Is it time that facilities managers were given more time to focus on long term environmental goals, rather than just short-term maintenance issues?
Glen Riley, Key Account Manager at Cawleys takes a look at the challenges facing today’s facilities managers.
With the blue planet effect expected to expand even further through the public conscious, and government, the media and all manner of lobby groups calling for a more sustainable future, it’s obvious that businesses have a huge part to play in the green revolution. As well as their obligation to switch to more ethical and environmentally friendly practices, the potential business benefits organisations can glean from promoting themselves as social responsible businesses are ten-fold.
The importance of CSR
Furthermore, with access to information at the tap of a finger or click of a mouse, customers are more aware than ever of a business’s degree of commitment to tackling climate change, reducing plastic waste and much more. If a company’s practices are not in-line with its customers’ ethical morals, it has a problem on its hands.
Considering that sound social and environmental practices are so important, who within a business is truly responsible for ensuring they are introduced and put into practice?
Whilst it is true that some large organisations have an individual or team responsible for CSR, this role can often focus more on the communication of the company’s green credentials, rather than their implementation.
In many cases the responsibility of ensuring a business’s premises and processes are environmentally friendly is increasingly bestowed upon the facilities manager.
It seems obvious that there are both environmental and economic benefits of adopting a sustainable approach to facilities management (FM). But do facilities managers really have the time to adopt this responsibility?
Traditionally facilities management has been focused on ensuring a business’s residence, and the services it uses, are fit for purpose. However, whilst this is still a huge part of the role, it is now expanding to include responsibility for sustainability and the environment.
Many tasks that fall within a FM’s remit can make a real difference to a company’s green credentials. One such element - the reduction of waste and the ethical benefits associated with positive recycling practices - is often one of the most important.
However, for facilities managers to truly add value to this and other areas of their role they need to be given the time to focus more effectively on the issues at hand through research, training and implementation. To expect any facilities manager to switch to green practices without ensuring they are fully equipped to meet expectations is not advisable.
Facilities Management Training
Making a successful switch to sustainable solutions requires knowledge, education and research. Understanding the ways in which a company can reduce its carbon footprint or help to fight global warming can be technical and complicated. Training is vital, not only on the job but also at the point of recruitment. Pro-active employers who have ensured that their facilities managers have all the knowledge and training they need when they start in the position will benefit greatly.
Environmental practices are constantly evolving and developing and there will never be a shortage of new things to learn. As such, starting from a strong base is vital. Unfortunately, many facilities managers are stuck in a cycle of reactive behaviours that could be helped greatly with employer planning. The training itself need not be expensive. A cost-effective solution is to engage with those businesses around you who are experts in their field. One such company is Cawleys. As experts in waste management and recycling we are always more than happy to educate and inform. Whether it’s explaining the benefits of segregating paper and card from general waste, educating on the various plastic types, or providing bespoke training on how to reduce contamination from food waste, there is a lot to be said for tapping into the resource and knowledge that is inherent in suppliers and partners.
It's all in the timing
As well as training and knowledge, facilities managers could also find advantage in having more time and scope to focus on the bigger picture. Often the issues are put to the bottom of the list as they are not considered urgent. This is not ‘wrong’ but it does mean that things are not as right as they could be.
Given the opportunity, well trained and knowlagable FMs are able to identify potential opportunities and promote better practices. Within the waste industry this is especially true of waste segregation which could help companies reduce or avoid fees that are incurred when contamination problems are detected at audit. Taking a pro-active approach would result in cost savings, recycling figure improvements and positive environmental benefits.
If an FM has a good relationship with his or her waste provider they can discuss ideas and ask the right questions. However, with a small amount of training and the right tools the FM themselves will be equipped to uncover improvements and identify cost saving and eco-friendly opportunities much sooner. This would also give the company greater piece of mind that they are doing the right thing, and not just what they are being told is the right thing.
Get in touch today to discover how we can help your facilities management team reach their full 'green' potential.