What is Facilities Management?

Facility Management (FM) is a role that encompasses multiple disciplines. According to the South African Facilities Management Association (SAFMA), “facilities management is an enabler of sustainable enterprise performance through the whole life management of productive workplaces and effective business support services “.
The ISO (International Organization Standards) description expands on this: “facilities management integrates multiple disciplines to influence the efficiency and productivity of economies of societies, communities, and organisations, as well as how individuals interact with the built environment. Facilities Management affects the health, wellbeing, and quality of life of much of the world’s societies and population through the services it manages and delivers.“
In short, an FM is responsible for ensuring that all the components of the business work harmoniously in a safe, comfortable, productive, and sustainable environment.

Latest trends

Globally, influences such as demographics, social changes, and the Covid pandemic have contributed to a shift in how the workplace is viewed and what people expect from it. FM is changing at a rapid rate to tackle the needs of the post-pandemic world. The 10 top emerging trends encompass five key areas, namely: The new age of outsourcing; The new workplace; Digital disruption and the portfolio; Smart technology and artificial intelligence and; data-driven decision making.
In brief, the top ten facilities management trends are:

  • Outsourcing;
  • Integrated services;
  • The multi-generational workplace;
  • Wellness;
  • Collaboration;
  • Managed workspace and co-working;
  • Personalisation;
  • The smart workplace;
  • Data-driven and;
  • The rise of the robots


How to keep ahead of the curve

The average FM must function across a range of areas: from the cost of leased space, the lifetime of plant and equipment, energy consumption, technical maintenance, the user experience, business plans to HR. Add to this the complexity of implementing new ways of working, fostering more efficient collaboration, knowledge sharing, innovation, and productivity, and the role becomes a mammoth undertaking. Consequently, FM roles are becoming more sophisticated and broadening to encompass more responsibilities and skillsets to improve the services delivered to clients, protect the value of the assets, and create a favourable environment for employees.
Considering the growing complexity of the role, is it no surprise that Research and consulting organisation Frost & Sullivan predicts that by 2025 the global outsourced market in FM services will be worth $1 trillion. Outsourcing support drives efficiency. The right outsourcing ‘partner’ will deliver a local, highly tailored service backed with the right resources.
All-in-all, there is an exciting future for facilities management, especially in South Africa. Businesses that embrace flexibility and develop sound processes will be the ones who shape the next iteration of the workplace and move companies forward to a prosperous future.

*Adapted from an article by Johan Burger (MSAFMA | Accredited Facilities Professional; Director of SAFMA; (Vice Chairman of SAFMA)