JLLT salutes facilities management professionals

facilities manager with walkie talkie

The International Facilities Management Association (IFMA) declared Wednesday, May 11, Global FM Day 2022. The purpose is to recognize the contribution of facility management (FM) professionals to the global built environment.

However, not many people understand what facilities managers (FMs) do, and that’s been true for years.

In the early 1990s, Steelcase, the world’s largest office furniture manufacturer, funded a series of “Juggler” videos, which offered a humorous take on the richness and complexity of the facilities managers’ (FMs) job role.

The videos featured comedic juggler Michael Davis, who shared his thoughts in the first video:

Facilities management has a very specific job description. It’s just that nobody knows what it is. You see, an ‘FMer,’ as I like to put it, has to be very familiar with management and facilities, as well as architecture, design, and marketing. And also be an electrician, an engineer, a fortune teller, a gambler, and a magician. Besides that, the job is easy.

Although the videos appear dated (check out the tiny Macintosh computer in the background), the message is still true today. The FM job description just keeps expanding.

But it’s never easy.

FMs today must be tech-savvy and conversant in things like AI and prescriptive analytics. They’re expected to analyze complex capital expenditures, compute ROI, create budgets, and present all three to leadership.

COVID-19 changed facilities management forever

The pandemic amplified the responsibilities of the job. FMs suddenly had to ensure social distancing, sanitization, security, isolation where required, and extensive reconfiguration of office space.

FM roles became more difficult in the healthcare industry especially, which, in the U.S., bore the brunt of the 80 million recorded COVID-19 cases.

Without revenue from elective surgeries, hospitals were forced to reduce expenses by laying off or furloughing nonessential personnel, including hundreds of FM professionals. That left the remaining FMs to work the long, extra hours needed to mitigate a rampaging pandemic.

Per IFMA, the average age of an FM is 50 years old. That means that FMs in their 60s, and in some cases older, were on the job during the pandemic, even though they were statistically the most vulnerable age group for contracting—and dying from—COVID.

The ever-expanding FM job description never anticipated such personal risk; yet, where would healthcare have been without them?

Hail our dedicated facilities management professionals

Michael Davis, the comedian mentioned above, ends the first Juggler video by saying, “Facilities management is knowing everything about everything, being everywhere every minute of every day, every time. Besides that, it’s easy.”

As we ponder that overstatement and the impact of the fifth most-lethal pandemic in world history, it’s important to remember the achievements and sacrifices of the men and women of facilities management. They kept the lights on, the buildings clean, the equipment running, and the employees safe.

We salute them all.


Be sure to check out the IFMA website for ideas on celebrating World FM Day ’22.

JLLT believes that education should be a part of World FM Day ’22. The e-books below will help stakeholders new to facilities management understand the functions central to the FM job role.

The Facilities Managers Guide to Exceptional Asset Management

The Facility Manager’s Guide to Smarter Vendor Management

FM Best Practices for Heroic Work Order Management