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Blog

Restroom Maintenance Technology

Restrooms are a bit of a necessary evil. Virtually no one enjoys using a public restroom, and no one enjoys having to keep them maintained. It's a dirty, expensive, often inefficient job, but someone has to do it. Poorly-maintained restrooms have a negative impact on employee presenteeism, workplace hygiene, and customer satisfaction. Fortunately, new advances in restroom maintenance technology are helping to make an unpleasant job far more streamlined and efficient.

Taking the Guesswork Out of Maintenance

Technology hasn't advanced to the point where fully automated restroom maintenance is a feasible option for facility managers -- maintenance staff are an invaluable part of keeping restrooms hygienic, working, and well-stocked. Unfortunately, these staff members are often overworked and under-informed, forced to rely on manual checks to tell them when something needs to be cleaned, refilled, or repaired. The average maintenance worker also can't readily supply information on things like traffic patterns, and ordering cleaning supplies can be a matter of guesswork for the purchasing department. Utilizing facility management software and sensors is an easy way to simplify restroom maintenance by providing information that unconnected restrooms can't.

Monitoring Hygiene Compliance

Only about two thirds of Americans regularly wash their hands, and roughly 70% admit to not using soap when they do. Even if you aren't managing a hospital, this is a pretty disturbing statistic. Food service facilities and even office buildings all require a hygienic environment in order to operate effectively. Doorknobs, keyboards, and telephones are all breeding grounds for pathogens from contact with unwashed hands, and frequently vectors for illness. Monitoring hygiene compliance can help facility managers ensure that employees are following the proper hand washing protocol, reducing the spread of bacteria and viruses and, in turn, reducing lost productivity due to absenteeism.

Analyzing Traffic Flow

Some restrooms just see more use than others. This can be due to a lot of factors, including scheduling, location, and even general atmosphere. The trouble is, the places that see the most use aren't necessarily the ones that receive the most attention. Few things will turn people away faster than a grimy, smelly restroom. This can negatively impact employee productivity as they seek out a cleaner one, and create a poor impression of the company for customers and visitors. Knowing which restrooms see the most use makes it much easier for facility managers to prioritize maintenance tasks, ensuring that the busiest places are cleaned and restocked as often as they require. It's also helpful as part of an analysis of a facility's overall traffic, which can help guide other maintenance decisions.

Saving Time and Money

Checking soap and toilet tissue dispensers manually is a tedious process that's often easy for a rushed maintenance worker to overlook. Unfortunately, empty dispensers have a negative impact on employee hygiene, restroom use, and the overall impression of a facility. Monitoring technology allows maintenance workers to skip manual dispenser checks entirely -- automated sensors can tell them exactly what needs to be filled, where, and when. This saves them time and energy, reduces waste, and keeps restrooms running efficiently. In turn, it provides data that facility managers can use to help determine the allocation of their maintenance staff and respond to maintenance issues before they are formally logged (or even noticed) by employees or customers.

Dirty floors, foul odors, and a lack of toilet tissue, soap, and paper towels used to be a standard part of using a facility's restroom -- sometimes to the point where employees or customers would refrain until they could go home. Modern restroom maintenance technology helps improve the experience for both restroom visitors and maintenance staff, allowing restrooms to be cleaned, restocked, and kept in good repair with far greater efficiency. The end result is a healthier workplace, happier customers, more productive employees, and maintenance workers that are able to respond to problems as soon as they arise.

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Effective Management Tips for Property Managers

As a property manager, you are tasked with overseeing multitudes of projects every day. The property owners as well as the tenants on the property look to you to ensure these tasks get done on time and without fail. You can exceed their expectations and be a successful manager by using these tips for effective property management.

Be a People Person

Managing a rental property cannot be done effectively from behind a desk or while working in an office. In this career, you have to be a people person and ready to interact with a wide variety of people on a daily basis.

The people you can expect to encounter at any time in this job include the property's owners as well as maintenance staff and contractors like landscapers or roofers. You also will interact with people who live in the rental units and also prospective tenants who wish to apply for residency there.

To be a successful property manager, you must adopt friendly if not firm and professional behaviors when interacting with people on a daily basis. Being ready to greet and speak with a variety of individuals each day works in your favor when you are determined to be the best manager for the property.

Use the Latest Technology

Some aspects of your job will require you to use written communications like work orders or notices to enter rental units. However, the bulk of your work can be done effectively and quickly when you use the latest technology.

Property managers like you should feel completely at ease communicating with tenants, owners, maintenance staff, and others by text and email. You should also keep important documents stored and backed up on computer programs or even more ideally in secure cloud storage.

This technology not only safeguards important communications and paperwork. It also makes your job as a property manager easier.

Hire and Retain an Effective Team

Your job as a property manager will also be easier and more effective when you hire and retain a skilled team to work alongside with you. You may need to hire an office manager to answer phones and greet people who come into the office. You also may want to hire an assistant property manager who can help you with your daily projects and also act in your place when you take a day off or are busy handling other tasks.

Others that you might want to include in your team are skilled maintenance staff who can repair and maintain the rental units. You likewise will probably be tasked with choosing what contractors like landscapers, roofers, and plumbers with which to partner to manage the upkeep of the property itself.

An effective team will allow you to focus on the more important tasks assigned to you as the property manager. It also will improve the integrity and appearance of the property of which you are in charge.

Know the Current Housing Laws

It is imperative that you are knowledgeable in the current housing laws in your state. Housing and tenant laws vary from state to state. What is standard in one state could be entirely illegal where you live.

You can read up on tenant and housing laws by searching the Internet. You can also take courses offered by organizations like HUD to learn what laws to use and abide by while managing your property.

Carefully Screen Tenants

Perhaps the most important obligation you have as a property manager involves screening potential tenants carefully. You have a duty to the property's owner to vet and approve tenants who will pay their rent on time and also take care of their rental units.

You likewise have an obligation to the tenants who already live there. You do not want to approve the application of someone who may be a danger to the residents or at minimum be a nuisance with which they will have to deal on a daily basis. By carefully screening applicants, you can approve people who will be an asset to the community.

By following these guidelines, you could become the most effective manager for a rental property. You will satisfy the expectations of the person or people who own the property and also be a manager that your tenants can appreciate and feel comfortable approaching on a daily basis.

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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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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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Moisture Management

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

Recognizing Moisture Vulnerabilities

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

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

Establish a Plan

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

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

Maintenance and Inspection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster

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

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


Emergency Preparations

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

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

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



Utilize Smartphone Apps

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

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



Data Protection

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

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



Build a Telecommunication Strategy

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

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

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

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

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Outsourcing Janitorial Services

outsourced janitorial services

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

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

Advantages of Outsourcing

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

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

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

Disadvantages of Outsourcing

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

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

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

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

Options for Outsourcing

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

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

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Fall and Winter Preparedness for Facility Managers

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


Risk Assessment

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

Winter Maintenance

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

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

Aim for Energy Efficiency

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

Protect Your Data and Technology

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

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

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


Consider a Telecommuting Plan

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

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

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

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

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