Though some people think of facilities management as a fairly recent career option, in reality, the role goes back thousands of years. Ever since people first got together to create public buildings, someone has been in charge of arranging the repairs, ordering the supplies and generally keeping everything ticking over.
Although some aspects of the job have changed very little over the years (we’re guessing it was just as difficult to manage busy executives and headstrong employees back in ancient times), other aspects will have altered beyond all recognition. To give facilities managers an idea of where they’ve come from, and to ensure we never take them for granted again, here’s a quick history of the facilities manager.
As civilisations first began to emerge in ancient Mesopotamia (the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in the Middle East), people began to organise themselves into towns, villages and cities, building temples, assembly halls and other public structures as they went.
These important gathering spaces will all have had managers, though it’s unlikely they’d have been in charge of ordering beans for the coffee machine admittedly.
Once the Greeks came onto the scene around 600BC, the number of public buildings, businesses and temples exploded. Highly organised states such as those around Athens would certainly have had facilities managers working to ensure all of the governmental buildings and public spaces ran smoothly.
The Romans needed a vast network of administrative buildings to cater to their enormous empire. These spaces had to been cleaned, repaired and managed in order to ensure the Roman world didn’t crumble.
The Middle Ages to the 20th century
The Middle Ages, or 1086 to be precise, saw the creation of the Doomsday Book, the most ambitious asset register ever created. This was used to tax the whole country, something that wouldn’t have been possible without facilities managers preparing the venues to store all that lovely treasure.
As the British Empire grew and industry began to take off, more and more facilities managers were needed to manage the booming economy. Without their hard work and perseverance, all those warehouses full of spices and ships full of tea may well have ended up lost down the back of the world’s sofa.
1976 to today
One of the most important events in the history of facilities management took place in the 1970s when George Graves met with fellow office administrators from around Houston, Texas and formed the IFMA. This organisation, along with others around the world, has helped to define the role of the facilities manager and give FMs around the world the support and the resources they need to succeed.
If you need a steaming cup of coffee after all that learning, contact us to find out how you can quickly and easily order some of the best beans around for you and your hard working office.