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Blog

Moisture Management

Facility managers are responsible for managing moisture in their facilities. Proper moisture management involves recognizing your facility’s moisture vulnerabilities, establishing a plan and employing routine maintenance and inspections. The best mold and moisture prevention plans are a combination of both proactive and reactive measures because no single action can completely eradicate the risk of mold spores.

Recognizing Moisture Vulnerabilities

Moisture leads to the growth of molds like Stachybotrys, Penicillium and Aspergillus. These seemingly minor issues can turn disastrous and impact the health of your employees, damage property and cost your business. Surprisingly, molds can cause people to get very sick. Short-term immediate health consequences include symptoms like headaches, allergy attacks and other flu-like symptoms. Left unchecked, continuous exposure to molds may cause neurological diseases, severe respiratory infections and even cancer.

The financial ramifications of failing to properly manage moisture may include lost productivity, damaged property, liability expenses and disruptive clean-up activities. Mold clean-up procedures are expensive because mold spores can spread and colonize unless it is completely contained and removed. You’ll need to hire an expert drying company. For all of these reasons, facility managers need to prioritize moisture management.

Establish a Plan

Facility managers need to develop and establish a working plan for moisture management. Moisture usually enters a facility through air movement, liquid leaks, absorption or diffusion through building materials. Moisture management starts with the building of your facility. Different resources like water vapor diffusion barriers and capillary breaks can be integrated into the building. Next, facility managers will need to establish clear expectations on who will inspect and maintain the resources dedicated to managing moisture. This may include housekeeping staff or third-party contractors.

Facility managers or their assigned staff will need to manage the interior relative humidity to ensure moisture doesn’t harm the facility conditions, perform up-keep on various resources and routinely inspect areas vulnerable to moisture build up. Your moisture management plan should include plans on how to respond if mold is discovered in your facility. The best moisture management plans should include both proactive measures and solutions for reacting if moisture buildup is found.

Maintenance and Inspection

While there is no single maintenance or inspection step that can completely prevent moisture problems, a consistent and steady application of a variety of maintenance and inspection steps can prevent your facility from suffering a disastrous mold or mildew problem. Routine inspections are necessary because mold can grow when moisture is present. Leaky pipes may go unnoticed and develop into an enormous dangerous problem. Water can also be introduced to areas when individuals accidentally leak or spill liquid and fail to properly clean it up.

Facility managers must rely on efficiently managing housekeeping duties to ensure that liquid spills are cleaned up correctly. The biggest reason that routine inspections are needed is because moisture gets into areas simply during normal occupancy. Water vapor can seep into buildings through building materials, condensation or on tracked in on the shoes of employees. Facility managers can’t completely moisture-proof buildings, so it’s crucial to implement a routine maintenance and inspection routine. 

Without a proper maintenance schedule, the resources you’ve dedicated to preventing moisture are likely to degrade and become inefficient. Air-conditioning units need their filters replaced on a regular basis, temperature control systems need to be tested each month and the condensate drainpipes need to be flushed routinely.

In the winter, thermostats must be set above 55 degrees even in unused facilities to prevent water pipes freezing and bursting. In the summer, thermostats should not be set higher than 80 degrees to prevent humidity buildup. Many facility managers find it more efficient to contract these moisture management maintenance schedules out to third-party specialists. 

Moisture management planning involves recognizing your facility’s moisture vulnerabilities, establishing a plan and employing routine maintenance and inspections. Proactively protecting your facility from moisture build up will not always be enough to prevent mold, so you need to have dedicated plans for reacting to mold or moisture problems.

While some facility managers may not prioritize moisture management, failing to do so can cause your entire facility and workforce to be out of commission. Don’t let your facility remain vulnerable to the natural occurrence of moisture buildup and mold. Instead, start working on your moisture management plans now to prevent your facility from getting taken over by mold.

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How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster

The Federal Emergency Management Agency reports that an overwhelming 40 percent of small businesses will never recover and reopen after experiencing a major disaster. Facility managers are responsible for preparing for the worst and safeguarding the business from potential natural disasters. Facility managers play a pivotal role in formulating, communicating and updating preparedness plans.

Recently, a wave of natural disasters has adversely impacted businesses through the nation, and facility managers have been working together to formulate better strategies for emergency preparation. 


Emergency Preparations

One of the most immediate concerns for facility managers in natural disaster preparations should be equipping the office and staff with the resources and knowledge necessary for immediate survival. This means that evacuation routes, basic safety measures and company procedures need to be outlined explicitly and posted or distributed to all employees.

Managers should also compile a list of contact information for all staff members that is stored online and accessible in the event of a crisis. Facility managers should strongly consider installing emergency lights throughout the building. These lights need to illuminate exits and should be operational for at least 90 minutes during an emergency situation.

Facility managers are responsible for installing and maintaining smoke and fire alarms within the facility. Emergency kits should be assembled that include first aid items, emergency flashlights, chemical masks and any other essential items. Legal codes can provide a foundation for facility managers to begin creating a preparedness plan, but real-world practice runs are essential to help you identify weaknesses in your plans. 



Utilize Smartphone Apps

According to researchers, most modern-day individuals will pull out their phones when they don’t know what to do. Panic can cause people to completely forget procedures and plans even when they’ve been through practice runs. Facility managers should consider utilizing smart-phone technology to their advantage by creating an emergency app with instructions, evacuation routes and simple tips.

Apps can also be used for communication and real-time updates during crisis situations. Social media has been a major factor during recent disasters because people can communicate through their smartphones, request assistance and keep everyone updated on the situation in various locations. 



Data Protection

Although your company’s staff and property should be main priorities during disasters, it’s important for facility managers to protect company data as well. Protecting your data should involve making your physical facilities resistant to power outages, decentralizing data operations and having a solution in the event that the data center fails.

Physical preparations should include things like surge protectors and reinforced buildings. In the event that your centralized data center is inaccessible, it’s important to have a backup of important information stored online. While physical hard-drives can be damaged, data in the cloud is secure. Cloud services are a great solution that facility managers should consider. MIT experts argue that without a cloud service, “your original data could be lost forever”. 



Build a Telecommunication Strategy

Having a telecommunications strategy before an accident happens can be extremely helpful in the aftermath of a disaster because your business can continue operating remotely. Even if your office isn’t directly impacted by the natural disaster, it’s likely that some of your employees will be unable to make it to the office right away.

Throughout Hurricane Harvey, the International Facility Management Association had all of its employees work from home. Ideally, facility managers should consider how their employees could work remotely, formulate a plan and test the telecommunication strategy before it needs to be implemented. 

Strengthening your company’s emergency preparations, data protection policies, emergency apps and telecommunication strategies are all crucial in protecting your company’s employees, property and data. In the past few decades, emergency situations have been increasing.

Facility managers need to be aware of the increase in extreme weather, international terrorism and domestic violence to properly prepare for these unpredictable events. Facility managers act as coordinators during emergencies, and they are responsible for leading their team to safety. Is your business prepared to handle an extreme event?

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Outsourcing Janitorial Services

outsourced janitorial services

It’s not unusual for companies to outsource certain facility management processes like janitorial services. According to U.S. Industry Reports, the janitorial services industry “derives the majority of its revenue from the commercial market” because corporate offices and retail shops are the most frequent consumers of outsourced cleaning services.

A greater number of companies are utilizing this outsourcing tactic to save money and improve operational efficiency, while others choose not to outsource because of the loss of control and other disadvantages the solution presents. There are many options for outsourcing a portion or all of your company’s janitorial services. 

Advantages of Outsourcing

One of the key reasons facility managers decide to outsource janitorial services is because utilizing independent cleaning contractors is cost-effective. Contractors have already invested their own resources, training and tools into building a janitorial strategy, so you won’t need to take on these costs. In an extensive paper published by the ISS Group, analysts discovered one company that had saved 18.1 percent, or $5.8 million, by outsourcing tasks.

Another reason to outsource such tasks is that janitorial contractors offer specialized expertise. Outsourced janitorial services are often more efficient, and they improve on the overall quality of building maintenance. With a specialized focus on cleaning and maintenance, contractors will be stocked with high-quality cleaning supplies, experienced in janitorial work, fully-trained and prepared with the knowledge necessary to keep your facility clean.

Additionally, offloading some of the managerial duties and labor-intensive tasks to a janitorial contractor will free up your time. As a facility manager, it’s not uncommon to have a towering work load, a tight budget and several projects to oversee simultaneously. If janitorial duties are taking away valuable time and focus from other areas that need your attention, then outsourcing is a good solution.

Disadvantages of Outsourcing

Facility managers frequently mention that the biggest disadvantage of outsourcing janitorial services is the loss of managerial control. Facility managers that decide not to outsource such duties will maintain direct supervision and control over the staff, rendered services, quality of services, chemicals used and potential compliance issues. When managers choose to outsource, they willingly enter into a contractual agreement that turns over management and control to the contractor. The contractor will ultimately determine how their services are delivered and control their own personnel, equipment and quality of service.

While the contractors main goal is to make a profit by delivering the services you need, it can be frustrating to rely on an outside company to address unsatisfactory issues. This commonly noted downside of outsourcing can be negated when the contractor and facility manager establish clear expectations, goals, rules and a solid foundation of communication.

One significant issue of outsourcing is the potential to create greater inefficiencies within your business. If you lack clear communication with your independent contractor, then issues can arise such as duplicated work efforts, poor management, lost data and an overall more complicated process. Luckily, the risks of this disadvantage can be reduced by ensuring you contract a reliable and top-quality janitorial service provider. Facility managers can also reduce risk by creating contracts that clearly establish ground for termination for outsourced groups.

Outsourcing will also increase the amount of time it takes to implement policy changes that include action from your contractor. Another potential issue that arises from outsourcing is the threat to the confidentiality and security of your business. If your business manages confidential company data or proprietary knowledge, then you will need to take preventative measures to ensure your information is protected when janitorial staff are present.

Options for Outsourcing

There are many independent janitorial contractors that exclusively manage services for facilities. You can decide what level of janitorial services you want to outsource and the type of contract you want to enter. Most companies will enlist in legal counsel to ensure their contracts protect the interests of your business. Research the various types of cleaning services available in your area and devote time to finding a quality contractor. In the beginning of your relationship with your contractor, it’s necessary to build communication, utilize key performance indicators and verify the service’s efficiency.

There are many benefits and disadvantages to outsourcing janitorial services. Generally, when safety and security are top priorities, outsourcing presents too many threats to be beneficial. If cost and efficiency are your company’s main concerns, then outsourcing is the best option. Facility managers should weigh their company’s specific needs and goals to determine whether outsourcing all or a portion of your janitorial services would benefit your company.

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Fall and Winter Preparedness for Facility Managers

Facility and building managers must prepare for the winter months as the seasons change and the weather becomes increasingly colder. Failing to prepare will inevitably disrupt normal business operations and can potentially damage the company’s finances, reputation, property and employees. The most important steps managers need to take include conducting an initial risk assessment, preparing for winter maintenance, aiming for energy efficiency, protecting your data and technology and considering a telecommuting plan. 


Risk Assessment

The first step every facility manager needs to take in preparation for the winter months is to conduct an extensive risk assessment on your facility. Start this process by evaluating existing programs and processes, noting your company’s current level of preparedness and identifying any necessary improvements. The top three reasons to perform risk assessments are to assist in identifying vulnerabilities, evaluate threats and discover recommendations for improvement. 

Winter Maintenance

One of the largest concerns for businesses in the winter are icy walkways that can cause dangerous slips and falls. One common and necessary winter maintenance solution involves melting ice around outside walkways, parking lots and roadways. Rock salt is the most frequent and cost-effective type of ice melt product, but this solution can damage vegetation. Ensure your business has a plan for snow and ice removal.

Facility managers should also consider installing indoor absorbent carpeting to collect tracked-in snow. Facility managers also need to ensure the indoor cleaning team is removing any tracked-in salt and salt. Another important winter maintenance step is preparing and winterizing your pipes for potential freezes. Always perform a roof inspection to repair any trouble spots before the first snowfall, and be sure to clean out any roof drains and gutters. Interior winter maintenance may involve a heating system inspection, routine window checks and a full duct cleaning. 

Aim for Energy Efficiency

The Environmental Protection Agency notes that energy is often a commercial property’s largest operating expense. Aiming for energy efficiency is cost-effective, minimizes waste and maximizes your business’ environmental performance. Incredibly, an overlooked and seemingly trivial issue like cracks or an improperly sealed window can cost your company hundreds of dollars in the winter months. Reduce wasted energy by correcting any potential issues identified in your overall risk assessment. 

Protect Your Data and Technology

Winter storms frequently cause power outages. The most common and cost-effective solutions for facility managers to consider for power outages include surge protectors and offline back-up storage systems. Surge protectors absorb any extra electrical energy when power is restored to your building. This small step protects your electrical devices from damage and important data from being lost.

Data-focused centers may also want to consider an uninterruptible power supply unit that can prevent power loss and business disruption during the winter months. Most modern-day companies depend on the flow of information to and from various computers.

It is extremely important for facility managers to consider frequently backing up their data through an off-site cloud service. Failing to do so could result in a catastrophic loss of data or an inability to function until power is restored to incoming and outgoing servers. Cloud services allow for a speedier recovery, improved business continuity and prevents revenue loss during power outages. 


Consider a Telecommuting Plan

The winter months often bring extended periods of dangerous road conditions. If your employees frequently face severe weather conditions or dangerous roads to get to work safely, then you may want to consider implementing a telecommuting plan that allows some work to be done remotely.

The widespread availability of the internet has allowed many companies to offer telecommuting positions. Global Workplace Analytics found that over 50 percent of the United States workforce holds a position that would be at least partially compatible with telework. 

The most important steps facility and building managers need to take in preparation for the winter months include conducting an initial risk assessment, preparing for winter maintenance, aiming for energy efficiency, protecting your data and considering a telecommuting plan.

Failing to adequately prepare for the colder season can result in financial loss, property damage and even employee injury. Don’t leave your business open to these common winter disasters, and instead begin implementing a winter plan now.

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Effective Security Technology Solutions for Facility Managers

 Effective Security Technology Solutions for Facility Managers

One of the most crucial responsibilities of facility managers is to provide and maintain a safe work environment for all employees. Daniel O’Neill, the president of Applied Risk Management, emphasizes that “facility executives should seek a balance of sustainability and security from the beginning of the design process.” The most effective security technology solutions for facility managers involve the company’s building design, alarm systems, video surveillance systems, security personnel team and smart technology integration.

Building Design

The best facility managers know that a building’s design and office layout play a big role in employee productivity and satisfaction, but they may be surprised to learn that these traits are potential solutions to building security issues. The WBDG Secure/Safe Committee believes that “protective measures are generally achieved through principles of structural dynamics, nonlinear material response, and ductile detailing.” Bollards, protective glazing, setbacks and structural hardening are all measures that can be taken to improve upon a building’s structural integrity. Recent new articles around the globe indicate a rising trend of weaponizing automobiles, and a simple solution like bollards can effectively protect employees and property from any vehicle damage.

Alarm Systems

One of the most commonly sought out solutions to security issues is the installation of an access control alarm monitoring system. Ronald Ronacher, an associate principal at ARUP, agrees that alarms are “something most companies will start with because it helps address the basic security principles of deter, detect, delay and deny.” Alarm systems manage entry into entire buildings or certain rooms to ensure that only those with proper authorization can access areas. Basic alarm systems will alert individuals when unauthorized intrusions occur. Alarm systems are versatile and can be integrated with various other technologies such as video surveillance, audio control and other smart technology. IML Security, a diverse security solutions company, specializes in commercial, corporate, industrial and institutional access control systems, master key solutions and other such services.

Video Surveillance

Facility managers should take note that efficient night-time lighting and video surveillance will deter theft and reduce trespassing. In addition, video surveillance ensures OSHA compliance, reduces liability issues and monitors all incoming and outgoing visitors. Video surveillance systems are a huge deterrent, so many suggest placing some cameras within plain view. It isn’t necessary to resort to expensive systems. Current technology allows for cost-effective solutions depending on the needs of your facility. High quality images may not be necessary for all situations, and analog cameras are much less expensive alternative.

Security Personnel

Your employee’s safety is more than a legal obligation. It should be seen by facility managers as a major priority and solution. While hiring security guards is a long-term expense, it can be cost-effective for facilities at risk for criminal attackers, emergencies or handling of high-priority, expensive property. Each facility manager should create a checklist of potential risks when analyzing the benefits that security personnel could offer their company. Robert Sollars of Silvertrac explains that security officers are “the backbone of the security industry…[who] maintain control, provide customer service, and remain constantly observant.”

Smart Technology

Smart technology integrates current security technology with the Internet of Things. Devices such as key systems, video surveillance, audio recording, light switches, drones, A/C Units and much more can all be connected and compartmentalized into a single control center. Adding robots to your security team can be very beneficial. Autonomous data machines can provide benefits like constant coverage, immediate alerts, improved information sharing and much faster response times. An additional benefit to moving your company’s security needs to the cloud is that it is much more cost-effective to have wireless protocols protecting your building than physical ones like security officers, key-locks or proximity cards. This ‘new world’ of security technology provides more effective protection systems, more efficient streamlining, better information sharing and an overall easier ability to manage security issues.

The most effective security technology solutions for facility managers involve the company’s building design, alarm systems, video surveillance systems, security personnel team and smart technology integration. While most systems of the past relied on implementing physical security measures, this new internet-based smart technology is slowly creating a new security paradigm that facility managers need to stay up-to-date on. Integrating the older and newer security models can be cost-effective no matter your company’s size.

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Facility Managers and Workplace Productivity

facility Manager Workplace Productivity

The role of facility managers has undergone a shift with the rise of technological advances, artificial intelligence and data analysis programs. There has been a greater need for managers to focus on their roles as leaders and role models for their organizations by enabling a worker to become the most productive, engaged and satisfied versions of themselves. Solutions to efficiency problems can be found in such worker-oriented thought processes.

Efficient Facilities Management

Facilities Management, as defined by the British Institute of Facilities Management, describes “the processes that maintain and develop an organization’s services to support and improve the effectiveness of its primary activities.” The role of facility manager is so critical that individuals in the position are often viewed as the company’s leaders and role models. Effectively managing various employee’s morale, productivity and engagement levels is far from an exact science and requires constant vigilance, data collection, measurement, trial and error. What may work for one company’s employees could be disastrous if implemented in another.

Boosting Morale

Team morale is extremely important for a cohesive functioning unit. Psychologist Jim Harter, PhD, points out that “our careers are such a foundational part of our identities and how we think about ourselves.” Facility managers need to be aware of the significance of this. Thankfully, technological advances have allowed managers to become more creative and flexible in boosting team morale. Many companies have begun offering positions that allow individuals to work remotely from the comfort of their home part-time or full-time. Harvard Business Review explains that at-home workers are much happier, more productive and less likely to leave their position. Ctrip’s remote work opportunity study revealed that at-home advisors outperformed their peers in an office setting by almost a full workday a week and took around 13 percent more calls than their office-staff peers. Increasing the availability of such opportunities, providing extra benefits and splurging on company barbeques are all ways that managers can boost the team’s morale.

Increasing Engagement

This type of approach focuses on the connection that workers have to their employer, company and overall job. Matthew Loughran of B2C argues that disengaged workers make up around 70 percent of the entire workforce. Increasing involvement levels starts with an efficient amount of communication between workers and managers. Regular face-to-face meetings, questionnaires, suggestion boxes and recognition programs can help keep managers aware of pressing employee issues. Consistent communication will increase a person’s emotional attachment to their workplace benefiting both the worker and the company overall. Allowing workers to have flexible working schedules and greater input leads to increased individual accountability.

Employee Productivity

Facility managers play a critical role in enabling their team’s production rates. Incredibly, Johnson Controls’ research on worker output discovered that employees only spend about half of their working day focused on work, and almost half of all focused work time is unproductive. Solutions to such efficiency issues range from as simple to adjusting the room temperature to as complicated as handling conflicting personality types in workers. Cornell University studied the effects of room temperature in an office setting and found that raising the temperature five degrees resulted in 44 percent less typing errors. Noise pollution is one of the biggest poisons to a productive office and can be corrected with solutions like a new office layout or printer sound shields. Researchers have also found solutions in creating break rooms, organizing the office, decorating with plants and investing in creating a physically comfortable environment.

The importance of facilities management should not be underestimated. The profession alone represents over 5 percent of global GDP. Incompetent management will lead to lowered cost-efficiency, lowered health and safety standards, decreased lifespan of assets and overall disorganization. Efficient facility managers can provide immeasurable benefits to key areas like worker morale, engagement and production rates by identifying problems and workable solutions.

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Indoor Air Quality as it Applies to Facility Management

Indoor Air Quality

When the term ‘air quality’ is brought up, most people tend to think of pollutants in the outside air. During the hazy days of summer, when the smog is especially noticeable, our concerns about the air we breathe become forefront in our minds. As facility managers, it is important to recognize that the air inside homes, offices, and other buildings can often be more polluted than the air outside.

Indoor air pollution is one of the top 5 threats to our health. Indoor air can be up to ten times more polluted than the air we breathe outside. Senior citizens, children, and women are most at risk for developing issues from exposure to indoor air pollution.

What Causes Poor Indoor Air Quality?

Poor air quality can be caused by a number of things. Most often, mold, mildew and other biological contaminants are the culprit. These minute particles thrive in warm and damp conditions and lead to allergies, difficulty breathing, and itchy, watery eyes.

Other pollutants include cigarette or fire smoke, radon gas, and volatile organic compounds – otherwise known as VOCs. Volatile organic compounds are defined as chemicals containing carbon that can easily turn into vapor or gas. The concentration of many VOCs are significantly higher indoors than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands.

The most common form of VOCs come in man-made materials, as the gases can be released from paints and glues, which are often found in the home and in the workplace. Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in products used in office buildings. Varnishes and wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, and degreasing products. All of these products can release organic compounds while you are using them, and, to some degree, when they are stored.

Why Does Indoor Air Quality Matter?

While outdoor air quality is an issue to be extremely concerned about, indoor air quality is perhaps even more important. For most adults, the majority of our time is spent indoors, making us much more susceptible to the hidden dangers of poor indoor airborne pollutants. These potential irritants are invisible to the human eye, making them that much more difficult to detect and treat.

Breathing in harmful air can cause allergies, respiratory issues, sore throats, nausea, headaches and lethargy. On top of that, prolonged exposure to these microscopic allergens can lead to heart disease and cancer. Any pre-existing health conditions can be seriously worsened by indoor pollutants. Children, people with asthma, and the elderly may be especially sensitive to indoor pollutants. The health effects of these pollutants may appear years later, after prolonged exposure.

How Can a Facility Manager Encourage Good Air Quality?

There are a variety of ways that facility managers can encourage good air quality in their building. These simple, preventative measures include:

  • Make sure that all products and materials in the building have either a low or nonexistent VOC count. These options are available and will completely cut the risk of VOCs out of the equation.
  • If water damage ever occurs, make sure to take care of the problem immediately. If left to sit over time, mold will have the opportunity to grow – especially if in warmer areas. Mold is the most common cause of bad air quality, so taking care of these issues promptly will make keeping air quality high a lot easier.
  • When possible, use a dehumidifier (or air conditioner during summer months). Because mold thrives in damp conditions, removing excess moisture from the air will help a great deal in preventing mold from growing. An acceptable level of humidity is between thirty to fifty percent.
  • In the case of radon gas, specialized testing must be done to determine if the pollutant is present. If found, there are a variety of treatment options, including applying sealants to using passive and active ventilation in crawlspaces and other infected areas.
  • Dust is another home for pollutants to accumulate in over long periods of time. Consistent, thorough cleaning is vital to preventing various chemicals and allergens from building up.
  • Use natural air fresheners and open windows (if possible) to circulate air throughout the building. Air fresheners in all forms – spray, oil, and solid – can emit volatile organic compounds that can be toxic to a building's air quality and its inhabitants. Flowers or natural air fresheners like sliced lemons and baking soda are a good alternative to chemical-laden commercial products.

Indoor air quality is commonly overlooked. It is important for facility management to take these preventative measures and educates themselves on how to handle pollutants when they exist. By taking the necessary steps and encouraging better air quality indoors, facility managers exemplify their role as leaders and demonstrate their sincere concern for the well-being of their buildings occupants.

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Facility Managers and Their Role in an On-Site Emergency

Facilities Management Emergency Response

While many facilities managers prefer to maintain a behind-the-scenes role in the buildings they oversee, there are times when your role becomes critically important. In an emergency, FMs must take charge. You know the space better than anyone, and are able to summon resources quickly and get people where they need to go.

The best emergency response comes from thoughtful preparation. In an emergency, the facility manager defines everyone’s role so they know what to do when the moment arises. It is his or her responsibility to define mission-critical functions and assess where vulnerabilities lie. The FM coordinates all of the parts of the preparedness plan that is in place for your facility; communicating that plan to all owners, managers and occupants; and running practice scenarios to identify breakpoints in the plan. The FM takes into account new circumstances, the changing needs of building occupants, and feedback from stakeholders to tweak the plan as needed.

How Facility Managers Can Best Prepare for an Emergency

The most important key to a successfully implemented building operations plan is preparation. All emergencies, from fires to natural disasters to terrorist attacks, can cripple a facility’s operations. It is vital that your facility management staff create a thorough emergency plan.

An emergency plan should cover four key issues:

It should identify the critical building systems that must be kept functional. There are state and federal regulations and standards that address the minimum basic requirements needed for communication, emergency power, water, fire protection, fuel storage, HVAC, and lighting systems. Covered under these requirements are the safety needs of the employees, residents and visitors of the facility. Keep in mind that these requirements do not necessarily cover the services many facilities will face after an emergency has occurred.

It should include a list of everyone who occupies the building on a regular basis. Maintaining a comprehensive list of anyone and everyone you can reasonably expect will be in your facility during an emergency. Include contact information, a cell phone number and a work email, so you are able to reach them if need be. Facility managers have an obligation to ensure the safety of everyone in their facilities.

It should have a list of all equipment and other property that needs to be secured safely. Items such as computer equipment, outdoor furniture, and lawn-maintenance tools must all be properly stored in an emergency. Dedicate this responsibility to one team member to avoid confusion and a breakdown in communication which can cost precious time in an emergency situation.

It should include a checklist for every action the facilities team needs to carry out during the emergency. As noted above, it is important that every member of your team knows exactly what their duties are in a crisis. Your emergency checklist should be prominently displayed in your facility’s staff room. It is also a good idea to have a few laminated copies of your emergency plan in various central spots in your building.

Improving Your Facility’s Emergency Preparedness

The best way to prepare for an emergency situation is to perform a mock disaster run-through every quarter. This can be anything from a natural disaster such as tornadoes or earthquakes, hurricanes, to a potentially life or death situation such as a terrorist threat or a potentially violent individual in the facility. Choose a scenario and act it out, having everyone involved role-play their own part. After the mock-crisis is over, evaluate your team.

  • How calm did your team remain in the face of this crisis?
  • How well did they gather the facts? Was any relevant data missed that would have aided you in your decision-making?
  • What decisions did you make and how effective where they?
  • What was your team’s reaction time?
  • Using a scale of one to five, how well did you rank in each of the above?
  • How well did your crisis plan work? What impact did it have on employee morale and/or the public’s image of you?

These trial runs will test your team’s ability to recover from unexpected events and highlight any flaws or weaknesses in your plan. It is also important to routinely check the maintenance and functionality of your property’s safety equipment such as sprinklers and alarms, and designing workspaces so that people can freely move to get to an exit.

Create a command center. Devote a space in your facility or off-site that is crisis-ready. Equip the room with supplies such as televisions, phones and computers. This is where your crisis team will gather to discuss developments, stay informed and devise your company’s response. Be sure everyone involved is aware of this space.

It is important that facilities managers communicate to occupants well ahead of time what they need to do in the event of an emergency. Make sure this information gets disseminated to everyone. Many building occupants report that they are not aware of the location of safety equipment or procedures. They believe that their workplaces are unprepared for power outages and natural disasters and they are unsure who to report to with a safety question or concern.

IFMA-Long Island Platinum sponsor Total Fire Protection has performed fire and life safety services for numerous corporate and government clients across the United States. Their professional technicians have decades of experience keeping facilities of all types and sizes up to code and ensuring that tenants are kept safe. They pride themselves in developing lifelong relationships with their clients and partners. Total Fire Protection offers, new and existing customers, comprehensive cost-benefit analysis for their fire and life safety services. In a dire situation, Total Fire Protection will dispatch our emergency response team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Your team’s reaction in an on-site emergency can have a drastic effect on the outcome of the situation. If handled properly, the occupants and staff of your facility will emerge from the disaster unscathed and with a deepened level confidence in your management ability.

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Six Important Skills for Facility Managers

Important Skills For Facility Managers

The field of Facilities Management is one that asks a lot of those who work in it. As facility managers, you are expected to wear many hats. The responsibilities that fall on FM’s are significant, and they require a variety of skill sets. It goes without saying that a facility manager should be a skilled and experienced maintenance person, and should have a strong knowledge of industry standards for operational elements like energy efficiency, sustainability and construction. But the list of skills necessary to successfully manage a facility goes well beyond the obvious resume bullet points.

It is difficult to narrow down all of the strengths and skills that are in demand in the FM marketplace. These are six aptitudes and abilities that will empower you to be a productive facility manager.

1. Strong People Skills

First and foremost, Facilities Management is about the people you serve. Your ability to connect with, engage, and motivate those around you will greatly impact your performance as an FM. Facility managers must communicate regularly with their employees and work with others to make sure the job gets done. Managers must be able to clearly explain the task at hand to different people at all levels in an organization, from subordinates to executive leadership.

Whether it is replying to tenant complaints or managing personnel issues among maintenance staff, facility managers need to be as good with people as they are with tools. Respect is paramount in every successful working relationship. Communicating effectively with your staff means listening as much as you talk. Don’t just convey information. Make sure your meaning is understood and, in turn, make sure you understand others as well. Identify the objectives of the people you work with and make it a priority to build a professional connection that encourages each person to reach their highest potential.

2. A Capacity to Lead the Team

Facility Managers often double as Project Managers. It is commonplace for an FM to work alongside a designated PM. Whatever the task at hand may be, the buck stops with you. It is up to you to motivate your workforce, monitor performance, set goals, and measure results.  As an FM, it is your job to communicate the importance of professionalism and time management to everyone on the team. This will include directing your crew to other tasks to reduce bottlenecks or finding replacements in case of no-shows.  If your contractors aren't of the mindset that their deadlines affect the other members of the project, they need to be convinced.

3. Information Technology Know-How

FMs may not have a formal background in IT, but in today’s world, facility management is more technology-reliant than ever. The more quickly you familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of technology, the more valuable you will be in your field. Everything from time sheets to asset monitoring and facility maintenance is managed on the computer. IT plays an invaluable role in the way FMs communicate with their workforce, customers, and coworkers as well.

Your employer will look to you as the expert in facility management software. For this reason, it is imperative that you educate yourself on the latest developments to keep your facility on solid technological ground. Keep apprised of the latest trends in FM software updates and check regularly to make sure your IT platforms are situated to solve problems and eliminate waste.

4. A Go-with-the-Flow Attitude

Flexibility is an extremely valuable characteristic for FM’s. Your employees will look to you to see how you navigate difficulty situations. Are you generally easygoing, or are you naturally “on edge”? If you appear overwhelmed or stressed out, your staff will follow your lead.

The field of FM is ever-changing. Each day is different, and problems pop up without warning. Part of going with the flow means keeping cool in an emergency. Emergencies of any kind are far from uncommon when managing a facility. Whether it's responding to a burst pipe or addressing a budget that doesn't match up with expected figures, the best facility managers are the ones who are able to keep a cool head in the face of any unexpected problem and work toward a solution. If you have never faced a true emergency, you might not know how you may respond. Some people panic; others become instinctively solution-oriented and level-headed. As a general rule, it is always best to stay “cool and collected”, even the direst emergency.

5. An Eye on Sustainability

Sustainability continues to trend not only as a buzzword but also as a corporate value all around the world. That’s especially true in the facilities sector. The benefits of sustainability and green building practices in facility management are well established. Reduction in energy consumption, productivity increases, and waste reduction are just a few of the beneficial effects of sustainability. A sustainable building is a win-win for any company.

Successful and sustainable building operation and proper maintenance requires everyone on staff to take an active interest in preserving the life of the building and improving its efficiency. Your employer will count on you to keep your facility as green as can be. Make sustainability a goal and take proactive steps toward it.

6. An Aptitude for Networking

The most successful FM’s realize they can’t possibly know it all. Whether you have a deep knowledge of a particular area or a broad base of general knowledge, you must rely on experts or your professional network to quickly and easily find out about products, services, technology, techniques and tools. Networking isn’t just about socializing or trying to find the next job. It is a way for facility managers to surround themselves with resources that, at some point, will solve a problem, find resources or provide advice about an issue.

In facilities management, the physical workspace intersects with almost everything that happens inside it. FMs need the ability to network laterally across the entire organization with IT, HR, administration, and other executives. Make an effort to network with colleagues outside of company meetings. Attend trade shows and conferences. Join a professional organization. Network with suppliers and contractors. Join industry-related groups on social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Connecting with and talking to others about a problem usually leads to a better solution than solving it alone.

Facility managers oversee the numerous aspects of building management with a goal towards ensuring that all elements come together seamlessly. While the day-to-day tasks of facility managers can vary from operations and maintenance to project planning and management, the number one priority of FM’s is to make sure the facility functions effectively and efficiently. Surround yourself with trained, experienced colleagues and constantly strive to establish and maintain the highest level of customer satisfaction.

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