Introduction to workplace management

Introduction to workplace management

At the end of the course I will know :

  • The position of the work environment in the support functions of a company
  • The objectives of a workplace manager
  • The skills useful for the job
  • The partner actors in the work environment


The work environment, a support function of the company in the same way as HR, CFO, is an integral part of the operating resources of the company structure.
It refers to all the material and human conditions that make up the working environment and can support an employee in his or her daily tasks.

When looking for a new job, good quality of life at work comes second in terms of the most important conditions, just after the job's tasks.It is usually the second largest expense in a company after salaries.

The scope of the function often depends on the size of the company and includes the functions of hygiene, safety, logistics, and in all cases being the guarantor of working conditions in compliance with the law.
The tasks are as numerous as they are varied, making it a constantly changing job that requires constant adaptation to respond to emergencies (e.g. water damage, burnt-out light bulb), to contribute to the well-being of employees (air conditioning, fitting out premises, offering services to the tenant, etc.) and above all to organise spaces, plan and carry out their maintenance, and ensure the safety of people and property, with the best possible quality/price ratio

Scope of intervention

Each company creates a more or less extensive perimeter covering services, real estate, and contracts, without there being a standard perimeter common to all.
There are several distinct points to take into account when defining the working environment.

Points relating to the well-being at work in connection with the working environment:

  • Air conditioning
  • Air quality
  • Brightness
  • Informal spaces
  • Furniture comfort

Regulatory aspects of the working environment:

  • Health and Safety
  • Air treatment: HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning)
  • Physical comfort: noise/odour nuisance, luminosity, etc.
  • Safety: provision of equipment (e.g. defibrillator), training of local safety staff, organisation of evacuation drills, additional training (SST, fire, road safety)
  • Implementation of a prevention plan (e.g. health protocol in case of a pandemic)
  • Security: access control, guarding, anti-intrusion system, etc.
  • The single document for assessing professional risks (DUERP)

The Evolution of the Positioning of the Work Environment in the Company over Time

The 1980s-1990s

The 1980s marked a turning point in the change of customs in companies and in the consumption patterns of the French. Modernisation and electronics began to appear in French companies and with them, new processes and operating methods.

Toyotism, a post-Fordist industrial strategy based on the absence of stocks, just-in-time production of small quantities, and very sharp response to the market, is making its appearance in French companies.

The culture of results was also increasingly important, which encouraged new ills that were unknown at the time (stress, burn-out, etc.)
The traditional vertical hierarchy began to be questioned and replaced little by a horizontal hierarchy.
The 1990s accelerated these changes with the establishment of the European single market and the rise of computers.

New forms of society with more freedom and flexibility for employees continued to arrive and working hours decreased.
At that time, the general service jobs were called Economat or general means, which reflects the accounting view of the function.

The people who occupied these positions had no specific training but were often chosen by opportunity (e.g. a buyer or other executive to be rehired at the end of his or her career, or an executive assistant with a highly developed sense of service). There were no unlimited notebooks and you had to bring in your used pencil to get a new one. Procurement was much less transparent than today.

The function was seen only as an expense and not as a value center.

Years 2000-2015

The arrival of the computer and the internet changed everything.
Working methods and the organisation of the "office" have been strongly impacted:
Need for cabling, network, more electrical and technological installations, new jobs, new organisations: the need for different layouts and new services (printers/copiers, various distributors, etc.)

It was therefore necessary to fit out the workspaces by installing all the infrastructure so that the employees could connect to the network and be autonomous in carrying out their duties and tasks. The jobs of typists and secretaries were transformed at the same time as new digital tools appeared in various functions (e.g. SAP for Finance) or HRIS (Human Resources Information System).
The work environment was on the front line to take charge of space transformation projects and organise these developments.

At the same time, Human Resources, as part of their policy to attract and retain employees, use the quality of their working conditions to promote the company in the recruitment process.

Since 2015 ...

From 2015 onwards, the massive deployment of the internet at the national level combined with new technologies and tools (laptops, tablets, smartphones) that allow remote working makes the possibility of teleworking accessible, tangible, or at least possible.
Companies are therefore considering putting an end to the assigned office and resorting to Flex-office aims to make better and denser use of workstations by sharing them between several employees. Its implementation is specific to each company and each profession.
Even before the pandemic, the increased possibility of teleworking had made companies think about optimising the operating costs of their office space and flex-office was identified as an interesting solution to explore.

And then in 2020 ...

The pandemic comes along and the question of flex-office or telework is no longer relevant.
The question now concerns their organisation, both in terms of negotiations with staff representative bodies and the choice of the digital solution (or not) to be put in place to manage this new work organisation.

This organisation is the responsibility of Human Resources and the Work Environment is the HR tool for matching facilities with agreements made with employees and their representatives.
During the crisis, the working environment proved to be an essential pillar of the company's operations, just like the nursing staff, the maintenance staff, and the cashiers.
When it came to resuming activity and setting up the health protocols, the work environment answered all these questions, making it possible to set up the health protocols: the number of workstations, how many people in how many square meters, in the meeting rooms, etc.

In the same way that they set up these safety conditions, they had to communicate them to those who were going to reintegrate these spaces (plans, circulation zones, limitation of the number of people per room, etc.) and ensure the means of respecting the instructions (distribution of masks, hydroalcoholic gel, etc.)

In 2022

In light of the working conditions forced by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Work Environment is now recognised as a strategic function to bring to life the key work tool for any company, namely its premises and in particular its tertiary premises.
However, it does not yet have the essential means to carry out its missions efficiently, and in particular, the information needed to manage it, namely easy access to its plans and operating data.

This difficulty in accessing information is mainly due to a lack of digitalisation of data.

Beyond this lack of digitisation, access to plans has always been a difficulty for the Working Environment. Indeed, plans are mainly generated by AutoCAD - a solution designed for architects - a tool that requires knowledge of both building design and the use of complex software.
Thanks to the development of new technologies, it is now possible to use solutions that are more accessible to the Work Environment professions and with a high return on investment.

Now, digital solutions, whether they are connected objects (sensors, digital labels, etc.) or service solutions (reservations, incident reporting, etc.), will act as Work Environment assistants.
We are at the dawn of a new operating mode for the Work Environment where new technologies will have to be implemented while ensuring that they remain "masters" to guarantee their usefulness and efficiency.
This revolution in practices is to be associated with a possible evolution of the function towards even more advanced outsourcing of Work Environment functions, including its management.

Work Environment Ecosystem

The stakeholders and their mission.

  • The Facility Manager

Often with a service provider contract, the Facility Manager has an essential role in the organisation of an FM contract as he must ensure the proper management of all services attached to the site. The role of the FM is wide-ranging, ranging from the technical management of facilities to the supervision of service providers (security, cleaning, reception, etc.), but may also involve managing general services or the working environment.

The Facility Manager's tasks are numerous:

  • Analysing the company's needs and planning the management of resources;
  • Defining maintenance programs for the company's spaces, structures, and installations;
  • Establishing operating procedures and monitoring their correct application;
  • Coordinating staff activities;
  • Managing the demands and needs of users on the site, as well as proposing the implementation of improvement plans;
  • Monitoring compliance with health, safety, and environmental regulations;
  • Technical and budgetary reporting to management or the client;
  • The search for suppliers and external companies to entrust with maintenance activities and soft services;
  • Communication with tenants and management on interventions and changes.
  • The Office Manager

The Office Manager has a multi-purpose position in a medium-sized company.He/she is responsible for relieving his/her line manager of certain responsibilities such as the management of general services or the administrative management of personnel/suppliers.
Daily, he/she is responsible for the smooth running of an office, its coordination, and supervision.

The Office Manager's tasks are numerous:

  • Administrative follow-up of the various departments and service providers
  • Processing mail
  • Receiving telephone calls
  • Organising the structure's agenda
  • Preparing orders for office supplies
  • Managing the budget and monitoring calls for tender
  • The Workplace manager

Workplace managers are the guarantors of the social, economic, and environmental performance of the company.
Behind the title of Workplace manager, there are many formulations corresponding to the specific situations of each organisation: property manager, services/general resources manager, site manager, etc.

Depending on the culture of each company, the Workplace manager is also called "Facility Manager" when he/she applies a particular management concept of outsourcing or subcontracting all or part of the "support" functions necessary for the operation, maintenance, and upkeep of a property complex in operation.

They are responsible for :

  • The development and implementation of the company's strategy in terms of property management and associated services: infrastructure maintenance, implementation of the security policy for goods and people.
  • Multidisciplinary teams of employees and service providers on site.
  • Health, safety, environment, and compliance with regulations and standards
  • Information for staff representative bodies on working conditions (e.g. m²/persons, the safety of goods and people, health protocols, etc.)
  • Non-production purchases: purchase of goods and services (call for tenders, negotiations, contractualisation, etc.).
  • Implementation of various services and equipment for tenants so that they can carry out their work in the best possible conditions (copiers, drinks dispensers, concierge services, services for occupants, etc.).
  • Communication-related to all the actions carried out by the department with all the company's employees and related services (financial, legal, IT, etc.).

Objectives of the Workplace manager

Workplace managers are involved in the social, economic, and environmental performance of the company.

They are the guarantors of the health, safety, and quality of life at work of employees. They also ensure that environmental regulations are applied and respected.

In the short term, when they arrive in a new company, the Workplace managers’ main tasks are to set up the management of the support services required for the operation of the various businesses.
A Workplace manager will be able to rely more and more on digital tools enabling him to manage requests and follow-up between internal or external parties.
In the medium term, he/she will be able to create a database and use the indicators created by all his/her actions to continuously improve the working environment.

Career development

Career development of the Workplace manager?
After several years of experience, the Workplace manager can become a multi-site manager or even a property manager.

The future of workplace management


The numerous processes created thanks to digital tools and user information will be able to be used by IA to automate certain orders, requests, or even preventive maintenance plans.


The collaborative culture will continue to grow within companies. Vertical hierarchies and silos will become marginal and symptomatic of organisations that have not made their digital transformation.

Quality of work life

The quality of life at work of employees will continue to be more and more important in organisations. The ecological aspect should also become much more important in the coming years
The working environment has become a tool in HR policy for recruiting and retaining employees.

Improving the working environment is now a priority for business leaders who see increased employee satisfaction at work as a way of increasing productivity.