We spoke to Mahender Singh R., Director – IFMA, India to understand International Facility Management Association’s (IFMA) global objectives, their focus areas post-COVID, various training programs they plan to introduce/have introduced to enhance preparedness of facilities managers in maintaining industrial hygiene and also their plans to further spread awareness around IFMA’s activities in India.
Interviewed by Adeesh Sharma
Please tell us about IFMA and its various objectives, globally.
For 40 years, IFMA’s mission has been to advance the professional discipline of facility management (FM) worldwide through credentialing programs, educational courses, networking, research and knowledge sharing. IFMA is the world’s largest and most widely recognized international association for facility management professionals, supporting more than 23,000 members in more than 100 countries.
Specifically, IFMA India is the premier resource for facility management professionals to optimize their facilities, teams and workplace projects in the world’s second-most populated country. As members of IFMA India, facility management professionals have access to knowledge platforms, by way of education, chapter workshops, networking opportunities involving professionals, subject matter experts, through associates who are directly and indirectly associated with the industry.
What are the focus areas of IFMA post-COVID-19?
The facility management industry is ideally positioned for dealing with all the new requirements from COVID-19. In all parts of the response, reentry and reimagination phases – FM has been quick to respond and close (or limit access to) the workplace, while also ensuring the functionality and safety of building systems. FM is instrumental in reopening and returning people to the workplace and is critical to designing and aligning the workplace and wherever people gather through COVID-19 and beyond.
In response to the worldwide pandemic, IFMA worked quickly and thoroughly to provide useful resources and safe learning opportunities for managing needs in your facilities and communities.
The Coronavirus Preparedness Resource Center is a comprehensive source for the latest COVID-19 information. The entire FM community built this center into a robust collection of articles, webinars, guidelines and tools.
IFMA and the FM Research and Benchmarking Institute launched a series of online webinars addressing how COVID-19 has affected FM jobs, industry and lives; what resources and practices have helped in preparedness efforts; and what facility management must do moving forward.
In the post COVID-19 world, FMs must encourage social distancing in the workplace and design spaces where people can live, work and play safely. FM’s new task is to de-densify space while proactively monitoring health and safety. This will involve working with corporate real estate, property asset and management, as well as human resources and information technology departments to understand the technology requirements, opportunities and how FM can bring an improved people-focus to the workplace.
What kind of guidance would you provide facilities managers to ensure well-being of employees?
In addition to IFMA’s Coronavirus Resource Center, IFMA has several resources for FMs to learn and implement safe workplace strategies.
IFMA’s Knowledge Library IFMA’s FMJ Professional Development Credentials and Continuing Education IFMA Engage Network opportunities
Any new training programs you plan to introduce/have introduced to enhance preparedness of facilities managers in maintaining industrial hygiene?
Since the pandemic, IFMA has offered the FMP® Virtual Courses for professionals within facility management and related industries.
IFMA’s FMP is an assessment-based certificate program for FM professionals and industry suppliers looking to increase their depth-of-knowledge in the four core FM topics deemed critical by employers: Operations and Maintenance, Project Management, Finance and Business and Leadership and Strategy. The virtual classes are taught by an IFMA Qualified Instructor and students have the opportunity for questions and answers and follow-up collaboration with the instructor.
For many years, IFMA has also provided its members with online offerings, including video courses and distance learning. These options not only provide opportunities for FM professionals to enhance their skills at their own pace, but they can do so in the safety and comfort of their own homes or office.
Also, IFMA has formed partnerships with ISSA, ASHRAE and AFE, freely sharing information, practices and subject matter that helps FMs stay abreast of the latest ways to keep their buildings and tenants as safe as possible.
How do you plan to further spread awareness around your activities in India?
India is a matured market for facilities and has humungous FM operations spread across its metros and Tier 2 cities, in terms of capability, competence and intellectual knowledge and is advancing every year with changing operations scope, adopting new age methods, technologies etc.
However, the market is now seeking to look at obtaining qualifications and add more knowledge to upgrade and further their horizons into newer areas of FM&RE operations. IFMA India focus has been on education currently to match these demands. We have been spreading the FM education awareness across cities and now have also commenced our Education offerings with University accredited PG programs.
In the coming days we will have more focused approach to sector specific knowledge enhancement by creating more and more knowledge sessions, credentials, certification programs, adding councils and communities across these sectors. IFMA India is seeking SME`s and volunteers from the fraternity of people, end users and associates alike, who would want to take active participation steering these councils and communities and be part of the awareness that we are trying to create that each council and community is unique and needs specialization and fits into the cultural competence in its region.
IFMA India hosts regular chapter events in its chapter cities, and conducts city centric credential programs, open for IFMA India members and invitees. We also create awareness through Topics that are concerning, trending and need of the hour in these chapter events apart from bringing specific training to organisations that the corporate wants their employees to acquire knowledge.