Facility managers have developed their own individual coping strategies to deal with stress. "Personally, I stay focused on my responsibilities as facility manager and the outcome of what we do," Tetrault says. "I have satisfaction in knowing we make a difference in the care we provide to the community." Tetrault works on being patient and positive and leading by example. "I still love the challenge of the job."
Peterson says he balances his work life with a good home life and satisfying outside activities. "Sometimes you can't leave it, but other days you leave it at work and go home and play with the dog," he says. He also enjoys his job, in which no two days are the same, and there are a variety of problems to solve. "It's a challenge to do more with less; it takes more planning and more creativity to get the job done with fewer people."
Friday notes that job satisfaction among facility managers is high, despite the hardships of the current economic climate, for a number of reasons. One is that facility professionals are used to working hard, and "there is some recognition that this is the way of life, and they have adjusted to it," Friday says.
In a field as diverse as facility management, no single reason can account for the high levels of job satisfaction. But surely Althoff speaks for many others when he says, "I have been blessed with a positive attitude. I love my work, and the people around me keep me lifted up."
While the recession has not made the job of facility managers any easier, it has created new opportunities. Because of the recession, facility managers have had to stretch themselves even more, learn more, and be more creative in getting the various parts of their job done. "[Facility managers] get their hands in a lot of different pots, and you see your corporation or institution in its totality," Friday says. "If you are good at marketing and communication, you can get involved in the strategic business of the company."
Indeed, facility managers who enjoy contributing to an organization's overall mission may find that economic difficulties can open doors. "In times of recession, there are huge opportunities for facility professionals to grow and stretch," says O'Laughlin. "When things are going well, large corporations are hesitant to make changes. The recession is an opportunity to think out of the box and bring in things you are passionate about, such as sustainability, and building as close to net zero as possible."
Maryellen Lo Bosco is a freelance writer who covers facility management and technology. She is a contributing editor for Building Operating Management.
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