Reshaping the future of education facilities organizations

Learn how higher education facilities can modernize and optimize their workforce to thrive in the ever-changing landscape of education.

Higher education facilities management organizations have historically grown organically, but many are looking to plan more strategically and adopt modern practices. Education leaders are keenly focused on both talent attraction and operational efficiency as key goals, and their facilities management teams can contribute to these systemwide goals by re-thinking their own organization and operating model. They can do this by ensuring that the roles, skills, and talent they have in place meets and exceeds the expectations of the end user and delivers facilities services in the most efficient way possible.

To understand how higher education facilities teams can modernize, institutions should ask the following key questions: 

  1. What skills or roles are key to my facilities team?

  2. Which facilities decisions can I centralize versus leave to schools or departments?

  3. What should I continue to deliver in-house versus with a 3rd party?

  4. What is the optimal organizational structure for my team to drive efficiency, collaboration, and productivity?

  5. What metrics should I use to measure the success of my facilities team?

We recently worked with a leading university in the Northeast that engaged us to assess their facilities organizational needs. The assessment uncovered issues with facilities supervisor skillsets, lack of employee recognition programs, and that key leadership roles were missing, which contributed to performance gaps and attrition. The university knows that having a high-performing facilities team aligned to the future of the system, a workplace experience that excites employees and delivers on system expectations, will ultimately save money.

A growing number of education clients are focused on these questions to prepare for the war for talent and a workforce nearing retirement age. Because budgets are always tight in education, any investment in re-defining and re-thinking what the facilities organization of the future looks like must deliver cost savings. This is achieved by acquiring the right talent, in the right places, at the right time. Ensuring that outcome-based metrics are in place for facilities teams is key in monitoring their performance to expected requirements.

The facilities function must acquire the right talent because it has a more visible role than ever before and is essential to align building operations to customer needs. Hiring talent with “soft skills” such as customer relationship management and communication skills, and cross-functional skills such as programmatic skills, data analytics skills, and performance management skills is an effective way to address facility operations through the lens of the customer.

Data and analytics are an essential part of modern facilities management because they are increasingly used to drive facility decisions. For example, using data to understand where and how spaces are used can help institutions make strategic work management decisions. Analyzing historical trends on asset performance can proactively identify failures and prevent them is another way facilities organizations are looking to drive efficiency into their operations. As a result, facilities organizations are re-looking at the following workforce factors:

  • How many people are doing work and can data determine what head count is truly required? Using data and technology to increase operational efficiency will drive down workload.

  • Which headcount can be repurposed from tactical to more strategic tasks? This ultimately impacts the customer downstream as a benefactor of more strategic thought consideration on facility operations.

  • Are there opportunities to train or upskill existing roles to align to future needs?

Educational facilities management teams have many options to consider to right-size their teams and optimize their workforces for the future. If your organization is considering an assessment of your facilities organizational and operating model, please contact us.