Understanding the Real Difference Between Hard and Soft Facilities Management

The nature of facilities and property management is dynamic and ever-changing. Between meeting safety regulations and ensuring systems are functioning at an optimum level, managing a facility is no easy feat. Not to mention that every building, room, and worksite has its own character, quarks, and unique needs.

Whether you’re new to facilities management or a seasoned pro, you probably know that most maintenance functions can be broken down into two categories: Hard and Soft facilities management.

Let’s review the differences between the two and why balancing both is essential to your organization’s operations.

What is Hard Facilities Management (FM)?

Hard FM services are the “core services” in regards to the physical assets connected to a facility. Typically, these are the functions and services that are “non-negotiable” as they can have a significant impact on a property’s structural integrity, its largest investments, and the safety and welfare of employees and visitors.

Some examples include:

  • Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning/Cooling (HVAC)
  • Utility Equipment Maintenance
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Fire Safety Systems
  • Lighting
  • Mechanical
  • Building Maintenance
  • Generator Maintenance

What is Soft Facilities Management (FM)?

Soft FM, on the other hand, is considered to be more for general well-being and comfort, rather than structural integrity. These are the services that improve a building’s security and the comfortability of employees, guests, and customers.

As such, these services can be deemed as “non-essential”. But let’s be honest–in today’s environment, these “non-essential” services are actually quite vital because of the experience they create for employees and customers. This is important because the experience of a facility can impact employees, visitors, shoppers and their willingness to advocate for a company or store. When Soft FM functions are cared for, a facility fosters a good environment which improves employee retention as well as customer loyalty.

Some examples include:

  • Landscaping & Snow Removal
  • Cleaning & Janitorial
    • Porter Services
    • Restaurant Equipment Cleaning
    • Duct Cleaning
    • Window Cleaning
    • COVID Cleaning
  • Waste Management & Trash
  • Biohazard
  • Parking Lot & Road Maintenance (Street Sweeping)
  • Power Washing
  • Locksmith
  • Pest Control
  • Security

Other Key Facilities Management Functions

Because facilities management is such a diverse and multifaceted job function, there are many projects that fall outside of the two distinctions above. Two key areas are Building and Construction as well as Energy and Environmental projects.

Building and Construction services are essential to the functional and structural aspects of the facility. These services can affect the design, layout, and function of the facility. While not considered directly “Hard FM,” they often accompany many of the functions of Hard FM.

Some examples include:

  • Remodeling
  • Renovation
  • Carpentry
  • Roofing
  • Handyman
  • Signage
  • Doors & Roll Up Gates
  • Glass installation
  • Board-ups

Energy and Environmental services are those that promote sustainability within a facility and the conservation of the space and resources that are used each and every day.

Similar to Soft FM, these functions are deemed “non-essential” but by today’s standards are modern convenience functions that today’s employees and customers come to expect.

Some examples include:

  • Energy Management
  • LED conversions
  • EV Chargers
  • Energy Storage Systems
  • Recycling Programs
  • Solar

Building Synergy in Facilities Management

Both Hard and Soft facilities management services are integral to ensuring a safe and well-functioning facility. While they address specific areas and needs of a facility, they work cohesively to deliver an experience that employees, guests, and customers can safely enjoy.

At NFD, we specialize in both Hard and Soft FM solutions as well as Building and Construction and Energy and Environmental services. Whether your needs are indoors or outdoors, essential or negotiable, let NFD be a trusted partner. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help take your facility to the next level.