Why are you passionate about facilities management, and why is this field so essential to be a part of?
No matter what business or industry you find yourself in, facilities management touches and impacts the lives of every person accommodated in that organisation. The discipline of FM is that of anticipating the needs of the organisation, planning and coordinating its support systems, and ensuring a functional, safe and pleasing environment for the occupants, and its visitors.
What I find stimulating about facilities management is that it is so diverse. No matter what you have planned for the day, no day is the same and, therefore, you need to be an organised person and have the ability to think on your feet, be people-focused, whilst addressing the challenges in the best interest of the business. Change management and demand management are also essential competencies needed to be successful in this line of work.
What are the main tasks of facilities management, and what challenges have you come across thus far?
The responsibilities of facilities managers will vary depending on the nature of the organisation, but generally entail maintaining the buildings and grounds of an organisation, overseeing the upkeep of equipment and supplies, determining and scheduling repairs or renovation projects, and coordinating safety inspections.
For Government, it has become an employment drive, and I agree this must be the goal. Given the urgency, it is imperative that employment must not override the objectives of sound facility management for well-run buildings. By getting Government’s house in order, we’ll create the right platform to build on.
In your opinion, what strategies are there for effective facilities management in government and the public sector?
A few years back, I was asked the question as to why Government can’t seem to get their buildings in order, and my simple response was that they don’t know what they don’t know and therefore don’t have the information needed to get the help they need. Albeit slow, that position has improved particularly at national key points within Government, where these services have been outsourced to FM companies. The system put in place has enabled the Government to increase the pace in driving the public sector buildings’ agenda.
It is evident that Government’s strategy is to procure FM service providers, to assist them in bringing their buildings up to standard. Through their outsourced service drive skills transfer, and driving their employment, objectives are achieved and in so doing capacity is built. Consistency and performance management of Government staff and contractors will be key once these structures are set up, and performance measurement of both staff and service providers will be paramount.
Are you witnessing any key trends emerging in the facilities management field in SA? If so, please elaborate.
Trends in the facilities management field are:
- Big data: drives procurement and long-term building sustainability and strategy.
- Energy efficiency and sustainability given the impact of power outages
- Planning and positioning business to meet Government’s 2030 environmental agenda.
- Hybrid workplace solutions: the workspace is being re-engineered to support hybrid working environments.
- Business sustainability: the hybrid workplace has resulted in a decreased demand for office space and related support services. Innovative solutions whilst protecting jobs are at the forefront of decision-makers for business survival.
What advice would you give to South Africans who aspire to work in your field of expertise?
Facilities Management is not for the fainthearted and having a passion for what you do in this industry is the first step to success in facilities management. My advice to South Africans who wish to operate in this environment is to make a positive contribution to the economy of this country through sustainable business solutions.
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