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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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Spring Maintenance Tips for Facility Managers

Spring Maintenance Tips For Facility Managers

It’s hard to believe it, but spring has finally arrived. The recent snowstorms have kept much of the Northeast stuck in the doldrums of winter. Despite the lingering snow on the ground, it is time to think about the upcoming warmer weather and the spring cleaning that comes with it. What can facility managers and building owners do to prepare their property and grounds for the new season?

It is a very smart idea to be proactive and begin thinking about sprucing up your facility. A well-cared-for building is the best way to promote your property. It also ensures your tenants safety. Here are some tips to help you review your maintenance program for the coming year.

1) Make the Best First Impression

When people arrive at your building, the first thing they notice are the grounds. It is a no-brainer to do all you can to give a good first impression before they even walk in the door. Whether you have a contract with a formal landscaper or you handle your buildings lawn and flower maintenance yourself, now is the time to plant seasonal flowers. Flowers will make the right impression. Greenery inside your building will also create a welcoming environment. Ask your facility services provider about grounds beautification, maintenance, and potted plant care. 

2) Spring Walkthrough

This is the time to search your property for any issues. Catching small problems now before they become big ones is an important role of a facility manager. Addressing small details can go a long way towards improving the aesthetics and functionality of your space. Ask your janitorial company and/or handyman to complete the walk through with you, focusing on details you might normally overlook. Some things to inspect for repair/replacement are: doors (door sweeps, door stops, sticking locks, etc.), corner guards, tile and grout, light switches and face plates, ceiling tiles, countertops and shelving, cabinets and hinges, and fire extinguishers. Additionally, a fresh coat of paint and new caulking will make your entire space look fresh and clean.

3) Refresh the Restrooms

Daily cleaning is a necessity for public restrooms. However, periodic deep cleaning is essential for keeping your toilets, sinks, floors and bathroom stalls looking clean and functioning optimally. Dirt and germs inevitably build-up over time, and must be attacked by sanitizing all restroom surfaces, fixtures, and floors. Do mirrors need to be replaced, sinks re-caulked? Are repairs/replacements necessary for toilet paper and hand towel dispensers or baby changing stations? Pay attention to the comments made by occupants about restrooms and perform your own walk-through’s periodically to ensure nothing has been overlooked.

4) Service Air Conditioning Units

Set up a maintenance appointment with your HVAC service provider to give A/C units a thorough spring check-up so they will cool efficiently when the hot weather comes. Coil cleaning can not only boost operating efficiency but can also improve indoor air quality, which keeps everyone healthier. The air conditioning unit has been sitting unused all winter, causing dirt and sludge build-up — which, in turn, means odors, allergens, increased operating costs, and even degradation or possible failure of the unit. Preventive maintenance this spring will keep everyone happy this summer.

5) Tend to Floors and Carpets

Winter is harsh on flooring. Spring is the time to deep clean all carpets, tile and wood floors in your building. Call in a commercial carpet cleaning company to shampoo your carpets. This will refresh them and reduce any allergens. Wait until the worst of the spring pollen is gone, and then have your carpets cleaned according to Carpet and Rug Institute guidelines. Stripping and waxing will extend the life of your hard surfaces. Schools should also schedule the annual maintenance of their gym floors for the summer break. Wood floors usually require light grit screening followed by cleaning and application of a solvent-based gym finish to protect the floor and keep it shining.

The warmer weather can make spring the perfect time to give new aesthetic life to your facility. If you haven’t yet incorporated sustainable products into your facility, talk to an expert who can help you begin with simple changes that will make big differences. At a minimum, your cleaning program should use Green Seal certified chemicals and/or bio-based cleaning alternatives. To further enhance your results, you can incorporate supplies and equipment, such as recycled paper towels, microfiber cloths and mops, Carpet & Rug Institute-certified vacuums, touchless soap and towel dispensers, and automatically flushing toilets. Sustainability programs can be cost neutral when considering all of the proven economic and health benefits they provide.

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Fighting Germs in Your Facility

Fighting Germs in Your Facility

Each year, somewhere between 5% and 20% of the population will come down with the flu, and around 200,000 people will be hospitalized because of the virus. Health epidemics such as these cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars per year. 

Fighting infection is crucial to maintaining workers’ personal health, as well as the company’s financial health. Illnesses occur year-round, but certain illness-causing germs, like the common cold and influenza, peak during the winter months when we spend more time indoors in close quarters. In the United States, flu season typically stretches from November to April, peaking in January or February.

The CDC reports that 80% of illness-causing germs are spread through touch, which makes cleaning and disinfecting a critical part of preventing illness and outbreaks. Here are some ways that your staff can keep germs at bay.

Thoroughly Clean Public Areas

Frequently touched surfaces like handrails, doorknobs, and keypads are the most common ways to spread germs. Stair railways, faucets, phones, and elevator buttons should also be disinfected. Conference tables should be wiped down before each meeting. Tables and chairs will also need to be cleaned on a regular basis. These public spaces are easily overlooked, but they can be an easy way for viruses and germs to spread through a facility. Wipe out potential virus hangouts by wiping them down with alcohol-based cleaners and disinfectants often. Cutting corners when cleaning gives germs free reign to continue to grow.

There are sneaky ways that the flu virus can spread around your building. It is imperative that building managers and staff frequently check ventilation and HVAC systems to make sure they are clean and free of debris. It is also highly recommended that your cleaning crews vacuum with HEPA filters to help keep air clean.

Remind staff to check the outside areas around cooling towers and drains and on the roof for pools of water, which can collect pathogens that then travel into your building through ventilation systems. Another hidden area that it is important to clean regularly is bathroom exhaust fans. Make sure that the fans are working correctly and are pushing containments and polluted air out, and not sending them further into the restroom.

Choose the Right Disinfectant

Not all disinfectants and antibacterial sprays have the same effect and work across the board. Did you know that there is a difference between cleaning and disinfecting? Cleaners physically remove germs with soap and water or detergent, but don't necessarily kill germs. Disinfectants kill top-layer germs, but don't necessarily clean the area. A combination of both - clean first then disinfect - is the best method for reducing the risk of the infection spreading.

 Select products with labels that claim to kill bacteria and viruses like influenza and rhinovirus - the leading cause of the common cold. Always refer to the product label and follow the manufacturer's instructions for use and contact time, or the length of time the disinfectant needs to remain wet on the surface to properly kill germs. It is vital that regular cleaning and disinfecting takes place for the most effective protection from the flu. Luckily, the flu virus is not very hardy. The CDC reports that the virus can only live and remain infectious for 2 to 8 hours. Regular cleaning and disinfecting will help keep the flu at bay.

Promote Hand Washing & Provide Hand Sanitizer

Office common areas, such as break rooms and conference rooms, are at increased risk for harboring cold and flu causing germs because they are high access areas where employees come together and likely share and spread germs. Cleaning surfaces, such as countertops and tabletops, and break room appliances, such as microwaves and refrigerator handles, with sanitizing wipes drastically reduces potentially harmful germs and bacteria count. Reducing germs is a group effort, so make it as easy as possible for building occupants to keep facilities clean.

Install hands-free antibacterial hand gel dispensers throughout the facility. Post signs that remind patrons to regularly wash hands. The CDC calls clean hands the most important factor in preventing the spread of germs. Educate all employees on the importance of proper hand washing. Post reminders in restrooms for employees and visitors alike. Make sure that hand soap and paper towels are readily available in every public and employee restroom. It is a good idea to post additional signs by pools, hot tubs and saunas that discourage users from jumping in if they have open scrapes or cuts.

These easy tips make a big difference in fighting germs and staying healthy. Step your germ-fighting game up a notch by establishing a comprehensive cleaning plan, choosing the right cleaning product for your facility and involving everyone in germ prevention.

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Smart Sensors Will Bring Facilities Management Into a New Era

Long Island Smart Buildings

New technologies mean that complete building automation is coming sooner than most think. These innovative developments will usher in a new era for facility management, allowing large scale networking and digitization to manage commercial buildings.

The impact that the Internet of Things on the facility managment industry is wide sweeping. It will allow the delivery of a whole new range of solutions and services to facility managers that are revolutionary in their application.

A recent article from Facility Executive explains that "smart sensors" installed throughout modern buildings will aggregate data that will help FMs manage their spaces with mush greater efficeincy.

"The digital transformation in commercial buildings has already started and is gaining momentum. Facility managers will be among the first to benefit from the IoT revolution in driving down operating costs while improving safety and security. As smart sensors are key enablers for building intelligence, the process of identifying and selecting the proper sensors is critical. New types of smart sensors, with compelling advantages, are emerging and deserve special attention."

To read more on the subject, head over to Facility Executive's website to read the complete article.

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Pest Control Tips For Your Long Island Property

Pest Control Long Island

It’s critical to take control of potential pest issues on your property proactively and to eliminate unwanted rodents and insects before the problem becomes serious.

The first step in limiting the pests that can annoy your tenants is to stay up to date on the pest issues that are common on Long Island. Talk to your fellow facility and property managers to discuss what’s been “bugging” them since all pest problems are regional in nature. Its very common for a property to get hit by the same infestation as neighboring building.

A recent article from the facilitiesnet website explains:

"Once you have an idea of the season’s big pest, do some basic research on “how to get rid of Pest X.” This simple effort can help you prepare for these pests before they damage your property or annoy your tenants. If you’re not entirely sure of the pest you’re seeing, visual guides are available on many insects and rodents, allowing you to ID the pest on your own"

For more insight on how to keep mice, ants and other pests away from your properties, read the full article on the facilitiesnet website.

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HVAC System Fires On The Rise: What You Need To Know

HVAC Maintenance Long Island

The primary job of all facility, property, and energy managers is to keep their buildings' occupants safe. In January 2017 there have been no less than six reports of fires related to faulty HVAC systems. The silver lining to these bad reports is that none of these incidents led to any serious injury or death.

However, these fires have raised the question of what facility professionals can do to ensure their properties' HVAC systems are safe and operating properly. If your maintenace is overdue, this post is a reminder to have your system inspected to make sure its is not only running efficiently, but also safely.

For specifics on these recently reported HVAC files, read the complete article on the Energy Manager Today website.

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