3.3 Four Questions for Forty Years of FM

Barry Varcoe

I started my first student summer job during the early 1980s in the mail room at the UK headquarters of an international chemicals business. I had no idea then that it was the start of a career entwined with “facilities.” Neither did I realize that I was witnessing the early gestation of a new industry. It is difficult to remember fully just how different life was then. After all, at that time the first conversations and imaginative ideas about how the “internet” and “world wide web” would change our lives were still at least 10 years distant in the future, if not more. Amongst my daily tasks as a mail room operative was the collection and distribution of the nonstop feed of messages spewing out from the array of telex machines, as well as retrieving and delivering urgent documents fast-tracked around the building in small cylindrical capsules within a pneumatic pipe distribution system.

Fast-forward 40 years and how the world has changed in so many ways. But, as far as the facilities industry is concerned, is it worrying that some of the most important questions facing the early pioneers all those years ago are still pressing and relevant today? Is this evidence that not much has progressed, or is it more the case that the industry has answered the questions well each time they were asked, but the relentless pace of change has soon altered the context and thereby reset the problem? Forty years on, and after a careers worth ...

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