FMs and Occupants: A Beautiful Friendship?

It's advice you've probably heard before: get to know your occupants a little better. And with all the tasks on the typical facility manager's agenda, you can be forgiven for asking: Why bother?

Well, how about energy efficiency? Plenty of facility managers have seen the pay-off from efforts to engage occupants in energy-saving strategies. And as building systems become more energy efficient, plug loads come to make up a greater percentage of overall building energy consumption. Tackling those loads is a lot easier when occupants are on your side.

There are plenty of other reasons for facility managers to care about their relationship with occupants. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that technology will be changing the relationship between occupants and facility managers. Occupants have been getting more control over building systems in some facilities. Think operable windows and personal lighting controls. As the new generation of Building Internet of Things systems takes root, that trend will certainly grow stronger, especially in organizations that place a high value on occupant satisfaction.

Even if the top management where you work is more concerned with cutting facility costs than making sure employees are happy with the workplace, keeping occupants satisfied is a matter of self-interest for facility managers. If nothing else, when the people in your building know that you’re looking out for them, they’re less likely to nitpick, which will save both time and stress.

Too often, communication with occupants is limited to complaint and response. Even that communication, frustrating as it can be, is important. But it’s really only the beginning of what could be, under the right circumstances, a beautiful friendship.