To get an answer to this question you have to truly define what productive and beneficial means to both the individual and the company they work for.
So for the individual, what should an FM want to get out of their visit?
An FM who is organised (which they all are of course) will have made appointments in advance to talk to people of interest exhibiting at the show, to make best use of time and also have the opportunity to meet like-minded people and share experiences. The presentations and the panel debates if chosen for relevance will offer thought provoking ideas and of course all the above can be taken back to their place of work and used to improve what they do.
When I talk to FMs who attend, that is their main reason for being there.
So how do organisations view such outings for their FMs?
Well it depends not only on the company but also who the FM reports to.
A forward thinking company and manager would always want to get their people to the events that give rise to new products and thinking that will keep them ahead of their competitors and/or provide an improved service for their clients.
Some companies or managers however do not see a value to letting their FMs attend, better that they are at work dealing with day-to-day problems. Missing the point completely that something the FM learns at an event could very well resolve some of those day-to-day problems!
It may also be, that the case for attending is either not put forward or not well made by the FM in which case some training on influencing skills and effective communication is required.
By now you can tell that I am an advocate of time out of the office to learn and understand more about what is possible in FM and I would like to see more FMs at the Facilities Show and other events because sharing knowledge is how we improve what we do, whatever it may be.
To the FMs who attend and their companies who want them to, you will invariably take your skills and business to the next level.
To those who don’t…
To FMs I say, if you only do in your day job what you have always done and don’t look outside for alternatives to improve your service and value to your company, you are losing out.
To companies who don’t see a value in encouraging their FMs to attend, I say, just look at the companies that do.
If you’re attending the Facilities Show with just the aim of selling your products and services, then you might leave feeling disappointed. The majority of attendees are obviously people from the industry. So, from a sales perspective, you could say that it’s really just everyone in the industry trying to sell to everyone else in the industry.
But for people and businesses looking for ideas around best practice and innovation and to discuss hot topics with their peers, the event can be really useful. It is a great opportunity to get your brand out there, and tell people about who you are as a business and what your values are. So while you might not necessarily be doing a lot of selling, you at least have an excellent platform for making your presence known, raising your profile and networking with others in the industry.
Saying that, given the sheer scale of the Facilities Show, with around 18,000 visitors in 2014, it’s definitely worth having members of the sales force take time out of their day-to-day work to be there. It can also be an excellent opportunity for people in senior positions in the business to raise their profile and meet with potential customers and employees.
In the world of HR too, there are a number of big events such as the HR Directors Business Summit, plus many regional and local events. Before an event, it can feel tempting to spend a day in the office working through my to-do list rather than take the time out to attend. But when I’m there I quickly get into the spirit of it all. And I tend to leave with many new ideas around best practice and innovation and having enjoyed networking with my peers and making new contacts.