Facility E Connect

Facilities Management - New Vistas, New Frontiers

We spoke to Architect Jit Kumar Gupta, Chairman, Chandigarh Chapter, Indian Green Building Council, who has more than half a century professional experience in Architecture, Urban planning and Architectural Education. In this interview he brings out several important facets of Facilities Management and its pivotal role in maintaining built environments, nurturing workplaces, creating employee experience and helping organisations grow.

Interviewed by Padma Ramakrishnan

Your views on the Connect between Architecture and Facilities Management.

Architecture and facilities management has great connectivity, because both operate in the domain of built environment. While architects focus on planning and designing of built spaces, Facility managers try to maintain those spaces to make them more productive, livable and sustainable. In fact role of architects and facility managers need high degree of synergisation in order to create qualitative and state of art built spaces; improve indoor environment; making people healthy and more productive; besides improving operational efficiency of the organization. Synergisation can also help in minimizing the operational cost for the organization and making optimum use of the available indoor space. In fact facility managers can help architects in improving the planning of indoor spaces, making them more qualitative and rational through better understanding of the role and importance of different spaces to be provided. Organizations taking up the creation of their own built spaces must ensure that architects are made to interact with facility managers before undertaking the design of the buildings. This would help architects, appreciate and understand the spatial requirement of the organization in a holistic manner and design the buildings accordingly. In the case of retrofitting of the buildings, rented by the organization, facility managers can help architects in better redesigning the internal spaces, involving minimum cost and minimum additions and alterations.

Is Facilities Management being Given its Due in India?

Facility management remains a new and emerging field in India. Despite its critical and ever widening role of the sector in the context of built environment and efficient operation of the organizations, it has not been given due recognition. In majority of cases, facility management remains highly fragmented and unprofessional, run largely on subjectivity and in an ad-hoc manner. But looking at the ever widening role of facility management, in terms of promoting functionality, comfort, safety and efficiency of the built environment, by integrating people, place, process and technology, one can understand that it needs to be made and treated like an independent profession requiring trained professionals for manning the task of facility management. Globally, facility management is widely recognized for its role and importance in efficient operation and the management of the organizations/institutions, but in India the concept is yet to catch the attention of the corporate sector. With large number of multi-nationals coming in India and setting up their Indian operations, demand for facility management has been on the rise. The profession is bound to have bright future in the years to come, considering the fact that India is projected to be the third largest economy of the world and more than 700-900 million square meter of built space is needed annually in urban India, to meet the space requirement of shelter and working.

FM - The Focus Areas. Where do you see the Future?

Facility management is known to have connectivity with large number of professions involved with; ensuring comfort; looking after the people; promoting safety ,security and efficiency of the workforce and the organization assets and making value addition to the built environment. Accordingly, profession works in tandem with professions of architecture, engineering, services providers, security, technology, operations, maintenance and upkeep of buildings etc. Looking at the present and future contexts, operational domain of the facility management will not remain confined merely to four walls of buildings. It is likely to extend far beyond the buildings, to impact communities and cities, both locally and globally. Technology will be the game changer and would play major role in expanding the operational domain of the facility management, connecting it with people, buildings, environment, safety, organizations and communities. Automation of the sector will be the focus area involving managing activities with minimum human intervention. Facility management will face major challenges in terms of promoting operational efficiency; improving productivity of the organization using state of art technologies involving IOT and ICT. Accordingly, profession will have to reinvent and redefine itself through the use of technologies’

Sustainability and FM - What Should be the Focus areas in your Opinion?

Sustainability, as an issue, as an option and as a strategy has been gaining currency in order to make this world safe, resilient and resource efficient. Even seventeen sustainable goals enunciated by UNO, has mandated all nations to promote sustainability in general and in the buildings ,in particular, by making them zero energy buildings by the year 2050 .Considering the entire context, promoting sustainability remains at the core of theory and practice of the facility management. No facility management can lead to optimization unless it is made sustainable. Operational domain of the facility management remains essentially the built environment and buildings are known for their dualities and contradictions. If buildings provide optimum, safe working and living conditions for human beings , they are also known to be large consumers of energy and resources besides generators of waste . Buildings are also responsible for creating heat island and promoting global warming. They also remain polluters of the environment and ecology. Accordingly, if buildings are to made energy efficient, resource efficient and providers of optimum living and working conditions, they need to be made green and sustainable. Accordingly, achieving sustainability shall remain at the core and the theme of all facility management ,ethics and practices.

How do you see Technology playing a Major Role in both FM and Sustainability?

Using technology on large scale appears to be the new normal, particularly looking at the abnormal situation created by the COVID 19, which has changed the entire context of the human living, working, interacting and socializing. Considering the need of keeping social distancing and minimizing the human contacts, technology is needed to help redefine the human fabric and its operations to achieve the objectives of limiting human interventions .Limiting the human contacts; promoting effective and efficient management of buildings and facilities, would require higher order of automation. Technology would need to be embedded in all building operations, including facility management to make them sustainable, safe and secure. Technology is known to make work places operationally efficient, more sustainable and least consumers of energy and resources. Looking at the new agenda of office functioning, with majority of persons working on virtual basis from home, technology will have to be leveraged for enabling effective and efficient virtual working and integrating virtual working with real time working of the organization. With changing pattern and norm of working, involving lesser human contacts, large office space will remain unused due to lesser people working physically. Technology will be needed for facility management to achieve cost-effectiveness in all its operations. Making work places safe for real time working ,would also need high degree of building automation involving touch-less doors, windows, toilets ,electrical appliances, wash basins, water closets, taps etc. Sensors would be needed on large scale for effectively and efficiently managing the facilities in the organization.

Any Other Key Areas you Would like to Highlight.

Looking at the prevailing scenario, facility management is passing through a period of enormous stress and strain. With cost cutting becoming the order of the day, sector will have to reinvent and redefine itself to remain relevant, sustainable and cost-effective. Health and safety will remain the guiding parameters of facility management. Redesigning and retrofitting of built spaces will emerge critical areas of operation. With buildings and facilities undergoing more automation, role of technology will become critical. Technology will be needed to make the entire gamut of facility management, not only more effective and efficient but also cost-effective, time-efficient, transparent and productive , involving minimum manpower. From merely operating in the area of building maintenance, upkeep, safety, security etc sector must graduate to become driver of automation of office operations; working with architects for designing/ optimization of spaces ;improving indoor quality of air; promoting health, wellness and well beings of the manpower engaged in organization; improve productivity , promoting building automation, making buildings green, promoting sustainability and evolving efficient real estate models. In addition, professional courses in the universities need to be run to produce quality professionals to man the sector and make it more rational and sustainable. Sector must be opened to attract architects , engineers, service providers, persons with soft skills in ICT,IOT,management skills etc to make professional most vibrant and innovative. Despite existing challenges, profession remains highly relevant and shall have greater role to play in; making organizations and built environment, operationally more efficient, more productive, cost-effective, and sustainable besides promoting national economy and economic eco-system..

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