The principal difference between hard and soft facilities management is that hard management will relate to looking after the building, whereas soft facilities management is about those services that consider the welfare of staff.
So, let us consider hard vs soft facilities management as our focus for this article.
Hard Facilities Management
There is a crossover between hard and soft facilities management when it comes to HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and air conditioning) systems. They maintain the temperature inside a building that creates the environment needed for machinery to work efficiently.
However, they are also responsible for keeping staff healthy and working more effectively too. This is because HVAC systems can help with fatigue by giving employees a better quality of air to breathe.
Those who are asthmatic will benefit greatly from working in an environment that has an HVAC system installed.
Other hard facilities will include those relating to electricity, plumbing, and maintenance of a building.
These types of services will need to be carried out by professional tradesmen to ensure the quality of workmanship necessary to protect employers and employees by standing up to health and safety policies.
Soft Facilities Management
Any services not deemed vital to the running of the business but which improve the working experience for staff are considered ones that relate to soft facilities management.
These will be services such as those that relate to catering. Although a member of staff can go out and buy lunch, or bring their sandwiches in, it is a nice touch by an employer when food is available on the premises to eat.
A canteen can be seen as a perk of employment and a good retention move that reduces staff turnover rates. Also, rather than provide a small kitchen space to eat, it is inviting when a company has a spacious area for staff to enjoy their lunch break.
Waste management and cleaning are services that make a workspace pleasant to work in. Any rubbish that is allowed to build up for too long will, for instance, soon start to smell unpleasant. Cleaning will remove dust and can be a service provided more regularly to the benefit of staff with dust allergies.
The décor can affect the mood of employees because, as we know with our home interiors, certain shades can influence emotions. Orange, for instance, is good for creativity and resourcefulness.
So, these are both things that will be important for businesses that rely on that kind of thinking from their workers. Like orange, yellow is also linked to creativity. Optimism too.
We all want our workers to think positively because this then influences everyone they come into contact with. It is likely to improve productivity when you have a happy workforce and also influence customers or clients looking to do business with a company through those individuals.
How Facilities Management Has Changed
Technology has played its part in helping with both hard and soft facilities management. It has helped particularly with soft services that will also include security services.
These are beneficial to both companies and employees. Companies can protect valuable equipment from potential theft and vandalism and employees can feel safer when there are CCTV cameras and monitoring systems in operation. It is like having another person looking after a company’s interests.
To conclude, hard and soft management has become easier with technology, but breaks down into whether the services relate more to the company’s building, and so are essential.
Or they will become more optional when they relate to enhancing staff welfare and creating a pleasurable environment in which to work.
Sometimes, both are involved, such as an HVAC unit that will take care of temperatures but also ensure air purity and so be directly linked to better employee health and wellbeing.
It is for a company to manage absenteeism within its workforce and to think about what might be causing that.
There is a lot to manage with a business and a knowledge of the difference between hard and soft facilities management is an important part of this.