What is Facilities Management and When Should Small Businesses Start to Think About it?
March 28, 2023
All businesses start from a great idea and a desire to make a difference, to do better and make a change.
From this first thought to the implementation and formation of a company, predominantly things start out small, maybe the office is a van, a kitchen table or that spare room that is only ever used once in a while.
For those fortunate enough to survive the early days of going into business, as your business grows so does your need for increased space, people and storage, amongst other things. Each growth step will see an ever increasing need to acquire premises. Perhaps at first you will find yourself in a shared workspace or a small serviced office somewhere. If you continue on a good trajectory of growth eventually you will find your company is now on the floor of an office block or more.
Before you know it you will have a bunch of items which you will need to ensure are looked after, there will be that annoying blinking light that distracts everyone or that one toilet that constantly blocks that no one wants to keep dealing with.
Sure you can get a local tradesperson to change the light bulb and unblock the toilet, but! Are you being compliant with the terms of the lease and your statutory duties?
Let's start by taking a basic view of what Facilities Management is.
Facilities Management (FM) is an important function for all businesses whether the organisation be small and housed in a small office space right through to multinational companies scale.
The role of FM, in essence, is to bring all services, people and their functions together with the view of improving their quality of life whilst in the space they work in, which in turn should increase their productivity with the ultimate end goal of ensuring the efficiency of the core business.
FM delivery is normally broken up into two key areas as briefly outlined below:
Hard Services – Simply put, hard services look after all fixed assets, machines otherwise known as plant and building systems and encompass the activities outlined below:
- Reactive Maintenance - for example, changing light bulbs, unblocking toilets
- Preventative Maintenance - for example, servicing of assets, Life safety systems
- Whole life asset planning
Soft Services – Predominantly requires teams or subcontractors to provide services to the staff and their visitors within their organisation, for example:
- Reception services
- Post room management
As a business, when should you start to think about whether you need a supporting partner to help manage aspects of your built environment?
The following is not an exhaustive list but will provide some key indicators:
Mounting backlog of uncompleted maintenance tasks - Leaking taps, blinking or non working lights, scuffs on walls and loose or worn carpet tiles and flooring. People are the biggest asset to your business. Employees need their workplace to be a vibrant and a productive place to be, especially since the return to work post pandemic.
If the workspace is looking worn with lots of things not working or in need of repair then employees are less likely to want to be in the office, they are also likely to be less engaged and productivity may well become affected.
Items that keep getting put off soon mount up, condition of assets start to rapidly deteriorate in the absence of preventative or reactive maintenance which in the long run will potentially add preventable, additional costs to your business.
Rising Maintenance costs - You find that you are having to use multiple contractors and specialist providers to service your space. You may require the following types of services to support your business:
- Cleaning company - Cleaning your areas of responsibility and ensuring toilets are kept in good order
- Handyman - Changing light bulbs, fluorescent tubes, minor repairs
- Electrician - Electrical faults, PAT, Minor electrical works
- Air conditioning company - Servicing of any comms room ac, filter cleaning, fault diagnosis and repair
- Gas Safe registered company - Servicing of boilers, soundness test on pipe work and appliances if applicable.
- Decorator - Periodic making good and refreshing of interior potentially to meet lease clauses and requirements
Difficulty in Asset Management - Many small businesses do not track their assets, of those who do this is done manually which can be very labour intensive, depending on size of property/portfolio. If you are not tracking your assets, at the early stages this will not provide any real issues however, it becomes very prevalent as your business starts to scale.
Facilities management can really bring benefit when or if you are noticing any of the following:
- Your asset register is inadequate or you simply do not have one
- You are finding it difficult to remember and keep track of what assets you have
- The current location and condition of assets is unknown to you
- If any tools or equipment go missing and no one notices until someone happens go looking for the item
- You continually purchase replacement items only to discover you still had the original
Health & Safety Issues - In the modern workplace Health & Safety is more than just about the physical effects on a person who has suffered an accident as a result of something going wrong within the workplace. Wellbeing is also vitally important.
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
This is the primary piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety in Great Britain. It's sometimes referred to as HSWA, the HSW Act, the 1974 Act or HASAWA.
It sets out the general duties which:
- Employers have towards employees and members of the public
- Employees have to themselves and to each other
- Certain self-employed have towards themselves and others
Below is what FM professionals refer to as the ‘Six Pack’, these are key pieces of safely legislation and help businesses manage risk effectively:
The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999
States what employers are required to do to manage health and safety under the health and safety at work act. The main requirement for employers is to carry out risk assessments. Where an employer has 5 or more employees, these must be written and kept demonstrating the significant findings of the risk assessment.
The Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992
Cover a wide range of basic health, safety and welfare issues that apply to most workplaces, with some exceptions such as construction sites, in or on a ship and underground mining.
The regulations aim to ensure that workplaces meet the health, safety and welfare of all members of a workforce, including people with disabilities. The regulations state that welfare provision and access to toilets, showers, washbasins, doors, passageways and stairs are accessible by all.
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
The regulation provides guidance on how to avoid, assess and reduce the risk of injury from manual handling operations, whether this be lifting items, pushing or pulling items.
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
The regulation has been designed to protect workers from injury through the course of their work by providing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as clothing and equipment. PPE must always be considered as the line of defence and where all other reasonable steps have been taken to reduce the risk arising from a particular task.
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998
This regulation concerns itself with equipment and machinery provided in order to carry out work tasks. The equipment/machinery must be safe for use, installed and maintained in the correct manner in order to prevent injury arising from the use of the said machinery/equipment.
Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Regulations
These apply to employers whose workers regularly use DSE as a significant part of their normal work (daily, for continuous periods of an hour or more), therefore leaving them at risk from associated health problems and injuries, such as repetitive strain. These workers are known as DSE users.
Environmental Social Governance (ESG) Lastly but by no means least, ESG is the underpinning foundation within your business. ESG is a set of standards measuring your business impact on the environment, on society and how transparent and accountable your business is.
The earlier you start to understand ESG and begin to weave ESG into the fabric of your business the easier it will be for your business when you need to expand or look for investment from institutions into your business.
Below is a very short summary of ESG:
Environmental - How are you using energy and managing your environmental impacts? Is your company thinking about how you will face the challenges of climate change?
As a business you should be thinking about your carbon emissions, if you have a fleet, could you possibly change to electric vehicles?
Are you making the most efficient use of the energy you use, such as changing fluorescent lights to LED, scheduling lighting on a timer to suit business hours, ensuring your AC is set within a tolerable range for the staff, making sure you have time clocks on your heating and cooling etc.
Consider your waste production, are you trying to reduce, reuse and recycle rather than send items straight to landfill?
Are you with an energy provider who is providing renewable energy?
Social - How is your company fostering people and culture, have you considered what kind of culture you wish to develop within your business? Once you know what kind of culture you want to develop, what kind of impact does/will this have on your employees and also the wider community.
You should develop a supply chain that echoes the values and aligns with the culture of your business by checking and vetting any new suppliers. It is a good idea to gain an understanding of their commitment to ESG.
Will your business have any effects on the local community or how can your business have a positive effect on the local community?
Governance - The key factor is the integrity of your business and its leadership. You must ensure you have transparent accounting methods, you pursue diversity in your leadership. The company should follow anti corruption measures in all areas.Consideration should also be given to any potential conflicts of interest.
We hope this gives you a very small insight into what FM is and when a small/new business should start to think about implementing a FM strategy.
In the coming months FPC will be publishing a series of articles designed to give a greater insight into aspects associated with Facilities Management and we hope you found this article useful.
Please get in touch with us firstname.lastname@example.org to hear more regarding our full suite Digital Facilities Management Services.