Harmonizing Operations: Best Practices in Soft Facilities Management

Facility Management
Published on:
February 9, 2024
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While not all organizations operate the same way, facility leaders still share a common goal when it comes to facilities management: to work efficiently and effectively, improve their organization’s operating costs, and boost employee productivity.

Industrial facility management is changing with the new workplace procedures, the constant digitization, the new natural green branding, and other problems.

Facility management as well as popular facility management practices such as an FM (facility management) must evolve to keep up with the modern demands.

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The acknowledgment from 75% of FM professionals that sustainability can save large amounts of money speaks to the FM’s role in driving corporate efficiency and financial prudence. Sustainability measures address not only environmental responsibility but also show a strategic role in resource optimization. Environmentally friendly practices and energy-efficient solutions can only be in line with the bottom line by reducing operational costs, and optimizing long-term resource use.

These tasks are divided into two categories: hard services and soft facilities management. The hard services focus on preventative maintenance and other sorts of work, whilst the soft services vary depending on the scenario of relevance. Facilities management may include both hard and soft services that reflect a facility's day-to-day activities. 

Although the above describes the differences between hard and soft FM, What we will discuss in this article is continuing to go more in-depth in soft facilities management, sharing the differences between soft and hard facility management and some practical tips that can help you save time and optimize your resources.

If you’re a Facility Manager, the subject of soft facilities management is not a new topic. However, if you’re new to the field of Facility Management and haven’t heard of hard facility management, let’s define facility management. 

What is Soft Facility Management?

What does the term: facilities mean?

Facilities refers to the physical assets and infrastructure within a space.

This typically includes the buildings, utilities, and equipment, however, we’ll discuss this more later. The facilities need to be managed so that they contribute to portraying the organization in a positive light and help to achieve the organization's objectives in any way possible.

In the context of facilities management, soft services are "non-physical", customer-facing services that contribute to building functionality as well as an individual's comfort and well-being. Soft facility management plans are often non-technical, or at least not explicitly technical, and are provided in-house. Soft services are those that are required for a building to function but have nothing to do with the building's structure. They are services provided by individuals, such as concierge services, cleaning, garbage management, and so on, that are required for the building to function properly.

What is the Difference between Hard Facility Management and Soft Facility Management 

Hard Facility Management 

Hard services in facilities management refer to the actual physical design and make-up of a building. Simply put any “hard” services within the building. It is everything that is structured and unable to be moved. It deals with tangible assets and systems such as HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), plumbing, lighting, and structural elements.

Examples: Repair and maintenance of machinery, building infrastructure, space planning, and equipment upgrades fall under the purview of the hard facility.

Benefit: One of the key advantages of HFM is the ability to implement a planned maintenance schedule across all areas of FM. This means that FM professionals can, for example, radically enhance the energy efficiency of buildings. This could involve something as simple as selecting the best supplier (HFM companies can negotiate contracts and manage procurement from end to end), to avoid heat loss on premises. These measures can improve the environmental footprint and reduce utility bills.

Soft Facility Management

Soft services are important in the facility management plan and it means any non-technical services.

Soft services are services that require soft human relationships like soft management which is provided to customers after giving any technical product.

Office managers usually carry out this soft FM because they know much better about the company’s FM services than their workers and the company’s FM soft service team which is responsible for deltoids with hard services and would be in a position to make it pleasant, healthy, and safe and comfortable as possible in the workplace. 

Essential Soft Facilities Services: Cleaning, security, catering, landscaping, and waste management services.

Benefit: Soft Services are essential in the upkeep of any and every business out there today. As a manager, you may overlook these services but having an employee in a spot that is enjoyable and welcoming is a great benefit. If no one came in and emptied your trash you would be knee-high in the trash, making your entire area unsightly. Moreover, if there is no sound security management, it might result in a theft attempt.

Strategic Planning for Soft Facilities Management

Effective delivery of soft facilities management is key to providing a comfortable, nurturing environment within a facility. To ensure that soft services are working towards not only the mission and vision of the facility management plan but also aligning with the client's needs a strategic plan must be developed. 

How to Create a Soft Facility Management Plan?

  1. Define facility Management  Needs

Explain the clear objectives of the facility management plan, describing the different aims and targets want to achieve from soft services. Define the range of services to be included such as cleaning, security, catering, horticulture, and waste management.

  1. Evaluate your Soft Facility Needs

Evaluate the unique requirements and preferences of their premises users, for instance by surveying, interviewing, or collaborating with different departments to ascertain the needs and wants for Soft Services. Note any particular problem areas or aspects requiring improvement.

  1. Discuss KPI’s

Identify the facility’s key performance indicators to measure the ongoing effectiveness and improvement of soft services. This can be measured by outcomes such as cleanliness scores, incident security reports, and occupant satisfaction surveys.

  1. Allocate Budget 

Allocate soft service financial resources by what’s required and what is expected to be done. A detailed budget should cover expenses for staff, equipment, and supplies, if applicable. On some contracts, there will be third-party service providers. Make sure that the budget aligns with the overall financial strategy of the organization.

  1. Create a facility management template 

A facility management template is a great way to organize planning steps and considerations systematically. With due consideration, sections that should be included in this template are, objectives, what the organization hopes to achieve by doing this needs assessment findings, what information is needed to address this problem, and what can be obtained by using needs assessment findings as the tool, performance metrics, or standards can be shown directly in this template, budget, including what funds are available and other resources that might be involved in the process and an action plan.

 Best Practices in Soft Facilities Management

  • Specifically tailored soft services to meet the needs and preferences of different facility occupants. Understanding the unique requirements of different areas within the facility management plan helps to make sure that the soft service not only delivers effectively but enhances the overall experience of the occupants.
  • To keep up with changing needs and requirements, regularly review your needs, or strategically listen, for soft services and expectancies. By taking a proactive approach and continuing to review this, facilities management is in a good position to continue to adjust soft services delivery to changing frameworks and environments, rising to challenges and maintaining a high level of satisfaction.
  • Keep the lines of communication open between the FM organization and the occupants of the facility. Routine occupancy surveys or town-hall meetings can gauge end users’ concerns and preferences about the work environment of the facility, and foster cooperation for identifying areas of improvement or to confirm the lack of any issues.
  • Additionally, facilitate educational programs in which occupants are informed of the importance of soft services as they, for instance, learn about the relevant waste management practices, security protocols, and their impact on the cleanliness of the environment and how their conducts affect the overall functionality of the facility management plan
  • Use technology to help with soft facility services management to enable a more efficient running of the service. An example of this could be knowing when bins are ready to be emptied or when cleaning has been carried out automatically, which will improve your service and be more resourceful.
  • In cleaning, waste management, and landscaping incorporate eco-friendly practices for environmental conservation. Besides being in line with corporate social responsibility, this practice resonates well with environmentally conscious occupants.

Challenges in Industrial Facility Management

  1. Tailored Cleaning Needs

Industrial facility management often requires specialized cleaning requirements not found in other industries, such as the need to clean around specialized equipment, dealing with hazardous materials, or cleaning in a large open environment. Best practices typically will involve training the cleaning staff on the special demands of the industry as well as the special cleaning and safety requirements of the industry.

  1. Security Risk

Industrial facilities pose heightened security risks that demand a robust security posture in their management. This rapid rise of threat alerts has and will continue to pose problems for security teams. These threat alerts in turn amplify the need to implement effective soft facilities management strategies. These facility management techniques consist of not only refining the security protocols in place and the incident response plans but also incorporating emerging technologies to handle the growing complexity of threat actors.

 Implementing appropriate security measures like access controls, surveillance, and audit trails can go a long way toward addressing these risks.

  1. Emergency Response

You need a coordinated industrial facility management plan for the threats associated with an industrial context – this means looking at what could go wrong, how you might evacuate, and how soft services will assist you in an effective response.

Challenges in Enterprise Facility Management

  1. Diverese facility needs

Enterprise facilities are typically home to a range of distinct enterprises or divisions, resulting in a diverse set of inhabitants with varying wants and demands. The ideal way to address this is to develop a variety of service plans to appeal to these various company kinds, ensuring that your tenants are involved and happy with their options.

  1. Scalability

Large enterprises may have very large and complex facilities and therefore require more sophisticated Soft Services Management. Advanced technology, automation, and strategic planning may be used to manage services at scale.

  1. Budget Allocation 

When faced with financial restrictions, firms must prioritize intelligent resource allocation, creative cost-effective technology, and services that affect what matters most in business.

Services at the Core of Soft Facilities Management

Cleaning Services 

The cleanliness and upkeep of surroundings directly influence the health, satisfaction, and effectiveness of tenants. Regular cleaning boosts the aesthetic presentation while also establishing a sanitary space.

  • Establish an all-inclusive regimen catering to high-traffic sites as well as common areas. 
  • Adopt green cleaning agents to comply with the sustainability vision.

Security Services 

Security is the paramount importance when it comes to occupant safety and asset protection. Having a robust security system in place creates the residents' trust and contributes to a secure work environment.

  • Schedule regular security audits to detect security weaknesses and enhance overall security measures/existing measures.
  • Invest in security personnel training for an effective response during emergencies.

Catering Services 

By providing healthy and delicious meals catering supports occupant wellbeing creating a more engaged and satisfied workforce.

  • Ensure diversity of menu to cater to dietary preferences and restrictions.
  • Survey occupants for feedback, and regularly update policies and procedures.

Landscaping and Green Spaces

 Properly planned outside spaces promote a productive workplace by giving employees a place to rest and work together. Landscaping improves a building’s appearance.

  • Follow environmentally friendly landscape processes such as using plants native to the region and implementing water-saving techniques.
  • Design outdoor sections with features that encourage the well-being of employees.

Waste Management 

Having a well-organized waste management process not only contributes to a sustainable environment More or less 8 % of the global greenhouse emissions are emitted through the food waste.but also results in a cleaner and systematic environment. It demonstrates the commitment of the organization towards responsible practices.

  • Implement a Waste reduction strategy which includes recycling initiatives and responsible disposal.
  • Educate the occupants on the proper waste segregation to get the maximum out of the waste management system.

Why Soft Facilities Management is Important?

Soft services are not secondary to hard services; they are the most essential aspect of an organization's ability to function correctly, which is a great reason why understanding the importance of soft services is crucial to not only facility management but also operation managers and administrative leaders.

Let’s review why soft services are indispensable.

The physical and mental welfare of the occupants is directly impacted by soft services. A clean, secure, and well-maintained environment creates a conducive atmosphere which in turn leads to greater staff morale and productivity.

In addition, the quality of soft services has an impact on how an organization is perceived. A well-maintained building, with effective soft services support, enhances the corporate image and leaves a positive impression on clients, visitors, employees, and others.

On that note, essential facility services elevate the overall operational effectiveness of a property. Covering seamless maintenance timetables to reactive security measures, the services enable a site to run effortlessly daily.

A good workplace culture is fostered by additional features like catering and well-designed outdoor spaces. That, in turn, adds to the productivity of the workers and how long workers stay a part of the workforce, by constructing an environment that fosters the behavior that an employee should feel appreciated and looked after.

The Bottom Line 

Soft facilities management plays a key role in organizational success by determining a firm’s ability to safely provide adequate work environments. Managing multiple objectives including occupant well-being and satisfaction, operational efficiency, and the organization’s image, soft services’ significance is underscored. 

As firms try to build workspaces that boost worker happiness, participation, and overall effectiveness these services are not simply practical, but key factors in the creation of a work atmosphere that supports health, cooperation, and winning.

Xenia offers a comprehensive solution for facilities management, unifying facility operations by integrating inspection, log, SOP creation, and mobile-friendly work order management. From preventive maintenance to housekeeping, Xenia is a single unified platform for all your operations.

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