From Space to Place

Welcome to the era of Total Facility Experiences

The facility services industry has gone through a number of stages over the past forty years. Initially, organizations were contracted to provide tactical, discipline-focused services such as mechanical or electrical maintenance with a focus on minimizing service delivery costs. During the 2000’s and through to today, the industry evolved to provide more bundled, operationally-focused services such as firms that specialized in offering reactive or pre-planned maintenance across several service areas and asset types.

Now, the facility services industry is undergoing another evolutionary push. This time, the change is towards being a strategic partner to clients, offering a more digitized integrated facility management, focused on delivering experiences of place, instead of just space. This change is being driven, in part, by the need to provide facility end users with engaging experiences that drive facility usage, as well as meeting the strategic facility objectives of service provider clients.

In addition to the evolution of the facility services industry, the technology landscape encountered by facility services firms has also changed over the years. This progression began with the mainframe era, progressed towards personal computers and onwards to the use of mobile devices everywhere. Along the way, pneumatic building controls gave way to Direct Digital Controls (DDC).

Now, technology is ubiquitous. It is an indistinguishable part of society, embedded in almost everything and expected by end users. Technology has moved from isolated mainframes for accounting purposes to smart things, such as intelligent air conditioning and heating, that can communicate and interact with building operators and users. DDC building systems are giving way to Internet Protocol (IP) enabled systems and a wide variety of digital tools that enable personalized building experiences.

Collective places replace individual spaces


The era of Total Facility Experiences is upon us. Building user expectations for what constitutes an accepted built environment experience are being derived from a range of sources that include start-up culture, hospitality, and co-working. Research done by workplace furniture and consulting firm Knoll , finds that organizations are looking to industries that have made the early leap to experiences to solve challenges they now face in an increasingly mobile and virtual work environment. Many of these challenges focus on appealing to new talent , supporting group-based knowledge work, and justifying a physical facility existence when on-site attendance is not always necessary.

Another challenge for facility service providers is that, as David Gooderham, Global Account Director for WSP UK states, ‘The workplace is no longer just the one place you go to every day. It could be anywhere: a park, a bench, a restaurant table, a client office or the gym. It’s all workplace now.’

Except now, all of these places can be co-located, in an experiential environment designed to attract users each day through the experiences they will encounter (see Figure 1). For facility service providers, the focus is shifting from one of providing services to individual spaces, to one of placemaking – facilitating the physical embodiment of a company’s culture and the experience of that culture by clients, their employees, and their visitors. The workplace is no longer a space just for working and being productive behind a desk, but is now a place to build and extend relationships and a shared sense of community. The demands on facility service providers to help provide and sustain client culture, through a total experience strategy, will require an expansion of skills, processes, and technologies used to deliver services.

Figure 1: Experienced-based building environments

Illustration about Experienced-based building environments


Source: Knoll, Planon

Don’t stand around waiting for the right time – the right time is now!


The intersection of interactive technologies and strategic, experienced-based IFM services poses challenges that will need to be overcome if a facility service provider is to benefit from the new experience-based opportunities being created. Overcoming these will require taking a close look at their processes, employees, and technology solutions, but as a facility service provider, you don’t have to do this alone.
For more information on the new era of Total Facility Experience, please read our whitepaper: Total Facility Experience: the route to frictionless client satisfaction or contact Planon directly to discuss how we can support your Total Facility Experience aims.

About the author

Derrek Clarke | Product Marketeer

Derrek Clarke has over 15 years of experience in the building industry. Derrek is a registered architect in the US with project design, coordination, and construction experience in the healthcare and airport sectors. He has also held senior building technology research and consulting roles with Verdantix and Global PropTech. Currently, he is a product marketer at Planon responsible for the positioning of solutions for the facility service provider market.

More posts by Derrek Clarke

Share this article