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Blog

Staying Competitive in the Facility Management Sector

Smart facilities management is crucial when it comes to inhabiting work spaces and recruiting and maintaining talent. It has the ability to drive employee performance and increase productivity as well as maintain a company's competitive edge in the market.

Because of its importance, facilities management must evolve and change with the pace of the global marketplace today. These strategies could allow for your own building to stay competitive in the facilities management sector.

Value Creation

Until recently, one of the primary focuses of facilities management involved keeping costs as low as possible. You may have looked for every way to shave a few dollars off your building's operating costs. You aimed to reduce expenses while getting the most return for every dollar you did spend.

As facilities management strategies evolve, saving money will still be important. However, the main focus will shift to finding ways to create value with work space inhabitants and stakeholders.

You will need to adopt progressive technologies that will permit for increased mobility and provide for better conditions for training your employees. It also will allow for a healthier workplace environment that will increase productivity, decrease absenteeism, and minimize the level of stress.

Sustainable Energy Management

Another strategy that will come into play with tomorrow's facilities management involves increasing the sustainability of your building across all activities and platforms. You will need to rethink your building's existing assets and create a framework for it that is sustainable.

This could involve making life-cycle assessments and undertaking a new approach to life-cycle building management. It could also involve training employees themselves to maintain a sustainable workplace.

Regardless, your primary focus should involve finding cost-effective, sustainable ways to reduce energy levels, waste, and your building's overall carbon footprint. These methods will carry over to your main role of transforming energy management in your building, recycling, water management, safety, health, and other key aspects of effective facilities management.

Space Optimization

When it comes to reducing costs in your building, you could achieve your goal by optimizing the way that its spaces are used. To improve the use of space in your building, you can create flexible workstations for employees.

You also can redistribute workplace strategies and utilize mobile work spaces and mobile workers as a part of your approach to facilities management. Your focus should revolve around using less space with better space propositions.

The Best Use of Technology

Making the best use of technology is important to facilities management for several reasons. To start, it can impact the manner in which your building's employees perform their everyday jobs. It can also allow for the creation of different work spaces like assigned or shared workstations, virtual work spaces, home offices, or flexible offices.

Technology can also enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of work spaces and workplaces. You can take all of the available technology to support your building's employees while responding and proactively using it to leverage optimization in the workplace.

Personalized Delivery Service

Finally, competitive facilities management of tomorrow should focus on the creation of personalized service deliveries. Personalized service deliveries allow for supporting new ways of working and the creation of a fit-for-purpose approach to facilities management. It allows each company to be unique in this regard.

In fact, when workplace strategies among companies differ from each other, they permit customers to make demands for their individual specific and exact needs. Personalized delivery services go beyond the management of assets and systems.

In the near future, clients will require service providers to understand their businesses. You can thus train front-line service employees to deliver on that client understanding.

The future of facilities management will shift the focus from practices to which you are currently accustomed to strategies that will further enhance productivity, performance, and profit. It will require you to make the best use of modern technology while personalizing services demanded by your clients.

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Smart Buildings and Facility Management

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

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

What is a Smart Building?

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

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

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

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

Controlling Internal Operations

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

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

Streamlined Facilities Management

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

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

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

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

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Sustainable Facility Management

In the modern age of information, society has come to terms with humanity’s destructive impact on the environment. A large majority of scientific experts and lawmakers argue that policies need to be implemented to reduce this man-made ecological impact. A growing number of consumers agree, and they have made the conscious decision to make more responsible choices about the companies they give money to.

Facility managers have always needed to remain compliant with the laws and societal standards, and it appears that sustainability policies are quickly becoming a new societal demand from companies. Adopting these business practices gives your business a competitive advantage over other businesses, but it does come at a cost.

What is Sustainability?

Broadly defined, sustainability means utilizing our resources in a way that both meets present needs and focuses on long-term stability. The Brundtland Commission explains that refraining from “compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” is paramount to sustainability.

In a world where humanity’s life-support resources are declining and the demand for these resources is increasing, sustainability seeks to more responsibly utilize these valuable resources to maintain an ecological balance. Forum for the Future lays out five of the key aspects of sustainability including care for the environment, respect for ecological constraints, equity, partnership and quality of life. In summary, sustainability is an attempt to protect the environment while simultaneously driving innovation, improving human health and maintaining our way of life.

What is Sustainable Facility Management?

Sustainable facility management describes the method of managing your company’s business, resources, people and infrastructure in such a way that it optimizes the long-term environmental, economic and social stability. Facility managers influence sustainability when making decisions about environmental management, during building construction and when conducting maintenance.

Some sustainable business practices include tracking your energy use, assessing water consumption, prioritizing energy improvement, managing your carbon footprint and reducing your facility’s baseline energy use. As a facility manager, you’ll need to understand any relevant policy regulations or governmental energy efficiency goals. As governments on the state and federal level make policy changes in favor of sustainable business practices, your business will need to remain compliant.

Advantages

The most important benefit of maintaining sustainable business practices is improving the overall quality of life for all citizens. Many organizations choose to focus on sustainability as both a goal and mission, and the practice is often embraced as part of the company’s brand. Consumers are becoming increasingly health-conscious and Eco-friendly.

Consumers are making more responsible decisions about the products they purchase, so including sustainability as an integral part of your business will have a positive impact on the public perception of your company and boost profits.

Another advantage of sustainability is that companies are at a competitive advantage and may even receive government benefits due to their environmental policies and practices. Ideally, enhancing your company’s productivity, profits, safety standards, health and efficiency are always top-priority goals. Enforcing sustainable goals as a part of facility management will be beneficial in various areas of your business.

Disadvantages

While all the advantages of sustainable facility management practices sound unbeatable, they do come at a cost, and that cost is relatively high. The most commonly reported challenge faced by facility managers when it comes to sustainability is the high expectation of energy and water costs and a lack of available funding.

Eco-friendly building materials, supplies and products are typically more expensive, and the cost reduction in energy savings usually isn’t enough to quickly offset the upfront expenses. 

In the study of ecology, sustainability is defined at the ability of biological systems to say diverse and survive indefinitely. Facility managers that adopt sustainable business practices gain a competitive advantage, boost their public perception and help protect the environment for future generations. While these practices do come at a cost, they are typically seen as the responsible choice for today’s businesses.

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The Pros and Cons of an Open Workspace

Silicon Valley is well-known for its incredibly successful global tech companies. Companies like Apple, Google and Facebook have all revolutionized facility management styles with new solutions like the recent open-office trend. Facility managers around the globe take note of the management styles and trends coming out of Silicon Valley because of the apparent success of these businesses, and the open work space trend has quickly become the new normal.

The International Facility Management Association reported that by 2014 around 70 percent of American offices had low or no partitions to facilitate a more open work space. An open office creates both advantages and disadvantages in the work space. Facility managers should weigh their company’s goals and look at the evidence presented to decide if an open work space environment is a potential solution for their business. 


Benefits of an Open Work Space

The number one reason facility managers consider moving to an open work space is because it is much more cost-effective than private offices or cubicles. Shared workstations mean less overall financial investment into private desks, individual rooms, materials and other building costs. Additionally, facility managers consider strategic motives like improving social support, cooperation and communication between team members when considering an open work space.

Silicon Valley titans like Yahoo!, Facebook and eBay argue that an open office design facilitates fairness, transparency, productivity, communication and innovation. Communication between employees improves, and different team members will be more engaged with one another with an open work space design.

Research indicates a phenomenon called “culture collision” occurs when a chance encounter between workers boosts each employee’s creativity and sense of community. These culture collisions are proven to boost overall office productivity rates.

Without assigned offices and cubicles, an open work area is more flexible than traditional designs. More employees can operate in an open space, and the layout can be rearranged as needed. This allows for maximum space utilization. Another positive aspect of an open work space design is the eco-friendly energy implications.

Open offices are the green choice because the design reduces the strain on heating and cooling systems, gives more opportunities for broad daylight windows and involves less construction waste. Another important reason facility managers are opting for an open work space design because it is both aesthetically pleasing and trendy with the newer millennial generation. Business owners report that an open work space design leaves a positive impression on clients, whereas the traditional cubicle-style design is often seen as old-fashioned. 

Consequences of an Open Office

One of the most glaring disadvantages to having an open office design is the increase in noise level and distraction for employees. It has been repeatedly cited in many studies that simple noise impairs concentration and cognitive performance.

Matthew Davis, an organizational psychologist, reviewed over one hundred studies relating to office design to research the psychological effects on employees from an open office design. His published findings show that an open work space means an increase in uncontrolled disruptions, higher levels of stress, lowered concentration levels, lowered productivity and a decrease in worker satisfaction. 

Facility managers recognize that a sense of privacy boosts productivity, but an open office removes this aspect. An often-cited study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that around half of all open office workers were unhappy with the lack of sound privacy, and 40 percent complained about a lack of visual privacy.

Additionally, more open space leaves employees more vulnerable to contagious germs. One study comparing different office designs found that employees who worked in open offices took more time off due to illness . Another study published in the 2014 Journal of Ergonomics confirmed these results. 

Silicon Valley seems to have reinvigorated the open office movement, yet it may come as a surprise that open office designs were the norm back in the 1950s and 1960s. An open floor plan may be a good fit for some businesses, but it’s not a good option for every company.

Facility managers need to consider that every employee works differently, and the potential advantages and disadvantages to an open work space are highly dependent on various job functions and the company’s overall goals. While large tech companies like Google that rely on innovative ideas and collaboration greatly benefit from this open office design, facility managers should carefully consider their options before jumping on-board with the trend.

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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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