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Outdoor Workers and Heat Safety

Outdoor Workers and Heat Safety

As a facilities manager, you bear the all-important responsibility of keeping your staff safe in all kinds of weather. During the hottest months of summer, this burden can take on a unique challenge, however. You can ensure your workers' health by knowing what heat safety precautions to utilize during this time of the year.

Learn about the Dangers of Hot Weather

As the summer months get underway, the hot weather poses a serious hazard to people working outdoors. Statistics show that dozens of outdoor workers die each year because of heat stroke. Thousands more are sickened and hospitalized as the result of heat exhaustion.

Further, every industry can be affected by heat dangers but especially those like construction. In fact, 40 percent of outdoor workers who die from heat stroke work in this industry.

Regardless, heat stroke can affect anyone of any age even those who are young and seemingly in good physical condition. As a facilities manager, it is critical that you appreciate the dangers that come with working in hot weather. You should never assume that your employees are safe from heat stroke or heat exhaustion simply because they are healthy, young, and in good physical shape.

Plan Ahead

Once you realize the dangers of working in hot weather, you must then devise a plan ahead of time in case one of your workers does suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Your plan should include calling 911 and using cold compresses on the affected individual until help arrives. You should practice this plan often with your employees so everyone knows what to do if or when this type of emergency occurs.

Your plan should also include an element of prevention, however. You should educate your workers on how to work safely in hot weather and help them understand the symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. By educating your staff, you can prevent this type of emergency and ensure everyone's safety while the weather is hot and humid.

Offer Plenty of Water

One of the most important things you can do as a facilities manager is making available cool, fresh, and pure water to your outdoor workers. You should place the container of water in a shaded or cool location so that it stays refreshing and cold for your staff. It should also be made available at no charge to them.

Likewise, you should encourage your staff to drink at least one quart of water on an hourly basis while they are outside. This precaution will keep them hydrated and could prevent them from suffering from heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

Offer Shaded Resting Areas

You should also make sure there is at least one shaded place where your workers can go to rest while they work outdoors. Even if you have to set up a tent, you need to make sure your staff has a shaded area where they can go to cool off and recuperate from working outside in extreme heat.

You should make sure that they rest for at least five minutes on a regular basis anytime the temperature reaches higher than 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It is important that you encourage them to rest before they start to feel sick or exhausted from the heat.

Use a Heat Safety Mobile App

Finally, you can keep your workers safe by downloading and using a NIOSH or OSHA heat safety mobile app. The app is available on both Android and Apple devices. It is designed specifically for outdoor workers who are exposed to heat while on-the-job.

The app also offers live-saving information for facilities managers, supervisors, and others in charge of outdoor workers. It alerts you to the precautions you should take to make sure everyone stays safe on the job site. The app is free to download and can be a valuable resource when you want to protect your employees from the dangers of working outdoors in the heat.

Working in heat and humidity can pose a serious risk to your employees' health. It is up to you as their facilities manager to keep them safe from heat exhaustion and heat stroke. You can prevent serious illness and deaths related to working in the heat by utilizing common sense heat safety precautions.

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From Smart Buildings Come Smart Cities

The advent of smart buildings continues to transform the modern workplace. As artificial intelligence, automation, and other technological innovations take the place of old and outdated systems, facilities managers now find it simpler and more convenient to manage the buildings they are tasked with overseeing.

From the rise of smart buildings, however, comes the creation of smart cities. Smart cities show all the promise and potential of changing the manner in which people will live their everyday lives. They also could solve many of the dilemmas that arise from a booming global population.

What are Smart Cities?

The concept of smart cities comes directly from the creation and use of smart buildings today. Like a smart building, a smart building will incorporate technological inventions like automation, artificial intelligence, and other aspects of the Internet of Things. The networking of a smart city's technology will allow it to serve its residents and make everyday life within the city safer, more convenient, and more comfortable.

Specifically, a smart city will rely on this network to monitor, control, and adapt to many facets of everyday life. It will be able to predict and accommodate the weather, daylight or darkness, occupancy patterns, and more in order to make the city's environment as positive as possible for residents. This technology will make jobs like facilities management easier because it will effectively be able to control the internal temperature of buildings, adapt and control lighting within individual neighborhoods, and even collect data of buildings' occupancy rates to enhance public safety.

The Role of Smart Cities

What role will smart cities play in tomorrow's world? To start, they will address a number of global environmental concerns that are expected to arise including an aging population, the expansion of the middle class, and more people moving to urban areas throughout the world. Smart cities are being designed to be able to monitor, control, and protect precious resources like food, water, housing, transportation, and even open spaces within communities.

This monitoring and protection of resources will maintain and progressively improve the standard of living for everyone in the city. It also will effectively encourage social interactions among people, which should eliminate what is dubbed as the loneliness of convenience that is found with modern society today. Smart cities will promote the ideal use of public spaces to foster connections among residents and as a result make it a better place to live.

But how will a smart city be able to accomplish this goal? Smart city designers and planners say that it will be able to collect civic data by monitoring the human experience and applying meaning to that data. It will then use the data to determine how the environment of the city should be built or changed.

Ideally, because of the collection and application of civic data to the environment, people who live in the smart city should be able to anticipate the behavior of fellow citizens and react in an appropriate manner. As a result, planners envision smart cities having a 20 percent reduction in crime. In fact, public safety will be promoted through the use of CCTV, visitor management, and access control. These facets will add layers of protection to buildings and individual sites within the city.

Smart Cities in Development

The existence of smart cities could soon be a reality for many parts of the world. In fact, several such cities are already in the works. In Toronto, Sidewalk Labs is creating a smart neighborhood that when finished will combine smart technology and urban design. Specifically, the buildings in this neighborhood are being designed to react to the weather.

Likewise, in Belmont Arizona, Bill Gates is investing millions of dollars for the creation of autonomous vehicles. This smart city is being designed to become a sophisticated hub with public WiFi areas, drone deliveries, and demand management of resources like electricity.

Smart cities could soon change the way that people live their everyday lives. The technology expected to be available in these cities will make life safer, comfortable, and more convenient for people of all ages. They also will address and manage environmental concerns expected to come with a growing worldwide population and a limited amount of resources like food and water.

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Smart Buildings and Facility Management

The Internet of Things has transcended most boundaries in society and now makes its presence known in countless industries. Among them, architecture and building construction in particular benefit from this newest technology.

Smart buildings are becoming more commonplace around the world as facilities managers discover the many perks that come with this innovation. Discover what a smart building is and in what ways it can make your job as a building manager easier and most cost effective.

What is a Smart Building?

A smart building, also called an intelligent building, is a building that features a plethora of smart systems and automation. A smart building itself is part of the Internet of Things and in particular functions to collect and analyze data that once had to be gathered and recorded by hand.

Buildings with smart automation technology typically will feature a network of sensors attached to equipment like furnaces, ventilation systems, light fixtures, hot water heaters, and other appliances throughout the premises. The sensors collect and analyze data about the functions and performances of these fixtures automatically so the building team can focus on other tasks.

Further, the data gathered and analyzed by the sensors allow the building manager to schedule maintenance tasks based on the actual usage of the fixtures rather than time-based intervals. These devices allow building managers to know exactly where their building's assets are located so they can gather credible data and information about them and then determine what if anything needs to be done to repair or enhance their performance.

A smart building also allows the building team to be reactive in maintaining the premises rather than spending time responding to emergencies like broken appliances or faulty lighting. They no longer have to predict if or when a facilities crisis might occur. They can be alerted immediately whenever a fixture is broken and react quickly to repair it in a prompt manner. This immediate notification can result in operational cost deductions of at least two to three percent.

Controlling Internal Operations

Another perk found with operating a smart building involves being able to control its internal operations better. The devices attached to fixtures like air conditioners and furnaces alert building managers to functions like room or building temperature, vibration of equipment like HVAC systems, air flow in and out of the building, the amount of electricity being used on a daily basis, noise level, and revolutions per minute of certain types of fixtures.

In this way, the building manager can be alerted whenever any fixture with a device attached to it breaks down and stops working properly. Once notified, the facilities team can take immediate action to get it repaired or replaced as necessary.

Streamlined Facilities Management

Perhaps the biggest advantage that comes with managing a smart building involves being in charge of streamlined processes. Before this technology was invented, you may have had to manually take note of and record operations within the building. This task may have taken hours of your time and made it impossible for you to handle other important tasks on a daily basis.

With smart building technology, you no longer have to rely on manual processes but instead can rely on the sensors to automatically record the functions the equipment within the building of which in you are in charge. Any malfunctions can be reported and addressed before the building's personnel reports them to you or perhaps even notices them.

Likewise, as a facilities manager, you avoid the huge cost of having to repair and replace faulty equipment as often as before because you can be notified immediately whenever a malfunction is about to happen. This prompt alert saves you and your company money and lowers the overhead costs that otherwise could take away from your profits.

As a facilities manager, it is up to you to know if or when a fixture like an HVAC system or furnace needs to be repaired or replaced. You no longer have to rely on manual observations and recording to do your job. You can be notified immediately about impending malfunctions when you are in charge of a smart building.

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Is Switching to LED Worth It?

As a facility manager, you bear the unique task of maintaining your building's efficiency without compromising the company's cash flow. To accomplish this important obligation, you might wonder if it would be worth your while to switch from fluorescent or CFL light bulbs to LED lighting. You may be convinced by learning what advantages LED lighting can offer to your building and to you as the facility manager.

Cost Effectiveness

One of the primary benefits that comes with LED lighting is cost effectiveness. In fact, LED light bulbs are 85 percent more cost effective than CFL light bulbs.

They also burn more efficiently, lowering the cost of this type of lighting in the building and burning fewer watts per hour. In turn, you should see these savings add up relatively quickly, which may convince you that you have made a good decision in switching from CFL or fluorescent lighting to LED lights.

Easy Maintenance

Another key benefit that comes with LED lights is the ease of maintaining them. Unlike CFL or fluorescent lights, LED lights are relatively simple to change out and install.

Further, you should not have to change them out as often as CFL or fluorescent lights because LED light bulbs last for weeks longer. This fact alone makes them a wise investment if you are managing the building on a tight budget and do not have a lot of cash to spare for continuously buying and changing out light bulbs.

Improved Visual Appeal

As a facility manager, you also have the obligation of making sure the areas in the building are well-lit and visually appealing. CFL and fluorescent bulbs give out harsh glares and hot light. They may hurt the eyes of the people who come in and out of the building. Further, they may not provide the best lighting by which to read or work.

LED lights, however, are softer and more visually appealing than CFL and fluorescent bulbs. They improve the overall atmosphere in the building and provide sufficient lighting for people to read, work, and otherwise remain productive throughout the day.

When you want to provide spaces that are engaging and appealing for not only the people who work there but also the people who will visit the building each day, you may find that LED lighting is your best option. It can add to the aesthetics of the building without increasing utility costs.

Temperature Tolerance

Unlike fluorescent and CFL lights, LED light bulbs tolerate extreme temperatures without burning out or breaking. You can burn these lights in the hottest days of summer without fear of them fizzling out of cracking. They will burn efficiently without raising the costs of your summer utilities.

LED lights also burn well during the coldest days of winter and can tolerate sub-zero temperatures without freezing or burning out. Unlike CFL or fluorescent bulbs, which can malfunction during the extreme cold, LED lights continue to provide continuous and reliable lighting. This benefit can give you the peace of mind you need as a building manager during challenging weather.

Utility Rebates

As a facility manager, you also may be tasked with taking advantage of savings and rebates whenever they are made available to you. Depending on the state in which your building is located as well as its utility provider, you could be offered rebates and savings for making the switch from fluorescent or CFL lighting to LED bulbs.

The rebates would be applied to your building's utility bills or applied as discounts for utility services. You could save your company a substantial amount of money on its electricity costs.

Low Disposal Costs

Savings will also be made available to you when it comes to disposing of LED light bulbs. Unlike CFL or fluorescent bulbs, LED light bulbs are low in cost to dispose of properly. They can also be recycled and reused, which saves your company money and allows it to remain ecologically friendly to the environment.

CFL and fluorescent bulbs are costly to get rid of because many facilities charge additional hazmat fees on top of disposal costs. When you want to save on these expenses, you can switch to LED lighting.

LED bulbs have proven to be more cost effective and a smarter choice for building managers. They burn better at a lower cost. They also are recyclable and do not take as significant a toll on the environment as their CFL and fluorescent counterparts. They offer unique advantages not found with other styles of lighting today.

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Conserving Water on Your Property

Whether you want to protect the value of your property or lower your operating costs, water conservation makes sound financial sense. With rates on the rise and the risks of shortages increasing, ensuring that you use water efficiently is good for your bottom line. Installing water-smart fixtures like low-flow toilets is a fine place to start, but if you really want to make an impact, look outside. Outdoor water use can account for as much as 30 percent of your facility's water bill. The following landscaping tips can save you money and make it easier to care for your property too.

Schedule a Water Audit

When it comes to water used for landscaping, making sure that your irrigation system operates properly is priority one. Even a small problem with the pipes, fittings or controllers can impact your budget. A leak as small as 1/32 of an inch can waste more than 6,000 gallons of water every month. An irrigation professional certified in water efficiency can perform a system audit that will identify any issues with water waste. At the end of the evaluation, you'll receive a detailed report that includes improvements you can make to reduce water usage.

Maintenance Matters

Whether you hire a professional to do the job or take on the work yourself, it's important to check irrigation systems on a regular basis. Ensure that the sprinkler heads stand straight and that they aren't covered by grass or debris. Turn the system on and watch where the water flows. Make sure the water you're paying for isn't washed away on sidewalks and driveways. Sprinklers that spurt water out in a fine mist indicate that water pressure is too high. Pay special attention to pooled water and soggy soil, which can mean there's a leak in the system.

Timing Is Everything

Extensive watering costs money, and it's bad for the landscape too. Too much water results in weak growth that makes plants susceptible to insects and diseases. Set your system to water only when plants need it, and then make sure that the ground is saturated to promote strong root growth. Morning is the optimal time for watering because there is less loss through evaporation. A layer of mulch around plantings helps retain water. Watering schedules should be altered every season to account for changes in weather, plants and soil conditions.

Re-Think the Lawn

Turf not only requires more upkeep than other types of plants but more water as well. You can cut your water bills significantly by planting native plants and grasses. Once established, plants native to your area can typically survive on normal rainfall, offering opportunities to reduce your watering costs substantially. Hardscaping elements like mulch, gravel and rocks offer alternatives to lawns too. Keep turf in the areas where it has practical purposes like recreation areas and choose hardy grasses that can withstand periods of drought.

Use Smarter Technology

If your current irrigation system is hopelessly inefficient, it pays to invest in a new, modern system. From sensors that shut the system down when it rains to Wi-Fi controllers you can access on the internet, today's irrigation products can save you water, time and money. Drip irrigation systems are worth investigating too. By delivering water slowly and evenly, they eliminate water loss due to runoff and evaporation. The savings offered by these systems is substantial. Drip irrigation uses up to 50 percent less water than traditional sprinkler systems.

From grouping plants according to their watering needs to augmenting soils to better retain water, water-wise landscaping is both a science and an art. For optimal savings, many property owners and facility managers look to landscape professionals for help with water conservation. A contractor certified in water efficiency can design, install and maintain an irrigation system that will lower your water bill while adding visual appeal to your property. By demonstrating your leadership in water conservation, the results can elevate your reputation and company profile as well.

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Maintaining Strong Partnerships with Contractors

The efficient management of your facility sometimes calls for you to outsource critical tasks to third-party contractors. The connections you establish with these contractors are vital to the overall management of the building and the success of the company as a whole. You can maintain strong partnerships with contractors that you outsource to by keeping these important strategies in mind.

Define Your Objectives

Before you formally set up the partnership with the outside contractor, you should clearly define your objectives and explain the responsibilities you would like the contractor to assume on your behalf. Many contracting businesses offer an array of services. However, the one with which you partner cannot guess what kinds of services you need or what exactly you expect out of it.

You should explain in detail what you are needing and what you expect from the contractor. You should also formalize the partnership in writing so you can refer to the contract if or when needed in the future.

Be Flexible

It is also important that you be flexible about your expectations for the contractor. The responsibilities that you expect the business to take on now may change at some point in the future.

The business may also alter or eliminate some services, which means you may have to adapt the contract you have with it. Being flexible with the contractor and demonstrating a willingness to revise the contract as needed based on your needs or the business's capabilities could allow you to maintain a healthy partnership with it.

Appreciate the Importance of Commitment

When you set up a partnership with an outside contractor, you need to be ready to commit to this arrangement for as long as necessary for you to achieve your goals. Whether the partnership will last for a few months or a few years, you must commit yourself to the contract and be ready to uphold your end of the bargain.

At the same time, you have every right to expect that same level of commitment to you and your facilities management goals. You should pursue this promise of service and attention from every level of the business from which you contract from the top management to the workers who will be performing important tasks in your building.

Avoid Micromanaging

Once you gain the commitment you are seeking from the contracting company, you must then take a step back and allow the contractor to carry out the duties that you have assigned to it. You might be tempted to micromanage the projects and to give your proverbial two cents' worth of input.

However, a healthy partnership with a contractor means entrusting it to perform the responsibilities you expect from it. If you try to butt in and micromanage the undertakings, you could jeopardize the contract and find yourself without a third-party business to oversee critical tasks for you.

Communicate Clearly and Frequently

While you should not micromanage the third-party projects, you should keep the lines of communication between you and the contractor open. You need to maintain contact with the business so you can express any concerns or questions you have. You also can gain helpful insight about what the contractor is doing and the timeline for the projects that are in the works.

A healthy partnership is one that welcomes two-way communication between the facilities manager and the third-party contractor. You can get a good return on your investment in the contract and stay on top of tasks that you have entrusted to another party by showing a willingness to communicate openly and frequently with that contractor.

As a facilities manager, you may have more projects to handle than you can realistically carry out in a single day or week. Instead of hiring more employees, you could have them resolved efficiently and professionally by outsourcing them to third-party contractors. You can form important partnerships that will make managing your building easier.

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Pest Management Solutions for Facility Managers

The cleanliness and integrity of your facility depend in part on an effective pest control plan. As the facilities manager, you must ensure that pests of all kinds cannot compromise the health and safety of your building. With these pest control management strategies, you can fulfill an important facilities management duty and protect both your customers and staff from exposure to harmful pests.

Appreciate the Threat of Uncontrolled Pests

Pests do not care what kind of building they enter. If there is an entry point and plenty of warmth, shelter, and food inside, they will eagerly find a way into the building where they will reproduce at an alarming rate.

Further, muggy and warm weather that hallmarks the onset of spring and early summer create the ideal conditions in which pests of all kinds can thrive. Once the weather turns sunny and warm, you need to be on the lookout for all kinds of creatures that can get inside of your building including pests like:

  • Bees
  • Wasps
  • Ants
  • Lady bugs
  • Mosquitoes
  • Termites
  • Spiders

These creatures will eagerly take their place inside your building alongside year-round pests like mice, rats, and roaches.

Identifying an Infestation

Along with recognizing what kinds of pests can come inside of your facility, you also need to know how to spot an infestation if or when one occurs. Pests give themselves away with a host of signs that should be easy for even the untrained eye to spot. Some of the ways that you can tell you have a pest infestation include:

  • rodent droppings
  • shed skin
  • chewed up materials like paper and cardboard
  • holes in the walls, door frames, and window sills

You can also discover an infestation by actually seeing pests crawling on the floors, walls, and inside cupboards and drawers.

Proactive Pest Control Measures

As a facilities manager, you can take proactive measures to eliminate pests and prevent future infestations. First, you should take note of the landscaping outside of your building. Overhung trees and shrubs create ideal environments for pests to take refuge and use as a launching point to get inside of your building. You should trim overgrown vegetation particularly trees and shrubs that are growing close to or alongside of your facility. With this step, you eliminate the shelter that pests need to get close to and inside of your building.

Second, you should avoid over watering your landscaping. When you over water the lawn, flower beds, and trees, you create puddles that are ideal in which for pests to live and lay eggs. As they reproduce, chances are the pests will eventually find a way indoors.

Further, you should rethink where you put flowering plants in your lawn. You do not want to put flowers and flowering shrubs and trees to close to the building. Bees, wasps, and other insects that are drawn to the flowers will have an easy way to fly into the building through doors and windows.

Likewise, overusing mulch also creates a draw for pests. Pests of all kinds including rodents love the smell, warmth, and feel of mulch. While mulching your lawn helps keep it green and healthy, too much mulch can draw in pests that you may find difficult to eliminate.

Finally, you can stay on top of a pest infestation by using minimally toxic pest control products. You can use pheromones that disrupt pests' natural mating processes. Likewise, rodent traps can be effective in getting rid of mice and rats. However, if you are not up to doing your own pest control, you may want to consider hiring a professional pest control service.

These strategies help you accomplish one of the most important duties you will have as a facilities manager. Keeping pests under control and ideally eliminated protects the integrity and health of your building. It also safeguards people who work and do business inside of the building from encountering potentially dangerous pests.

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Daylight Integration Ideas for Facility Managers

The lighting in a building influences important business functions like effectiveness and productivity. As a facilities manager, you are tasked with ensuring that both of these functions meet or exceed the goals established by the company's owners. You can satisfy this duty and create an atmosphere that optimizes profitability by implementing daylighting into the building's everyday function and appearance.

What is Daylighting?

Daylighting is simply the use of natural sunlight into a building. The natural lighting in this system can be natural, direct, or diffused. When utilized correctly, daylighting can decrease the building's dependency on electricity, lower utility costs, and increase worker productivity.

Additionally, when you implement daylighting in your building management scheme, you create an atmosphere that is both visually appealing and stimulating. Before you can use daylighting in your everyday building management, however, you must learn what components make up the typical daylighting system.

Daylighting System Components

The typical daylighting system is comprised of a number of different components. You need a combination of any of the following to use daylighting effectively in your building:

      • solar shading devices like window blinds
      • optimized furniture placement, space planning, and surface finishes
      • daylighting electric lighting controls
      • daylighting redirection devices
      • passive or active skylights
      • tubular daylighting devices
      • high performance glazing for surfaces

 

Effective daylighting also calls for you to consider the wall to window ratio as well as the placement of the windows themselves in the building. Once you have this information, you can then design a daylighting scheme that will optimize the daylight available to the building on any given day.

Incorporating Natural and Simulated Daylighting

Maximizing daylight available to your building may call for you to rearrange the furniture so that natural sunlight is not blocked during the day. The idea behind daylighting is to create as much open space in a floor plan as possible so that the light from outside can reach far into the room.

As such, you might need to rearrange the furniture to prevent a desk from creating dark shadows in the center of the floor. You also might need to relocate a set of shelves that is blocking a window that faces east.

Another important aspect of furniture arrangement involves avoiding glares that could distract workers. A desk that is located too close to a window might catch the sun's glare during the brightest time of the day. The glare could make it difficult for people nearby to focus on their work tasks until the sun moves higher up in the sky. By placing furniture in a pattern that lets light extend from the windows toward the center of the room, you maximize daylighting to the advantage of your staff and the atmosphere in which they are working.

You also can install either active or passive skylights to effectively use daylighting. Passive skylights typically have clear or acrylic covers that simply let in the daylight. This type of skylight does not reflect or direct the light but merely allows it to come into the space below it.

An active skylight, however, uses a mirror system that tracks the sun as it moves overhead the building. It channels the sunlight into a skylight well, thereby increasing its performance and reducing the building's dependence on electricity throughout the day.

Finally, you may consider using tubular devices, which have highly reflective film inside of them. They work by channeling light that is directed onto a lens on top of the building's rooftop. They direct that light to another lens located on the ceiling plane. While smaller than a skylight, a tubular device is still powerful enough to reduce a building's electricity dependency by as much as 30 percent. They also help you effectively use daylighting to the advantage of your building and its occupants.

The proper use of daylighting can create an environment that is more conducive to productivity and energy savings. As the facilities manager, you could enhance both by using a daylighting system that adds variations of lighting and temperature throughout the day. You also could maximize the profits that the company makes after you implement the daylighting system.

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To What Extent Does Commuting Affect Employee Motivation?

For many people across the country, commuting to and from work is part of their daily routines. They get up each morning knowing that they face a hectic drive or ride to work that day and an equally stressful commute at home that night. They often feel trapped in a cycle of commuting that they cannot escape.

When you want to boost both morale and productivity in the workplace, it could pay you to consider how the daily commute affects your employees. You may also enhance your own facility management program by offering innovative solutions to ease their stress and frustration that come with commuting to work each day.

The Impact of Long Commutes on Employees and Facilities Management

The commutes that your employees undertake to and from work each day have a direct impact on your building management and productivity. Studies have shown that a one-way commute that lasts longer than 30 minutes can have as much as if not more of a negative toll on an employee as a 19 percent cut in that person's paycheck.

The same studies pinpointed the precise effect that a long commute has on a person's body and mind. The statistics reveal that 33 percent of commuters suffer from depression while 37 percent experience financial difficulties that are directly related to their travels to and from their jobs. Forty six percent of commuters that travel one way longer than 30 minutes are obese and 12 percent report experiencing work-related stress each day.

Alternatively, the studies show that people who walk or bike to work each day experience better mental and physical health than people who drive or take the train or bus. These people report being more satisfied with their jobs and are believed to positively impact the FM of their employers.

What may be more surprising to managers of facilities of all sizes is that the length of the commute itself may not account directly for the job satisfaction and performance of an employee. While the studies do show that commutes over a half hour one way bring about more stress factors in workers, they do not suggest that frustration and a lack of productivity are heightened for each minute that the commute goes longer than this time limit.

A recent study followed 2700 workers in some of the country's largest metropolitan areas. The commute times for all of these cities averaged between 40 to 60 minutes. Interestingly, employees in Los Angeles, a city where the commute time averages 53 minutes per worker, reported being more frustrated and stressed out than workers in Washington D.C. where the average commute time exceeds an hour.

Regardless of the level of frustration and stress your commuting employees experience each day, it is important as the building management leader to think about ways you can lighten their burden if possible. By implementing innovative ways to erase some of the physical and emotional toll that comes with commuting to work, you could increase your company's productivity and improve the facility management strategies already in place.

Easing the Burden of Commuting

You probably have no say in whether or not the company's actual physical location can be moved to shorten commute times. Even so, you could implement strategies to make coming to and from work each day easier for your employees.

For instance, you could make available staggering work schedules for workers whose commutes are longer than 30 minutes one way. By allowing them to come in and leave later during times when traffic is not as heavy, you could ease their stress about having to drive on busy roadways or catch rides in buses and trains that are always packed full of people.

If possible, you could allow some of the commuting employees to work from home. Studies have shown that employees who telecommute are as if not more productive than their brick and mortar peers. You may see greater results with work projects and meet deadlines earlier than ever for your clients.

If staggering schedules and telecommuting are not possible, you may be able at least to offer employee shuttles or set up shared rides among workers. These programs could be more popular if they come with commuter benefits like reimbursement for tolls or gas mileage.

Commuting to and from work can take a negative toll on the productivity, morale, and health of your employees. You can improve your own FM strategies and increase productivity by adopting helpful practices to ease the commuting burden.

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The Importance of Workplace Wellness

Poor diet and a lack of exercise have contributed to a rise in diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure in this country. More adults now suffer from illnesses that may otherwise have been prevented had they only worked out more and took care of what they ate.

Employers today are absorbing much of the cost associated with this health-related epidemic. Companies continue to suffer lost revenue and profits because their employees cannot physically handle the challenges of staying on the job. However, company leaders may curb their losses by placing more importance on workplace wellness.

Why Focus on Workplace Wellness?

What is so important about workplace wellness in the first place? To start, a company that fosters an atmosphere of fitness and wellness stands a greater chance of reducing workplace losses due to call-ins and absenteeism.

When a company's employees are too sick to show up to work, they cost their employers money in part because they are not there to generate revenue on behalf of the company. They also cost the business money with health insurance claims to cover the costs associated with treating Type II diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses that can be prevented with improved diet and exercise.

Healthy workers are more productive workers, which is why more companies today are focusing on improving wellness in the workplace. They find that their employees are more readily engaged with the tasks at hand each day. They also call in fewer times throughout the year and are more productive during the business day.

Tips to Improve Workplace Wellness

Once employers appreciate the benefits that come with improved workplace wellness, they may then wonder how they can implement such a plan into their own businesses. They can begin by asking their employees what they want or need to stay healthier and more fit.

This information can be gathered either by survey or simply by asking everyone in a meeting what kind of wellness measures they would like implemented into the workplace. Common suggestions could include:

  • free flu vaccinations for all employees
  • short morning breaks to walk around the block
  • healthier food choices in the break room
  • company-hosted wellness nights after work for employees and family members


Another way to improve wellness in the workplace is by communicating openly with employees using tools that already in use in the office. Many companies use programs like Stack or Nearpod to send and receive information. These methods can be used as well for wellness purposes. Company leaders can share playlists, for example, with workers to motivate them to work out or encourage employees to share their own workout playlists with others in the business.

Another simple way to get people to work out either on breaks or before or after work is to pass out fitness trackers like FitBit watches or pedometers. Employees can keep track of their own progress or even establish friendly wagers with coworkers about who will walk or jog the most on any given day.

Finally, to encourage everyone to take part in workplace wellness programs, company executives should also pay attention to employees' mental and emotional health. Some people may find it embarrassing to talk about losing weight or working out.

They may be depressed or anxious about the new program. Companies can make available mental health services either at work or by referral to facilities in the community. They should also encourage an open and friendly atmosphere among coworkers so that everyone can feel at ease at getting in shape and eating better at work together.

The importance of workplace wellness cannot be understated in the role it plays in productivity and profitability. When workers look and feel better, they are often more ready to give their all to the tasks at hand. Company owners, managers, and other leaders can reduce company expenses and improve revenue by implementing practices that will foster an atmosphere of better workplace wellness in their own businesses.

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