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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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Are Cool Pavements Worth the Investment?

Are Cool Pavements Worth the Investment?

The increasing threat of global warming has pushed both the government sector and private industry into a hunt for smarter, alternative ways of living. One such technology, “cool” or smart pavement, hopes to reduce the concrete jungle effect of big cities by replacing traditional asphalt with reflective material. The upcoming tech has successfully passed initial tests and will be implemented on a larger scale in Los Angeles.

What is Smart Pavement?

Traditional black asphalt absorbs anywhere from 80 to 95 percent of sunlight. In contrast, cooler alternatives are a range of upcoming technologies that seek to reduce the heat entrapment common with public roads. Many contain a GuardTop sealcoating that reflects the heat, enhances water evaporation and remains cooler. The cooler alternative has been successfully tested in select parking lots in Los Angles, and the city hopes to begin testing on public roads. Officials plan to study the public’s reaction, the longevity of the GuardTop coating and the overall effects of the lowered air temperature.

Environmental Benefits

The most beneficial aspects of the cooler alternative to black asphalt are the overall lowered temperature and reduced reliance on A/C units. The impact on the environment of cooling the air temperature down is more relevant than ever as the globe faces unprecedented heating in the modern era. California has allocated $150,000 to a cooler roads project that aims to reduce temperatures by up to fifteen degrees. Alan Barreca, an environmental science professor at the University of California, believes that the temperature difference will be so apparent that it will significantly reduce the use of air conditioning. If his predictions are accurate, then greenhouse gases could be drastically reduced in areas with heavy traffic.

Global warming advocates are in agreement with the scientific community about the dire consequences to both the environment and humanity of not reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. They argue that failing to do so will lead to extreme climate change including rising temperatures around the globe. Greenhouse gases are not the only way that traditional black asphalt contributes to rising temperatures. The dark black asphalt absorbs massive amounts of solar energy and later radiates it back into the atmosphere. The current goal is to target areas that suffer from extreme heat that would benefit most from such solutions and gauge the impact of such projects.

Drawbacks

The Department of Energy’s Berkeley Lab extensively studied the entire life cycle of various street materials including conventional asphalt, concrete and reflective coatings. They found that the energy and emissions used in creating alternatives often outweighed the expected benefits. Partnering with UC Pavement Research Center, thinkstep Inc. and the University of Southern California, Berkeley looked at the different methods over a span of 50 years. The groups looked at the entire life cycle of materials including the manufacturing, installation, usage and disposal. They found that producing and maintaining reflective coating requires more than six times the energy needed for traditional rock and asphalt coating. Another study, conducted by Melvin Pomerantz in Berkeley, found that California’s cities could save 60 cents a year at most and avoid only about one cent per year of carbon dioxide emissions.

Facility Management

There are several benefits that cooler alternatives can offer for facility management. The EPA argues that such technologies reduce storm water runoff, lower tire noise, enhance safety, improve local comfort and increase nighttime visibility. As managers, these considerations are important for the overall productivity of your team. Noise pollution is one of the biggest problems in most offices. Permeable alternative roads, according to the EPA, can reduce tire noise by two to eight decibels. Additionally, the overall lowered air temperature around your office can make your staff more comfortable while simultaneously saving money on running the office A/C unit.

The implementation of such cooler roads in Los Angles will further reveal if such alternatives are worth the investment. While recent research suggests that the environmental harm may outweigh the benefits, the technology is proven to significantly decrease the overall air temperature in cities. This increasingly important aspect may make the technology more adoptable as global temperatures continue rising to extreme levels. If something isn’t done to reduce the concrete jungle effect, then big cities will likely be avoided as the heat becomes intolerable in the coming years. Researchers, scientists and politicians continue working together to come up with innovate and alternative solutions to the climate crisis.

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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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OSHA Announces Delay of Electronic Filing Deadline

Long Island Workplace Safety

Obama-era safety regulations, like OSHA’s “Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses”, have been coming under strict scrutiny in the new Trump administration. The final rule’s electronic filing components, which went into effect at the beginning of this year, have been highly criticized, challenged in court and now delayed. Under such conditions, facility managers are questioning the best course of action in pursuing compliance.

Filing Date Extended

In May of 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a new rule labeled “Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses”. The new regulations require employers with 250 or more employees to electronically file all recordable injury and illness information. The rules took effect in January 2017 and mandated that establishments file their submissions for 2016 by July 1, 2017. Additionally, employers with 20-249 employees that are considered “high hazard industries” by OSHA are required to file. The purpose of such electronic filing is to create a publicly available database that discloses each employer’s compliance with safety rules.

The Controversy

Recently, OSHA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and suggested extending the deadline for electronic reporting by five months. This would push the deadline until December 1st. The statement provided the reasoning for the extension would be to “allow affected entities sufficient time to familiarize themselves with the electronic reporting system which will not be available until August 1.” OSHA’s statement, along with pressure from the National Federation of Independent Business, suggests that the group intends to rework certain aspects of the rule. The National Federation of Independent Business has strongly urged OSHA to push the compliance date into mid-2018. The postponement would give OSHA time to reconsider and revise the final rule.

This all comes following a lawsuit that was filed against OSHA’s rule by the National Association of Manufacturers and other businesses. The lawsuit alleges that OSHA lacks the statutory authority to enforce the rule and that the real-world impacts and costs are too high to implement. Most importantly, the agency runs the risk of sacrificing employee and employer privacy. Linda Kelly, the National Association of Manufacturers Senior Vice President, explains “manufacturers take pride in creating safe workplaces and are supportive of regulations that increase transparency, but this regulation does neither, and we look forward to fighting this in the courts.”

Their requests for a preliminary injunction were denied by the courts, but the issues brought up by the plaintiffs can still be brought back to court. A similar lawsuit against the new regulations has been brought to the Oklahoma federal court arguing that they would violate employer’s First and Fifth Amendment rights.

OSHA’s new regulations are being heavily criticized by a large portion of the business community. Additionally, OSHA has failed to develop and launch a platform or website designed for uploading reports. The postponement of the filing date coupled with the fact that OSHA is not yet accepting any electronic submissions points to a possible revocation or major reconsideration of the rule itself.

What Facility Managers Can Expect

Around 466,000 employers will be affected by the electronic filing requirement under OSHA’s new rule, but facility managers remain unsure how to proceed with the swirling controversy. Union groups and workers safety organizations worry that the pending lawsuits combined with the unpredictable Trump administration may not adequately defend the rule. Attorney Joseph P. Paranac, Jr. explains “while some advocates may be worried about the grant program, it’s too early to mourn the initiative’s demise…companies should refrain from overreacting to reports…Instead, organizations may wish to continue to keep track of developments and consult with the legal or other advisors before committing financial or other resources to a course of action.”

It is too early to speculate about the future of the final rule, and the courts have also conceded that the complaints against the initiative may be changed with OSHA’s reworking of the final rules. For these reasons, the best course of action for facility managers is to consult with advisors and identify the steps and costs required to comply with the current rules. It is best to hold off on immediate implementation.

Edwin G. Foulke Jr., former head of OSHA, strongly believes Trump’s administration will re-examine the final rule. His feelings are validated by many in the business community, while others think it’s too soon to disregard the now in-place regulations. With such confusion, most experts agree that the best course of action for facility managers is to plan for the costs and developments of compliance but hold off on immediately implementing them until further details emerge.

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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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Women as Leaders in Facility Management

Women in Facilities Management

Women are leading the way in facilities management

There has been a sharp uptick in the number of women taking on leadership roles in the field of facility management over the past decade.

According to a study by the Commercial Real Estate Women Network, the number of women in leadership roles in the building management industry has grown from 32 to more than 36 percent since 2005, and that number is expected to increase as many facilities professionals reach retirement age.

The field is also attracting more women who are leveraging their experience in commercial real estate and making the career switch to what had previously been a male-dominated industry.

This growing diversity is especially important in the field, which has at its core is about people and helping them to thrive. Facility managers exert a lot of power and control over the physical environment that people work in each day, and that environment directly impacts worker productivity, health and well-being, according to experts. In addition, bringing people from diverse backgrounds into the field means more ideas along with an increased chance for selecting the right one.

Why women are successful in facility management

There are numerous reasons why women are successful in the field of building management. They leverage their emotional intuition, intelligence and self-awareness of how their actions impact those around them to solve problems and diffuse crises that occur in the work place.

Women are self-managers with strong time management skills who usually have a daily "to do" list and work to ensure those items are checked off. That is especially important in facility management, where the daily list of "to dos" is virtually never ending.

Women also bring strong social and listening skills as well as empathy to the workplace, allowing them to guide their staffs while increasing productivity.

How to be a successful female facilities manager

Just like their male colleagues, female building managers can take proactive steps to keep their careers on track. among the things you can do are:

  • Do not neglect your education, whether you gain it through experience, attending continuing education classes and seminars or by reading trade journals for 20 minutes each day. The more you know, the better prepared you will be to tackle problems as they arise.
  • Network with other facilities managers, both male and female, so you can keep up to date on the latest trends in the field.
  • Do not be afraid to do anything that you ask your staff to do. Learn about plumbing, electrical systems and heating and ventilation. Put your knowledge to the work by pitching in alongside your staff. And, ask questions if you do not know something. most contractors are happy to share what they know.
  • Remember that the field of building management is a twenty-four hour a day, seven day a week job that you can never walk away from. Be reachable to your staff through phone calls and texts, especially when you are away from the office.

Problems women face in the field

The demands of being accessible all day, every day make many female facilities manager feel the pressure of balancing work with home life. Pursuing this career is a way of life that many embrace or do not. Be sure to train your staff and hire the additional help you need when necessary to maintain work/life balance.

Getting contractors and vendors to accept a woman as boss in a male dominated field also has some challenges. Cultivate good working relationships with them in order to build mutually respectful and serious professional relationships.

As more women than ever before enter the field, they are changing the face of the face of the facilities industry. Coming from diverse backgrounds, educational levels and skill sets, women are establishing themselves as leaders in what had been a male dominated industry by using their problem solving and communication skills to leverage their career path and open doors for those who will follow in their path.

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Fiscally Responsible Ways for Facility Managers to Implement Environmentally-Friendly Practices

Long Island Green Facilities Management

When green initiatives are put in place, everyone from building owners to building occupants benefit.  Energy-efficient buildings cost less to operate, are healthier for their occupants and better for the planet.

There are many ways to achieve the goal of ‘going green’ with your own building. These suggestions offer ways for facility managers to save money and help protect the environment at the same time.

POWER THE BUILDING WITH RENEWABLE ENERGY

Buildings account for about one-third of the energy consumed in the United States. Heating and cooling systems use 60 percent of this energy, while lights and appliances use another 40 percent. Fossil fuels are finite, and there is growing concern about running out of these as the years go on. Many FM’s are exploring hydroelectric, solar and wind energy as viable alternatives to traditional energy sources.  These clean energy options capture natural breezes and the sun's energy and light, and use solar water heating systems, dramatically reducing a building’s energy consumption. Renewable energy practices save money, result in more attractive buildings, improve the environment and strengthen the economy by reducing the need for fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

INVEST IN DUAL LIGHT CONTROLS

With sizeable buildings, lighting is a major expense and source of energy consumption. Installing dual light controls allow occupants to turn half the lights off whenever full lighting is not needed.

UPGRADE YOUR PLUMBING SYSTEM

Updating your piping system is a pricey operation. However, delaying an upgrade can cost you even more over time in higher utility bills. Replacing the plumbing fixtures themselves can make a significant difference to water usage.  Reports have shown that the most substantial water waste is found in older buildings with aging fixtures. Upgrading to an EPA-approved model can save dollars and gallons.

USE PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTATS TO CONTROL HEAT AND AC

Set points for your temperature control systems allow the facility manager to choose a desired temperature range, say between 63 and 66 degrees Fahrenheit in the fall. For each degree you lower your thermostat (for heat), you will lower your utility bill by an average of one percent.

RELY ON PROFESSIONALS FOR ROUTINE MAINTENANCE

While you may think dusting off your HVAC system is enough to keep it running smoothly, it doesn’t actually work. Only professionals are trained to disassemble these machines for in-depth cleaning and regular maintenance. Implementing a preventive maintenance practice will improve the efficiency of your plant and machinery, and will ensure that your system gets its necessary routine tune-ups.

HARVEST RAINWATER

Whether with a rainwater management system or a similar system, water can be repurposed nearly endlessly. Harvesting rain is a practice that has been around for centuries. Rainwater harvesting systems provide distributed storm water runoff containment while simultaneously storing water which can be used for irrigation, flushing toilets, washing clothes, washing cars, pressure washing, or it can be purified for use as everyday drinking water.

INVEST IN ENERGY MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE

If you do not yet have energy management software in place at your building, you could be missing out on key metrics that could inform you where you can conserve even more. EMS collects interval data, varying from quarterly billing statements to minute-by-minute smart meter readings. Electricity and natural gas are the most common utilities measured, though systems may monitor steam, petroleum or other energy uses, water use, and even locally generated energy. A professionally-installed energy management system will give you all the information you could possibly need in regards to your impact on the power grid.

UPGRADE TO LEDS

Incandescent light bulbs have been the standard for decades, and they have been improved in the last decade, using up to 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescents. However, in recent years, more and more consumers have chosen LED lights both for home and workplace use. LED lights are naturally brighter, and much better for the environment, as they have a longer lifespan and use less energy than incandescent bulbs.

STORE FILES DIGITALLY

It goes without saying that customer records, repair data and other important information should be stored on a computer. Digitally storing documents allows an immediate reduction on paper and ink expenses, and saves man-hours in terms of filing and retrieval. The practice is good for the Earth too. The mass reduction of paper use can have a profound effect on the environment.  The United States pulp and paper industry is the 2nd largest consumer of our country’s energy. A paperless solution will serve to reduce costs, cut down on clutter, and take less of a toll on the environment.

INVEST IN PLANTS THAT REQUIRE LESS WATER

The landscaping around your building requires regular watering. This can lead to a tremendous waste of resources. All plants need water to survive. However, like plants that require more water, there are plants that grow in a lack of water. They are the best drought tolerant plants and can live without water for a long time. Plants are typically separated into three water categories: very low, low and medium. Speak to your landscaper to determine if there are low water plants that can be planted on your property to help reduce the amount of water used and wasted at your facility.

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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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