How Can Facilities Management Add Value?

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist

It’s the ongoing mission of every business to add value to its operations. Whether it’s bottom-line savings or the opportunity to enrich company culture, successful businesses capitalize where they can. That includes leveraging facilities to their benefit whenever possible. How can facilities management add value? In more ways than you think.

To understand the value of good facilities management, it’s vital to look at its core functions. Where and how do facilities touch business operations? Identifying the links between facilities and operations allows managers to develop strategies for creating and maximizing value at every level.

Spotlight on the functions of facilities management

What are the functions of facility management? They are many and diverse, but each is an important cog in the greater role of keeping business operations running smooth. Here are the core tenants of facilities management, as defined by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA):

  • Building operations
  • Employee safety and security
  • Environmental and sustainability
  • Grounds management
  • Project management
  • Real estate management
  • Space planning
  • Workplace strategy

Facilities touch every part of the business. In focusing on these vital aspects of facilities, businesses gain powerful benefits that translate into value-adds at every level of operation. Here’s a look at some of the most important.

Reduced costs attributed to real estate 

Ask yourself, what is the importance of facility management? Above all else, why should a company care about upkeep, maintenance, and oversight of facilities? Here’s a hint: the answer involves dollar signs.

Aside from salaries, facilities are the largest expense on a company’s balance sheet. Much of this total cost breaks down into upkeep and maintenance—which, at some level, are variable costs. Where the lease is a fixed cost, different levels of maintenance and management come with different costs. Many times, the difference between preventive, routine maintenance and reactive repairs is tens of thousands of dollars! Effective oversight of facilities equates to bottom-line savings.

Improved culture and employee satisfaction

The purpose of facilities is to serve the operational needs of the business. Above all, facilities need to provide a productive environment for employees. When you give employees a place to work that makes them feel welcome, accommodated, comfortable, and valued, it translates into better productivity and top-line growth. It’s no secret that happier employees do better work.

The link between facilities management and culture goes far beyond better productivity. It also extends to valuable aspects of company growth, such as talent acquisition and retention, improved company reputation, and even industry reputation. If facilities are a reflection of your company’s values and priorities, good facility management is a strong indicator of excellence and a positive reflection on the company. Few things are so valuable as a strong reputation.

Proactive safety and preparedness

There is no substitute for safety and preparedness. To ensure these things takes emphasis on facilities management. The value that comes from emergency action plans, systems upkeep, and infrastructure evaluation is unparalleled in times of crisis. Good facilities management can literally save lives.

Employee safety and security, alongside environmental and sustainability planning, make up an essential area of value for companies to capitalize on. Not only is there value in potential life-saving planning, there’s tremendous value associated in the preparedness of facilities. For example, investment in digital facilities management leads to agility after workplace disruptions—the ability for employees to work remote or to adapt available workspaces around new parameters. Few events exemplify this like our current pandemic state in 2020.

Create a robust facilities management strategy

What is a facilities management strategy? It’s a comprehensive look at the many facets of facilities management and how they affect the success of your company. In other words, what can you do that’s facilities-focused, that contributes to the broader mission and objectives of the business?

Break this down into granular focuses. For example, what are you doing within your facilities to promote employee safety and security, and what effect does this have on company culture? Or, how has your space planning affected overhead costs and does the current strategy meet employee demands?

You’ll find that asking questions like these quickly weaves a complex web with facilities at the center of it all. Take the time to examine each strand in the web and ask yourself, are we doing everything we can to manage this aspect of facilities appropriately? If there’s value derived from your approach, it’s a good sign you’re approaching management correctly. If you follow the thread and can’t find a benefit, it’s time to reassess your approach to facilities management.

Keep reading: How do I select the right facility management software?


Coworking Space Management Software

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist

The rise of the agile workplace has shed light on the need for facility managers to control as many variables related to workspaces as possible. The more you control, the easier it is to coordinate spaces in real-time, at the drop of a hat. Nothing exemplifies this better than coworking spaces. Through coworking space management software, workplace managers can take a highly flexible workspace concept and seamlessly accommodate a diverse group of workers—all while maintaining the independent work habits of each person.

The secret to identifying and controlling broad workplace variables? Software. Space management software contrives and delivers the insights decision-makers need to operate facilities effectively.

What is space management software?

Space management software provides a top-down view of important metrics concerning real estate, including:

  • How and when it’s used
  • Space delegation and type
  • Static and real-time capacity
  • Space accommodations and capabilities
  • Space location within a broad floor plan
  • What the cost of ownership is

The purpose of space management software is to combine all these variables into actionable insights a facility manager can use to optimize space. Space management software helps fulfill specific objectives, such as a goal to improve space utilization or an initiative to optimize a floor plan based on utilization.

What is coworking software?

Coworking software is space management software specifically designed for coworking spaces. It offers features to manage a highly dynamic workforce and the broad ebb and flow of patronage that comes with a membership-style business model. It’s also configured to manage multiple different types of spaces and different variables like available seating and preset time limits. It’s effectively space management software designed for extremely agile workspaces, where people constantly come and go.

How do you manage a coworking space? 

This is the $64,000 question, isn’t it? On the surface, a coworking space can seem impossible to manage purely based on the intended function of these spaces. If coworking is free-flowing and dynamic with loose infrastructure and gentle oversight, how can you bring order and organization to operations?

The answer comes in the form of behind-the-scenes infrastructure, powered by coworking space management software. Here are some basic examples that lend themselves to coworking oversight.

  • Membership management. Asking people to check in before they enter a coworking space is the simplest form of management there is. Whether it’s entering a member ID on a tablet, swiping a card, or checking in at a desk, this form of access control is essential for managing elements like capacity, culture, and safety.
  • Space management. Delegate different areas of your total floor plan to different types of desking arrangements. You can even do this based on check-in metrics by asking people what type of space they prefer. Benching, individual workspaces, group spaces, and experiential spaces are all valuable and subject to scalability in a coworking space.
  • Time management. Some coworking spaces opt to cap time for visitors—usually at half-day (four-hour) and full-day (eight-hour) increments. This simple time management practice offers controls for occupancy levels and space utilization, with the ability to plan effectively to accommodate groups or an influx of workers on a specific day or time.
  • Analytics management. Tracking the effective use of a coworking space is important for broad management purposes. What days are you busiest? What time of day is busiest? What desk types are most-used and least-used? This data and more informs the general management practices that keep a coworking space efficient and effective.
  • Occupancy management. Is there room in your coworking facility right now for a group of four? How many unoccupied seats are typically available at 4pm on a Friday afternoon? When you understand occupancy, you understand the most basic nuances of how to delegate and optimize space, as well as control the flow of workers in it.

None of these management practices are possible without coworking space management software. Software delivers the insights, controls, and organization required to bring order and oversight to coworking: a concept that’s built on offering people the inherent freedom to work how and when they want.

Coworking shouldn’t be chaotic

Coworking is a versatile, efficient way to accommodate different types of employees and their various work habits within a single space. But with this high level of diversity comes high demand for oversight. Coworking can’t be a chaotic experience or it’ll invalidate the many benefits offered to occupants. Instead, it needs to be a smooth, organized experience that offers flexibility to occupants within the framework of greater controls.

Think of coworking management as a give and take. You can choose any desk you want, but you can only occupy it for four hours at a time. You can come at any time you want, but the type of desk you want is subject to current occupancy. These variables are all in flux, but carefully managed by a facility manager through coworking space management software. The result is the freedom to work as you please, within the context of a controlled environment.

Keep reading: Who Uses Coworking Spaces?


Building Preventive Maintenance Checklist

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist

Of all the tools at the disposal of a facility manager, few are so simple or as important as a building preventive maintenance checklist. It’s the key to deciphering one of the most arduous tasks of overseeing facilities: upkeep and maintenance. A preventive maintenance checklist brings order and organization to an otherwise monumental task, and gives facility managers the opportunity to look into the future, at the costs, challenges, and responsibilities ahead of them.

What is preventive maintenance in a building? In short, it’s the practice of preventing problems from arising by giving due attention to fundamental components that power larger systems. In the same way you get an oil change so friction doesn’t destroy your car’s engine, there are hundreds of simple tasks that keep facilities running smooth. Channeling those many tasks into a checklist is the best way to keep tabs on them, before little disruptions become big, costly problems.

What is a preventive maintenance checklist?

A preventive maintenance checklist includes any maintenance or upkeep tasks you can predict and plan for—usually recurring tasks. The idea is that doing these tasks will prevent avoidable problems from arising and keep critical systems running efficient.

How do you prepare a preventive maintenance checklist?

Following an established preventive maintenance checklist is simple; creating one takes more forethought.

Start by identifying each of the critical systems within your building. This usually boils down to the HVAC system, plumbing, electrical, infrastructure, landscaping, and interior, although more complex facilities will come with more complex needs. Break each of these systems out into its own section of the preventive maintenance checklist. “System” is the highest level in the taxonomy of a maintenance checklist.

Next, identify the complete scope of proactive tasks associated with each system. If you can plan for it or preempt something larger through a task, it belongs on the list. Some systems will include more tasks than others, but the idea is to create a comprehensive overview of each system.

Once you organize all the individual “tasks” by system, you’ll need to further organize them by “frequency.” Which tasks will you do daily? Weekly? Bi-weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? Bi-annually? Annually? Group tasks by frequency and order them from high to low frequency on the preventive maintenance checklist.

At this stage of building a preventive maintenance checklist, the framework of the checklist should be evident. It should be easy to flip through the plan to a specific system (HVAC), identify a preventive task (filter change), and see the frequency of that task (monthly). But this is still a basic approach to preventive maintenance. Modern software unlocks even more opportunities.

Software’s role in checklist creation

Thanks to Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software and Integrated Workplace Management Software (IWMS), facility managers can take static maintenance checklists and make them dynamic and connected. Imagine loading your checklist into a system with any of the following features:

  • Alerts for upcoming, due, and overdue maintenance tasks
  • Automated recordkeeping for finished maintenance tasks
  • Assign preventive maintenance tasks to in-house staff and vendors
  • Linking maintenance tasks to a digital twin of the building
  • Reporting on scheduled and unscheduled maintenance for capital systems

The list of features and capabilities offered by modern maintenance tracking software goes on and on. The reason these capabilities are so important is because they build on the automation principles introduced by a checklist. In a way, a checklist is a form of automation—or, at a minimum, has all the variables for automation. Software takes these variables and connects them to other important facets of preventive maintenance management, for comprehensive results.

Consider roles and delegation

A building maintenance checklist is only as good as the people doing the work—whether that’s in-house craftspeople or partner companies operating on service-level agreements (SLAs). It’s best to delegate right on the checklist, so there’s no confusion about who’s doing what.

  • At a baseline level, you might delegate as “in-house” or “vendor”
  • More specifically, you can delegate tasks via “department” or “specific vendor”
  • For in-house tasks, you can assign in a more exact capacity, such as “Tim B.”

Once a task has an owner, go a step further and assign a specific date. Remember, these are preventive tasks that you can and should plan for, so plan for them as specifically and accurately as you can. On your checklist, it might look something like this:

  • (10/15) Replace Furnace Filter, Assigned to HVAC Vendor (SLA)

The goal is for anyone to pick up your maintenance checklist and be able to deduce rather quickly what maintenance tasks are upcoming or due. Then, they should know who’s responsible and when and how those tasks get done.

Simple checklists are powerful tools

A lot of work goes into building a complete building maintenance checklist, but the payoff is well worth it. Backed by a checklist, building management goes from being a complex, chaotic task to simplified, easy-to-orchestrate groupings of tasks. Best of all, it keeps facilities running smooth and protects a company’s bottom line from avoidable costs due to avoidable problems. It all starts with a simple checklist.

Keep reading: Breaking Down BIM Facility Management Software