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The first industrial revolution that has started in 1760 and to some time between 1820 to 1840 has brought in significant developments in the world. Predominantly the world has seen the inventions of textiles, iron ore processing, steam power etc., Followed by the second industrial revolution (technical revolution) during the late 18th century,  seen the evolution of manufacturing plants, making ships, carts made the people become more mobile.

The next big thing after the Industrial revolution had to wait for so long into the late twentieth century. Late into the 1980’s to the millennium and beyond, the world has seen the evolution of information & communication technology and how the world can make the lives much smarter, easier and connected together! Social enterprising has pushed the population to live in communities again, alas, in a virtual world!

What has grown, totally un-noticed along with this technology & communication evolution is the demand for real estate space. The space occupied by gigantic machines on the shop floors has given way to beautiful & ornamental workspaces to appease more human machines, which are mobile and sensitive. What was seen as a crime for HR managers in the manufacturing plants to maintain staff attrition levels below 5% has pushed the dynamics to 50% and more for the tech&comm companies in the internet era? Need for human factories increased significantly, unlike the previous era of industrial factories. From the nascent stages, where the real estate used to be controlled by un-organized sector, moved to trillion-dollar organised sector and there is so much of movement to create best practice libraries and the expertise to operate these human factories. Ease of doing business without significant capital has made many young entrepreneurs jump into this evolution with the capital of their own brainpower and we see the growth of them pushing for more and more organised real estate space requirements. On the other hand, leaving a job at the drop of a hat has come to haunt business managers as well as HR managers to retain these human machines. Getting the manpower stick to their companies for long has become a single point agenda for the management think tank and they started looking at ways on how to come out with creative office spaces, which would make these human machines feel home (a home away from home, where they spend more time than the time with their families or partners) and stay for longer!

Creative work stations and office spaces have not only pushed the limits of the real estate industry to be at it’s best but the innovative ways to create and manage too. Corporate Solutions is another terminology, which is used in this industry to define the three legs of the real estate that support client requirements (I still remember the day when John Forrest, CEO & Global Director for Corporate Solutions, JLL Americas, had pulled out a three-legged stool into the air and explained about the importance and connective behaviour of these three legs, to a room filled with Asia Pacific’s future REFM leaders in Singapore, in 2002). The three legs of corporate solutions are framed as below:

  1. Commercial & Transactions Management: To understand the client business requirements, advise the right space, and the right location
  2. Project Management: To build the office space, either from scratch or do the fit-outs to customise the end-user requirements
  3. Facilities Management: To manage the workspace once it is built and handed over, for the full course of its life cycle.

Facilities management started to grow and grow, without a recession, as it is the last leg of the value chain. It is the responsibility of FM teams to ensure safe working standards, from a regulatory perspective as well as attracting the human capital. 

Facilities management first started as a back end administrative function to support the running of buildings which include, finished real estate products of offices, retail entities, hotels, hospitals, schools, factories etc.,

The definition of Facilities Management, from Wikipedia, is,

“Facility management (or facilities management or FM) is an interdisciplinary  field devoted to the coordination of space, infrastructure, people and organization, often associated with the administration of office blocks, arenas, schools, sporting complexes, conventional centres, shopping complexes, hospitals, hotels, etc.”

As the definition states, it does cover the holistic picture of clubbing different types of services under one umbrella and offer to end-users…majority of the time, the end-users being the human capital, the services are to be tailor-made from facility to facility, building to building and floor to floor, but ensuring a common goal post to measure the performance.

Facilities management is further divided into the property management and facilities management sections, catering to different types of customers. In the first section, it caters to the developer/builder/owner community ensuring trouble-free services to a large number of clients. These clients are the second section, who manage their own facilities at their own end, like the corporate companies that manage their own office spaces. Thanks to the globalisation and the reach of most of the global companies to the corners of the world….facilities management has seen tremendous growth. A report from S&P has estimated the current facilities management market (including the property management markets), at about US$B396, and growing at the rate of 9% to 32% across the Globe. The lowest being in the developed world and highest in the developing corridors.

Today’s facilities management is on a transformation journey with smart solutions, to reduce the dependency on the manpower and also bring in a consistent platform for managing services. Connected with the internet’s growth and popularity, the tech-savviness is reaching to the lowest person operating in the facilities value chain, and making it easy to look at smart solutions. Also seen are the high profile mergers & acquisitions that are happening in FM world, making the world shrink and shrink further.

For all those new grads coming out of colleges and universities, facilities world offer a great opportunity. One of the key requirement for someone to chose this career is to have a service mindset, which means a positive attitude. If not, it is better to look out for some other career, as the entire career in facilities revolves around creating customer satisfaction, while ensuring the upkeep of properties & facilities.

Written by: Rao SrinivasaEntrepreneur

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