Home > Leadership, The Monday Musings Column > Use your environment to help the environment – the ultimate in recycling?

Use your environment to help the environment – the ultimate in recycling?

In Facilities Management (FM) we pride ourselves on our buildings and how we run them, and I think that we have been early adopters and champions of sustainable and environmental issues. But are we doing enough? In terms of what we can do in our own right we probably are close to it, but how much are we influencing the people that we look after?

Whether we are an in house or outsourced FM service provider we are unlikely to be able to bring about significant sustainable changes on our own, but there are ways that we can collaborate with others to influence and be influenced by them. The key to this is, to use the word in its original meaning, our environment.

Consider the environment in which the building(s) we manage and the people who use it live and work in: The local geographic environment. Do we talk to our commercial and residential neighbours on issues of common interest? How about the local authorities; do we have any dialogue with them? What about how people get to work? Some of these issues will fall into the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) remit, so are you talking to them about what FM can offer and finding out what they have on their agenda? There are a lot of opportunities.

Consider the business environment that the people in the building work in. What business are they in? What do they want to showcase? What is the image that they are trying to portray to the outside world? Do you talk to the PR and Marketing people (other than when they want a desk moved)? FM has a lot to offer; we manage a lot of the things that interface with the outside world that can affect image and people’s perception of the company.

Your building’s occupants have an outside life, and that is another of the environment that FM impacts on. We manage the place where these people work for about a third of their day.  We recognise that impact in terms of job satisfaction and people retention, but do we acknowledge that it also has a powerful impact on people’s moods and they way that they will interact with family and friends when they are away from work?

The ripple effect of the things that we do in the building(s) we manage goes out into the world around us, but often we are too involved in managing the splash to see where the ripples go and their impact. If we take that analogy literally, we know that ripples on a pond will cause erosion in the banks, so what impact are our ripples having in our local and business environments?

There is the “I’ve got enough on my plate” argument, but I would counter that by suggesting that getting to grips with some of these issues can take away existing pressure points and give you more time to manage. If your occupants are more content then you’ll have less complaints and the same applies to neighbours. If you’re building good relations with various internal and external groups you’re raising the FM stock and gaining a fan club; neutrals are better than enemies and fans are better than neutrals.

Over the years I’ve run all sorts of schemes, some of which seemed very off the wall to begin with but all paid dividends. There’s not room to list them here, but feel free to ask. Talk to others and collaborate on mutually beneficial projects. Using your environment to help the sustainable and environmental agenda is something to consider: The ultimate in recycling?

  1. November 29, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Buildings play a huge role in our lives. After all all of desire to spend at least some of our day in one!
    For those that work within a building how the building feels and works with us does affect our overall ability to work and how we feel.
    Too little thought is given by many managers to this and your article really should make people think about this.

    • John Bowen
      November 29, 2010 at 3:20 pm

      Hi Roland

      Many thanks for your kind comments, and in your continuing interest in my blog.


      John Bowen

      See who we know in common http://www.linkedin.com/in/johnjbowen

  1. November 29, 2010 at 7:18 pm

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