March 1, 2018
The British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) has today announced plans to embrace ‘workplace’ as a key ‘differentiator’ for its members and to help establish facilities management as a chartered profession. The manifesto for change announced by BIFM Chair Stephen Roots, sets out to ‘reposition facilities management, emphasising its ability to make a real contribution to organisations’ performance’. It sets the Institute the ‘twin tasks of helping members to improve their skills and their status to meet the needs of modern organisations, and to raise the profile of facilities management and the understanding of the value it contributes’. The proposed new name is the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM).
Stephen Roots said: “As an Institute, we aim in this, our 25th year to take a major step forward and re-position the Institute and facilities management. To do this, the board and myself are recommending that the Institute changes its name from the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM), to the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) and begins the process to attaining chartered body status. This step is not taken lightly or without thought. In making this move we are responding to the challenge to provide leadership in an industry which has not yet shown all it is capable of, and hence, has not yet achieved the status it deserves. As a professional body, the work we do to raise professionalism across the industry is funded by our members. It is therefore for them to decide if they support this proposal and they will have the chance to vote for or against it at the Institute’s AGM on the 5th of July.”
The new name has been proposed in the wake of research commissioned by BIFM in 2017 conducted by 3edges on the current state of FM, its future, the relationship to workplace and the future role of BIFM. An executive summary of the research has also been made available.
BIFM says that the term workplace is being added to the Institute’s name because it embraces a wider range of key functions than Facilities Management, ‘recognising the joint responsibility of FM, IT and Human Resources to achieving optimal performance between people, technology and workplace. There is a manifest need for skilled individuals who can interconnect between these specialisms. At present none of the individual professions has taken responsibility for meeting the need to develop a cadre of interconnection specialists. The Institute intends to work with other organisations to develop the range of tools and qualifications that members will need to rise to this challenge’.
The announcement claims that ‘Facilities Management has matured as a profession, but as the pace of change becomes ever more rapid, BIFM members have remarked that the term Facilities Management appears increasingly limited. The Institute believes that including ‘Workplace’ will more adequately reflect the high level of skills needed to embrace the data analysis, automation, human factors and interconnectedness of today’s organisations.’
The Institute is also preparing to apply for chartered body status and eventually to ‘explore the power to hold the register of workplace and FM professionals and to licence other bodies to grant individual chartered status’.
BIFM CEO, Linda Hausmanis, said: “This is hugely important step for BIFM and the wider profession and one we’re looking forward to progressing. While we’re a relatively young profession, facilities management has matured significantly over the past two decades and we’re now at a stage where our membership is intrinsically linked to improving business performance – increasingly at board level. As we look ahead, we know that workplace performance will remain a critical area of focus and will shape discussions that range from the use of technology to how we manage mental health, promote social mobility and attract and shape talent. Today’s announcement will help make sure the FM profession isn’t just at the heart of these debates but is recognised as the go-to expert on some of the biggest opportunities and challenges we face today.”
Having opened the dialogue with Privy Council, BIFM will commence the process toward meeting the criteria set out by the latter to become a chartered body. The process will include a timeline to obtain members’ approval before a formal submission is made.
Facilities management and its problem with status and identity
The briefing paper claims that the facilities management profession as a whole doesn’t feel understood, valued or respected, particularly by business leaders and those working outside of FM. The sector is also ‘grappling with a chronic lack of funding and resources – the pressures of cost reduction and achieving more for less’. It also faces ‘unrealistic expectations from increasingly demanding clients and customers and lacks suitably educated, trained and competent staff – a problem made worse by the challenge of attracting and motivating talent’.
The research suggests that the profession needs to ‘collaborate more with other disciplines and integrate more with the core business’. It also needs to be more clearly defined and better qualified – including working towards chartered status, so that it can achieve an equal footing to other professions.
For some of the participants in the research FM is still very much about the management of buildings. However, for others the role of facilities management is more about enabling work generally with FM seen as a ‘parent’, with the workplace as just one of the things that it is responsible for. Others view the workplace as a parent and FM as one of the functions responsible for managing it.
The briefing paper involved a desktop review of BIFM membership data and other publications, 78 interviews with people working inside and outside the FM profession and an online survey of BIFM that yielded 550 responses.
More to come, obviously.