Gender fluidity for CAFM: close the gap between hard and soft services
FSI Business Development Manager, Natalie Green, brings us her first blog, 'Gender fluidity for CAFM: close the gap between hard and soft services'.
Let's admit it, sometimes in life it can be easier to achieve targets or goals by playing to gender stereotypes. We all buy into it occasionally, it's how we were programmed, right? In other circumstances, those same stereotypes seem useless. All they do is represent a barrier to achieving the most effective outcome.
Consider sex and selling for instance! At the basic level of male vs female, sometimes gender difference can be very important for marketing a product (humour me, consider toiletries or fashion). Other times it's irrelevant. Think about it, playing to gender stereotypes in order to sell food or property is futile. Gender neutrality is becoming an increasingly important concept in business (think gender fluid cosmetics marketing). It's not just a fashion statement, though, or a trend of the times. I think we are really leaning towards something better; diverse, creative, and accepting.
I know, what has this got to do with CAFM? Well, everything.
Traditionally, FM has always had a gender-type dimension to it; the distinction made between hard and soft services. Hard services relate to the maintenance of the building itself, whilst soft services refers to the maintenance of its occupants: cleaning and catering etc. It sounds all too familiar, doesn't it?
CAFM was initially developed to assist with hard maintenance scheduling, before the evolution of, well, Evolution (if you pardon the pun). We often use the words "inclusive" and "empowering" in professional environments, acknowledging that the thoughts of our industry in its youth should be left in the past. We must learn from the history of our industry and use our experience over the decades of implementing a combination of both service types, together with new ways of developing software and encompassing smart buildings with AI to grow into a truly diverse industry.
In this day and age, CAFM can't be seen as the divider of soft and hard services when it comes to achieving FM goals. Of course, an FM manager's approach may be different depending on whether they're dealing with a hard or soft issue, but when it comes to CAFM, this distinction should be irrelevant. Concept Evolution must and does work fluidly to serve both services and allows them to co-exist as equals under the same roof, to satisfy client and user requirements. After all, user requirements matter, hard vs soft distinctions don't.
Evolution is designed to meet the needs of not only each client, but each user, without having to change the system structure. Isn't that what it's all about? Creating a dynamic system that, with configuration, can follow the growth of your business? Evolution is able to fluidly handle the most critical needs such as event occurrences (inspections etc.) at any frequency and cope with the significant upswings in user interaction (onboarding extra safety patrol officers for one off events).
So, my question now is: in CAFM, do hard and soft gendered tasks even exist anymore, or is that just a thing of the past? As far as we're concerned, our systems should breathe gender neutrality, as should our industry. However multifunctional an FM challenge may be - right up to the level of the most demanding PFI-type, paymech-driven contracts - having to distinguish between the treatment of hard and soft services is irrelevant from the perspective of Evolution; a practice we must continue to push outside of our approach to FM services in CAFM and into the industry.