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According to the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), a facility manager (FM) must in their capacity “ensures functionality, comfort, safety, and efficiency of the built environment by integrating people, place, process, and technology.”

It’s safe to say that those in facility management must possess a wide range of essential skills. This has never been truer than in 2021, now that the COVID-19 pandemic has fueled immense changes to the workplace and to FM responsibilities. Several industry experts believe that the following skills are extremely critical in becoming a successful facility manager in 2021.

1. Technological creativity

By nature, professionals in facility management get tons of challenges thrown at them every day. Many of these challenges will demand creative solutions.

This is especially true with the influx of technological solutions – one needs to find a creative combination of technological tools to best fit the needs of the facility. — Elliott Chase.

So, if you’re used to simply following the rules and doing “business as usual,” then chances are you’re not going to build an innovative workplace. In fact, you risk falling behind on many important tools you should be aware of. Much talk of change in the industry now hinges around the growing role of technology.

2. Empathy

Facility management is all about the employees working for you within all FM services, the different stakeholders, the end-users, and the guests. Also, most of the responsibilities in facility management focus on creating a happier and healthier work environment. So, it’s imperative to put yourself into the shoes of your workers and facility guests—and to show compassion.

Jurriaan Hommes, currently the Regional Strategic Account BSC – Europe, Russia, and Turkey for Diversey, agrees that one of the most important skills for a facility manager is the ability to deal with people effectively.

The ability to better understand your guests’ and employee’s struggles and anticipate their frustrations will allow you to create a workplace that addresses their needs, instead of one that just looks good on paper.

And today, as we work to reinforce health and safety measures across facilities, warehouses, and offices, increased compassion, and understanding for individuals’ health, work-from-home, essential working, or unemployment situations is necessary.

3. Adaptability

No matter how savvy you are with Excel or building management software, you need to be able to quickly handle new or urgent situations that come your way.
You must do so in a very calm, cool, and collected demeanor. Peter Ankerstjerne, Chief Strategy Office at Planon and 1st Vice-Chair of the IFMA Board of Directors, believes that the number one skill of facility managers is adaptability.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Akerstjerne spoke out about adapting to a new normal in the office, and new roles and responsibilities among facility managers. As he stressed:

“In navigating what’s next, it’s critical to now prepare for the reactivation of our workplace and to balance the health, safety, and financial implications of the COVID-19 lockdown. Preparedness, resilience, and agility will be key as we continue to implement the necessary health and wellbeing measures to allow the workplace to be safe and effective”

4. A data-driven mindset

David Markowitz of Service Channel, an expert on facility management analytics tools who knows a thing or two about analyzing data believes that adding value as a facility manager means analyzing things like facilities spend, contractor performance, and quality of service. But that’s not all. You then need to proactively identify cost outliers and areas of improvement.

“Today, any facilities manager looking to stay on top of his/her game, needs to be increasingly data-driven. The profession’s moving away from simply being a reactive, dispatcher of technicians for work requests” — David Markowitz

He goes on to say that having the right facility management analytics tools make all the difference. Only then can you leverage all the data available.

While each skill is important on its own, the combination of all of the above can really be the difference between an average facility manager and one that shines.


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