Strategies for Facilities departments


A good facilities group is unobtrusive, supportive and quietly efficient. A bad one can be a critical obstacle to business change.

It is amazing something as simple as provision of waste bins can have such a huge effect on the morale of a workforce.

The business environment is incredibly important and must not be sacrificed on the altar of cost savings because that can have a much bigger and more costly negative effect on productivity.


Building Maintenance & Environment

Two key considerations should govern decision-making:

1) Will this change be highly visible?

For example, getting rid of local waste bins in favour of centralised recycling might seem to make sense, but it is highly visible cost-cutting and can be counter-productive with a proliferation of local home-made ‘bins’ and growth of cynicism.

2) Does it truly make sense to have a one-size-fits-all policy?

This requires an understanding of the needs of different departments.

Space Management & Buildings

Office space can be hugely expensive and is frequently on long inflexible lease terms, but it can be even more expensive to have productivity constrained by the available space.

Making best use of the available space is very important, so emphasis should be on flexible dividers and partitions, whiteboard walls, self-contained desks with wheels.

Local teams should be allow to configure their space themselves and change it at will, preferably without needing help from Facilities.

Office Equipment & Facilities

Provision of boring but important services like Projectors, Photocopiers, Printers, Water Coolers, Coffee Machines and Seating Areas is surprisingly important.

There’s a balance to be struck between local convenience and creating an environment where people from different groups regularly mix and share ideas. Examples such as Pixar show how important this can be.


In a modern business environment, good supplies of stationery matter.

Visual work-management techniques depend on an abundance of post-it notes, record cards, blu-tac, Scotch tape, pens and markers. All teams should be well supplied and should never need to wait for any regular request.

Building Staff

Helpful and courteous building staff matter because they are the face of your business to visitors.

Staff need to understand that their role is similar to the hospitality trade – nothing should be too much trouble. That way everyone will feel special.

Facilities, like many supporting departments, needs to be about enabling people to do the right thing, rather than stopping them doing the wrong thing. They must not be the “building police”.

The physical environment is a primary driver for business culture and so the role of Facilities in supporting this is frequently under-appreciated. This is not a minor matter and no well-functioning business can be without a healthy and productive Facilities group.

There can be huge costs tied up with the delays in waiting for a Facilities group to schedule work. Instead of forcing all building and environment changes to go via Facilities, allow local departments to procure their own solutions internally or externally according to need (with simple controls). Direct costs may be higher but the ability to go and solve their own problems will cut delays, saving more in indirect costs. Also, the Facilities group will be able to focus and respond faster on common needs.

Developing a detailed strategy will also depend on local circumstances. I’d welcome the opportunity to work with you to define a specific approach to your department.

Posted in Strategy.

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