
  • Analyze. Now that your goals are clearly defined, the next part is all about the how. How are you going to execute your strategic facility management plan? Take advantage of the many analytical tools and methods that can help you design a facility strategy. For example, a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOTs) test will help you identify ways to add value and what risks derailing your approach. When you add that to brainstorming sessions and strategic meetings, you should have no trouble figuring out how to proceed with the plan.
  • Plan. Now, it’s time to use what you’ve learned from the last two steps to create an actionable roadmap. Your plan should outline what changes you are making and why, then write down the steps you will take to make the project a reality. Think of it as a long-term scheme that highlights how you will meet the company’s needs; establish a timeframe, set milestones, assign tasks to others if needed — all so you can proceed with the strategy in the most effective way.
  • Act. Once you’ve presented the plan and your roadmap to senior stakeholders and helped them understand the vision (share the benefits we covered above and you’ll have a compelling argument!), all that’s left to do is begin. But the hard work isn’t over yet.
  • Measure. How will you know if your strategic facility management approach is working over time? What measurements and metrics need to be put in place to monitor the on-going impact? This will likely include financial, cultural, and productivity-related analytics, but what you choose to measure will all depend on your objectives.

In the end, the point of strategic facility management is to aid your company on its journey toward becoming the best that it can be. Long-term planning like this helps you futureproof your business by figuring out your values and then committing to bringing them to life.

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If you’re looking for more help in reaching your strategic facility management goals, head over to Smartway2. Our resources center outlines many more ways to make the workspace work for you and our expert team is available to share further insights.


Hannah Cresswell

Last updated December 22, 2021