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October 6, 2021

Every business requires an array of services if it wants to operate efficiently and cost-effectively. To achieve this, they need to employ facility management/maintenance services (FMS). This type of service is the maintenance of commercial buildings, covering everything that will keep everyone safe. It includes building maintenance and even vending services and catering. There are two categories of FMS: hard and soft. This, of course, leads to the discussion of hard vs. soft facilities management; what makes them so different?

A brief overview of facilities management

When it comes to any built environment, you want to ensure safety, security, efficiency, and functionality. The best way to attain this is to employ competent facilities management services. This also applies to all types of buildings, infrastructure, grounds, and real estate property.

Depending on different factors of a building, FMS can differ in its approach. They can include various consultancy services, such as space planning and asset surveys, plus services in security, IT, and environment. However, as mentioned before, there are two groups of facilities management services concerning most built environments; hard and soft.

Hard and soft services are both important in making sure that buildings have effective management. They in turn increase business productivity and appease employees and occupants.

Hard

Hard facilities management services refer to fixed physical assets (ex. buildings, intricate equipment systems, and various heavy machinery). There is typically a legal requirement for hard FMS in order to preserve stakeholder welfare. Examples of hard FM services include:

  • Air conditioning systems/HVAC systems
  • Plumbing 
  • Lighting and electrical
  • Building maintenance
  • Mechanical
  • Fire safety
  • Gas and heating

Hard FMS benefits include the following:

  • Lower costs for maintenance: Dealing with problems before asset failure is more economical and trying to resolve it later. An effective method of lowering maintenance costs and improving the bottom line is utilizing preventive maintenance.
  • Better asset availability and reliability: Preventive maintenance services cut down on spontaneous downtimes, thus improving the availability and reliability of assets. 
  • Fewer accidents in the workplace: Hard FMS ensures the utmost safety for employees. Because of this, workplace accidents typically resulting in a reduction of productive hours are minimal.
  • Obeying regulatory requirements: Because hard FMS are non-negotiable, implementing them will help you to evade any issues with the law. Additionally, it will save you plenty of money from non-compliance penalties and fines in the long run.

Soft

Soft facilities management relates to services that are generally people-intensive. The primary goal of soft FMS teams is to carry out soft service tasks to improve the environment of facilities. They aim to create a better place for employees and customers by enforcing a pleasant and efficient space. 

There is technically no requirement by law for soft facility management services, but there are situations where they are essential. Obviously, the specific tasks one should schedule depend on the requirements of the business and its occupants. Some of the most common types of soft FMS include:

  • Grounds maintenance
  • Landscaping
  • Pest control
  • Decorating interior and exterior spaces
  • Waste management
  • Janitorial services
  • Catering services (ex. vending machines and water coolers)
  • Building security
  • Parking spaces
  • Managing the workspace
  • Post management
  • Mail management

The main benefits of soft FMS include:

  • Environmental protection: A business with solid morals will protect the immediate environment and the ones surrounding it. As such, waste management is a vital soft service. This is especially true for companies who are looking to make their operations greener and reduce pollution. 
  • Boost in productivity: Catering, mail management, workspace management, parking services and other similar soft FMS can enhance employee productivity. Rather than waste valuable time, employees can instead relax during their lunch breaks and work on the clock.
  • Visually appealing design: Whether it be a cannabis facility or even a pharmacy counter, design is key. A product or brand’s visual appeal plays a huge role in the buyers’ purchasing decisions. Therefore, many businesses invest time and money into their décor, both interior and exterior.
  • Less external interference: Security services allow managers to perform certain operations without external forces interfering. With camera systems, there is less concern regarding any asset damage caused by theft or vandalism.

The overall importance of hard and soft facilities management

Hard and soft FMS are both crucial in helping a built environment operate smoothly and satisfying the occupants. Combining these elements ensures a functional building, which in turn results in happy occupants and better productivity. To learn more and to get a quote for your next project, contact our Calgary construction location. Also, if you want to get a better idea on why FMS is important and why you should hire professionals for the job, check out our article The Importance of FMS Facility Maintenance Services.