by Brianna Crandall — March 5, 2018 — The British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) announced plans on March 1 to mark its 25th anniversary by embracing “workplace” as a key differentiator for its members and to establish facilities management (FM) as a chartered profession. BIFM promotes excellence in FM for the benefit of practitioners, the economy and society, and supports and represents over 17,000 individual and organizational members around the world and thousands more through qualifications and training.
The manifesto for change unveiled by BIFM Chair Stephen Roots sets out to re-position facilities management, emphasizing its ability to make a real contribution to organizations’ performance. It sets the Institute the twin tasks of helping members to improve their skills and their status to meet the needs of modern organizations, and to raise the profile of FM and the understanding of the value it contributes.
Stephen Roots stated:
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 was 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 was made available along with the announcement.
According to BIFM, “workplace” is being added to the Institute’s name because it embraces a wider range of key functions than “facilities management,” recognizing the joint responsibility of the FM, Information Technology (IT) and Human Resources (HR) departments to achieving optimal performance between people, technology and workplace.
There is a manifest need for skilled individuals who can interconnect between these specialties, says BIFM. At present, none of the individual professions has taken responsibility for meeting the need to develop a cadre of interconnection specialists, adds the group. The Institute intends to work with other organizations to develop the range of tools and qualifications that members will need to rise to this challenge.
As the BIFM site points out, “In today’s economy people can and do work anywhere, not just in offices or shops but at home, on site and on the go. Meanwhile, workplaces themselves represent a significant proportion of any operation’s costs, so when organizations bring people together in workplaces, there needs to be a value to doing so. That value comes about through making connections and feeling a sense of joint purpose and direction.
“This changes the role of FMs to one of empowering work wherever it takes place, and of making workplaces productive. It’s no longer just about how many people you can fit into a space or how cheap services can be, it’s about how you can help people optimize their performance.”
FM 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 organizations.
Whether or not the new name is adopted, the Institute is preparing to apply for chartered body status and eventually to explore the power to hold the register of workplace and FM professionals and to license other bodies to grant individual chartered status.
BIFM’s announcement comes in the light of new opportunities and challenges facing the sector. From the adoption of new technology and responding to shifting customer expectations, to increasing educational performance, facilities management has a critical role to play in shaping the workplaces of the future — as well as offering counsel for businesses with local, regional and international interests.
Embracing “workplace” and offering chartered status will enable FM professionals to leverage their experience and continue to raise awareness of the work the industry does across the globe, opines BIFM.
BIFM CEO Linda Hausmanis remarked:
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 discussios 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 recognized as the go-to expert on some of the biggest opportunities and challenges we face today.
Having opened the dialogue with the UK’s 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.