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What is a Facility Officer?

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

Officer is a title that commands a certain amount of respect. Whether it’s Officer Friendly who’s writing you a speeding ticket or the Chief Operating Officer at your company, we defer to officers for direction and leadership. There’s no different when it comes to facilities management.

What is a facility officer? While this title actually has different meanings depending on context—like what part of the world you work in—it nevertheless commands a certain amount of respect. Below, we’ll dive into what a facility officer is, what their roles and responsibilities are, and how they factor into the greater function of facilities management.

The many faces of a facility officer

Facility officer is often another way to describe a facility manager, and there are actually upwards of two dozen titles to describe a facility manager! Facility officer (or facility management officer) is most commonly used in the United Kingdom and Australia. It’s the international parallel to facilities manager—or whichever synonym best fits someone in charge of facilities upkeep, oversight, and maintenance.

There is one caveat to the role of “facility officer,” and that’s as a member of the C-suite. More and more, companies are promoting a Chief Facility Officer to the boardroom. This person operates in the same way a Chief Operating Officer might, only instead of focusing on operations, a Chief Facility Officer focuses on the systems that facilitate those operations: the facilities themselves.

Roles and responsibilities

Facility officers concern themselves with management, maintenance, and general upkeep of facilities. What is included in facilities management? According to the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), there are six clear areas of focus for a facility officer:

  1. Building technology (smart buildings)
  2. Employee health and safety
  3. Recruitment and training
  4. Environmental efforts
  5. Maintenance and upkeep
  6. Culture and social support

Each of these aspects factors into the broader role of facilities: to support the workforce that relies on them. It segues into an even more important question: what is the role of a facility manager? While the exact answer depends on the company in question, there’s a fundamental purpose that underscores this role in any setting.

The role of a facility manager (or facility officer) is to transform facilities from a cost center into a competitive advantage—turn one of the company’s largest single expenses into an asset. Facility professionals need to constantly look for ways to leverage facilities into ROI, whether that’s supporting employees or bottom-line cost-saving improvements.

The growing need for facilities leadership

Facility officers are quickly becoming in-demand positions for companies of all sizes. They help small companies make the most of limited facility resources and assist large companies keep their facilities costs in-check. They promote efficiency and workforce optimization for companies of any size.

The biggest driver for facility officers is the changing workplace landscape. Post-COVID-19, the workplace looks very different. While open-concept workplaces and hot desks were already standard pre-pandemic, they’re quickly giving way to more complex work environments that include free-assign workspaces, flex work schedules, and distributed teams. Companies need leadership within these new paradigms—both in how to utilize the workplace effectively and in the development of new processes and protocols. The task falls to facility officers.

There’s also the rising cost of commercial real estate to consider. Space is getting more expensive! That means companies need to work harder to utilize it more efficiently. Flexible desking concepts help maximize space utilization, but they’re not enough by themselves. Companies also need to implement new space management strategies and maximize building upkeep to stay competitive.

All these demands come with one very important caveat: facilities still need to support workers. This is at the heart of why demand for facility officers is growing. More than executing on changing workplace trends, companies need to act with purpose and mindfulness. Facility officers bridge the gap between change and purpose, so companies and employees alike can reap the benefits of a changing workplace.

Put someone in charge of facilities

Your company likely has a Chief Operating Officer (COO) and a Chief Financial Officer (CFO), among other leadership positions. Why not a Chief Facility Officer?

Facilities are a central part of operations and a major contributor to business success. It’s vital for companies to put someone at the helm of their facilities, in a leadership position to coordinate the many facets of facilities upkeep and optimization. It’s not only a smart way to prioritize facilities—it’s becoming an essential role as companies lean into optimization aspects of a commercial real estate strategy.

Keep reading: What is a Facility Maintenance Manager’s Scope of Work?

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What is Facilities Maintenance Support Services?

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

Facility maintenance encompasses a broad spectrum of tasks, big and small. While we tend to think of something like elevator repair as the definition of facility maintenance, you could also argue that changing a lightbulb or changing the break room garbage are also simple forms of maintenance. Such a broad scope of upkeep is why most facilities managers rely on support services from vendors.

What is facilities maintenance support services? Depending on the size of a company and its facilities, support services can encompass some or all of the upkeep of a building. A facility manager delegates these services to approved vendors through service-level agreements (SLAs), so that when the time comes for specific action, there’s no question of who, when, how, or what’s involved. Facilities maintenance support services are an integral part of what keeps facilities running smooth.

The scope of facilities maintenance

What does facility maintenance mean? In a broad sense, it’s anything to do with building upkeep. Landscaping, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and more are all examples of integral property systems, each with a host of demands to facilitate upkeep. These are also known as “hard” facilities management tasks.

Within each system, the concept of maintenance breaks down into two schools of thought: proactive and reactive maintenance. Proactive maintenance—also called planned maintenance—is anything a facility manager can budget and plan for. Reactive maintenance encompasses unexpected, unplanned repairs.

  • Proactive maintenance includes items like HVAC tune-ups or weekly janitorial services
  • Reactive maintenance includes tasks like snow removal or unplanned plumbing repair

What is the function of facilities maintenance? Whether proactive or reactive, facility maintenance is vital across systems. Failure to keep up on HVAC maintenance can lead to AC failure during a heat wave. Lack of janitorial planning leads to unsanitary workplace conditions. These examples and countless others show why facilities maintenance is a priority for any company.

A look at vendors and SLAs

When you consider the broad scope of facilities maintenance, it’s apparent that no single person can do it all. This is where support services come in—namely vendors and SLAs. While large companies may have in-house staff to handle everyday maintenance and upkeep of facilities, vendors and SLAs cover everything beyond the basics. Here are some examples:

  • Plumbers for anything related to water supply and drainage
  • Electricians for all wiring, lighting, and power supply systems
  • HVAC techs for climate control fixtures and supply systems
  • Landscaping companies for groundskeeping and exteriors
  • General contractors for infrastructure upkeep and remodeling

The list of craftspeople that may become part of a company’s vendor pool is nearly infinite and depends on the demands of the facilities themselves. Have a brick façade? Add a mason to the list. Operate a sterile environment? You’ll need specialty janitorial services. The list of needs and service professionals goes on and on.

Every vendor lending facilities maintenance support services operates on an SLA. This document outlines the services that vendor provides, in what capacity, the rate they charge, what the expectations are for the working agreement, and anything else pertinent to delivery of services. It effectively governs the relationship between the vendor and the company, to expedite delivery of support service. SLAs are also an important budgeting tool.

Integrated facilities management

Speaking of SLAs, it’s important to understand how complex the web of facilities maintenance support services can become. Dozens (or hundreds) of vendors with unique SLAs is overwhelming. It’s enough to make facility managers consider integrated facilities management.

This strategy combines support services under larger SLAs with fewer companies. Instead of using three companies for janitorial services, an integrated approach gives the contract to a single company capable of delivering a full scope of work. While efficient, this strategy requires careful consideration. What are the types of facility maintenance your building needs? What are your current vendor relationships for these services? What is the cost of each SLA vs. an integrated SLA?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing maintenance support services. That said, integrated facilities management has proven effective for many companies with growing support service needs. It’s likely to continue trending upward as stakeholders pass demand for bottom line savings on to facilities managers.

It takes a village

No single person can give facilities the complete attention they need when it comes to upkeep. From plumbers, electricians, and HVAC techs, to carpenters, glass repair experts, and landscapers, every craftsperson has a role. Each segment of facilities maintenance culminates in a well-run, well-managed, well-maintained building.

Whether through many different SLAs or an integrated facilities management approach, it’s up to facilities managers to delegate and coordinate facilities maintenance support services. Done effectively, facilities will have no trouble serving the needs of the people relying on them.

Keep reading: Get Familiar with a Facility Maintenance Plan

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What is the Average Salary for a Facilities Manager?

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

One of the first things any job-seeker wants to know when applying for a position is what it pays. Unfortunately, this information isn’t always apparent—especially for an emerging position like facilities manager. Some job posts offer a salary range; others say things like “salary varies with experience.” For professionals interested in a career in facilities management, this isn’t helpful. It begs the question: what is the average salary for a facilities manager?

While there’s bound to be some variance in facilities manager salary across different regions, industries, and company sizes, it’s still worth knowing what the average salary is. We’ve collected data for facilities managers across the spectrum to shed more light on realistic salary expectations. Below, we’ll dive into salary information and what makes facilities management such a good career option for the future.

What is a facility manager? 

A facility manager can go by many different names, depending on the company and the core responsibilities they’re hiring for. Ultimately, the role of a facility manager is to bridge the gap between facilities and the people who use them. The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) splits the duties of a facility manager into six key areas of focus:

  1. Building technology (smart buildings)
  2. Employee health and safety
  3. Recruitment and training
  4. Environmental efforts
  5. Maintenance and upkeep
  6. Culture and social support

From emergency preparedness planning to coordinating janitorial services, scheduled HVAC maintenance to seasonal property services, facilities management spans hard and soft services. Hard services keep facilities up and running; soft services directly affect employees and visitors.

Facility managers are ultimately responsible for leveraging the company’s largest cost center (facilities) into a competitive advantage.

Salary data for facilities managers

According to data compiled from Salary.com, PayScale.com, and Glassdoor, the average salary of a facility manager ranges significantly depending on the size of the company and its location in the U.S. Below is a compilation of salary data with context to provide a better understanding of what to expect when applying for this position.

  • The average facilities manager salary in the United States is $99,103
  • Experienced facilities managers can expect to earn between $84,964 and $113,381
  • Average starting salary for a new facility manager is $66,776
  • Multinational companies like Amazon and Oracle offer salaries as much as 10% higher
  • Companies in major cities like Chicago and New York pay premiums as high as 20%

Education, certifications, skills, and years of experience all impact salary. In addition, industry plays a role. Data indicates that companies with heavy real estate portfolios value experienced facility managers more. Likewise, complex industries like aerospace and supply chain management pay higher than average annual salaries.

Perhaps most enticing about the salary data for facilities management is the jump from facility manager to facility director or Chief Facility Officer. These roles command an average salary of $130,102, spanning a range of $113,502 and $148,207. With strong potential for upward mobility in this industry, future salary is worth considering for facility managers seeking to establish a career.

Job outlook and future prospects

Is facilities management a good career? According to a report from Markets and Markets, now’s a good time to get into the field. A five-year forward-looking report on the facilities management job market predicts growth “from $39.5 billion in 2020 to $65.5 billion by 2025, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.6%.

Not only are job prospects bright, an evolving commercial real estate (CRE) industry has shed new light on the importance of good facilities management. Facilities managers are more in demand than ever before and are growing more important by the day. The rise of the office IoT and smart buildings, coupled with flex work and free assigned workspace trends, is pushing companies to make strategic real estate investments. One of the most essential is an investment in a facility manager who can maximize CRE assets and minimize costs.

The job market is bright for facilities managers, growing brighter with each passing year. There’s ample opportunity for new entrants into the field, as well. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are as many as 26,300 new openings for facilities managers annually, but only 21,200 new candidates to fill them. It’s still an untapped job market.

Why is facilities management so important?

There’s a reason companies are willing to pay strong salaries to facilities managers. Consider the cost savings of proper space utilization or free assigned workplace management. Think about the revenue opportunities for a well-managed agile workforce. Imagine the ROI from proper building maintenance. In capable hands, facility management has the power to offset the cost of a facility manager’s salary.

Demand for facilities managers is on the rise, which means salaries will likely become more competitive as time goes on. Now’s a great time to weigh the benefits of a career in facilities management against an average salary that’s already enticing.

Keep reading: How to Become a Facilities Manager

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What Makes a Good Facility Manager?

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

An air traffic controller isn’t qualified for the same job as an architect, who isn’t likely equipped to be a marine biologist. Given these examples, it’s obvious that certain jobs demand certain skills. It’s no different for facilities management. Not just anyone can be a good facility manager.

What makes a good facility manager? It starts with a unique set of traits, skills, and education, tailored for this role. Below, we’ll dive into not only what a facility manager is and what they’re responsible for, but how to hire for success in this position. With the right person in the role, companies can look to a facility manager for broad benefits they might not otherwise enjoy.

What is a facilities manager?

A facilities manager oversees the upkeep and use of property. This spans everything from delegation of maintenance tasks to vendors, to coordinating space utilization among the workforce. Facility managers are the link between facilities and the people who use them, as well as facilities and the broader goals of the company.

At a macro level, a facility manager might provide data to a corporate real estate manager about the cost and productivity of their facilities, which informs decision-making across a broad property portfolio. In a micro capacity, a facility manager is responsible for overseeing the room booking software employees use to reserve workspaces. These examples illustrate the broad scope of facilities and the need for a person (or team) to oversee them.

Facility manager is also a broad term that covers many different synonyms. Depending on the emphasis of job duties for a particular position, companies may use one of more than two dozen different terms to describe the role. At the end of the day, a facility manager is a little bit of everything: a strategist, coordinator, analyst, manager, and all-around problem-solver.

Roles and responsibilities

What is a facilities manager’s responsibilities? According to the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), the primary duties of a facility manager span six different areas of focus:

  • Building technology (smart buildings)
  • Employee health and safety
  • Recruitment and training
  • Environmental efforts
  • Maintenance and upkeep
  • Culture and social support

Within each of these areas of focus is a long list of sub-focuses and tasks, each directly linked to the building, business operations, and the people involved in them. They’re split into hard and soft facilities services.

A good facilities manager will know how to attend to the needs of a building so they benefit the people using it. This ranges from something as simple as proper space planning to prevent overcrowding, to establishing a multi-input system for support ticketing and facilities maintenance task delegation.

The primary responsibility of a facility manager comes down to one very simple concept: transform facilities from a cost center into a competitive advantage. A good facility manager is always asking “How can we turn this cost into an investment that yields a return?”

The traits of a good facility manager

A good facility manager is someone who can transform one of the largest balance sheet expenditures (facilities) into a strategic asset for business success. This doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a refined set of skills, logic-minded thinking, and a knack for problem-solving. IFMA lists the following 11 core competencies as the most valuable for a facility manager:

  • Communication
  • Facility information and technology management
  • Finance and business
  • Leadership and strategy
  • Occupancy and human factors
  • Operations and maintenance
  • Performance and quality
  • Project management
  • Real estate
  • Risk management
  • Sustainability

Successful facility managers understand how to marry these traits to the strategic initiatives of a company. How can we reduce facility upkeep costs to improve bottom-line financials? Will a new desking concept improve employee productivity? Are we practicing sustainable initiatives? These are just a few of the questions facility managers need to ask and answer as they look for ways to leverage facilities.

The right traits can help facility managers see opportunities amidst headwinds and long-term benefits ahead of short-term struggles. It takes competency in the above traits to bring such a complex concept like facilities management into focus and improve it in measurable ways.

Set your company up for success

What is the importance of facility management? You can’t put a price on a smooth-running workplace and the operational efficiencies it creates. A good facility manager can be the difference between a comfortable, efficient, hardworking team and disorganized, unmotivated employees.

A good facility manager has the traits and abilities to look at facilities and understand their interconnectedness to other aspects of business. A great facility manager will continually find ways to identify opportunities and improve the workplace to affect positive outcomes for the business.

Keep reading: Facility Manager Communication Tips for Promoting a Healthy Workplace

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Five Employee Engagement Strategies That Create Empathy

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

We’re living in a tumultuous time and have been for the past several years. Social justice and civil rights are at the forefront of numerous conversations, creeping into more and more aspects of daily life. Now, with the work-from-home movement in full swing, the lines between work and home have blurred. The need for employee engagement strategies is growing.

What are examples of employee engagement?

What is employee engagement strategies? They’re initiatives designed to strengthen different employee relationships, often correlating to a particular aspect of work. You might have an engagement initiative designed to foster teamwork, for example.

Today, there’s an urgent call to action for employers to create employee engagement strategies focused on empathy and empathetic education. Empathy is the key to understanding, which is vital for coping with the many social causes and movements active today. #MeToo, for sexual assault survivors. Black Lives Matter, for racial equality. Pronouns (she/her, he/him, they/them), to foster a gender-inclusive environment. These may be social movements, but they touch the workplace in a variety of different ways. It’s important to address them.

Empathy can be taught and learned, and employee engagement strategies are among the best tools for bringing empathy into the workplace. Here are five examples to help create empathy.

1. Diversity and inclusion training

One of the easiest ways to engage with employees and prioritize empathy is through diversity and inclusion training. While these types of seminars have a bad connotation, they’re as much a proactive teaching tool as a reactive one. Frame this type of training as an opportunity for employees and make sure there’s a safe space to foster discussion post-seminar. For many people, learning about race, religion, culture, sexuality, or gender outside of their own is a new experience. Healthy engagement is good for empathetic growth.

2. Match company values with initiatives

Get employees engaged by aligning your company’s core values with actionable initiatives. Build homes for the impoverished through Habitat for Humanity. Do a beach cleanup for an environmental movement. Help people register to vote. Actions speak louder than words, which makes company-led engagement opportunities among the most powerful for tying the company mission and values to empathetic causes.

3. Create a system for feedback and betterment

Engagement is impossible without the ability to be heard. Employees need to feel comfortable sharing—even when that means voicing disagreement or an unpopular opinion. A simple way to promote engagement is to create a system for feedback and betterment. Think of it like a new spin on the classic “suggestion box” concept. Employees submit concerns or considerations, and leadership creates opportunities to discuss those items. The goal is total company betterment, driven by a system where everyone has a voice and everyone is accountable.

4. Promote transparency in operations

Employees will actively disengage if they feel like there’s someone behind the curtain, pulling the strings. They demand transparency as part of their buy-in to company culture and expect to know how the company they’re affiliating themselves with presents itself. Has your business made political campaign contributions? Does it support local causes or charities? What public statements is leadership making about current events? More than anything, employees want to know what’s going on. Being upfront and honest with them is a core part of garnering buy-in and engagement.

5. Address social concerns openly

Especially in an era of changing work styles and standards, there’s more overlap between personal life and work life. Employees can’t turn emotions on and off depending on their surroundings or time of day. Companies need to promote open, honest, empathetic discussion about factors that may weigh heavy on their staff. Issues like mental health, social justice, economics, and politics loom large over people’s lives. Create a framework for discussion about these sensitive topics—one with proper guardrails and bumpers to keep conversation civil and respectful among peers. Even more valuable, give employees a forum to vent via a telehealth appointment or staff counselor.

An empathetic workforce is invaluable

How do you develop an employee engagement strategy focused on teaching empathy? Why take the time to create and foster an empathetic workforce? Because it goes beyond the social causes and conversations we’re having today. Whether you have a diverse workplace or one that’s relatively homogenous, the ability of your employees to be empathetic to the changing social paradigms of our time will have a direct and dramatic impact on the success of your company.

We’re living in a divisive and uncertain time. If there’s one thing we could all benefit from, it’s a little bit of empathy. To empathize is to understand and accept, even when you disagree. Teaching it as part of your workplace curriculum ensures that your workplace is a socially and emotionally inclusive one, able to identify and reap the talents of an increasingly diverse world.

Keep reading: Accountability and Acceptance for Remote Employees

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What is Facility Management in Real Estate?

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

Facilities underscore just about every aspect of operations, which makes them an important consideration in various facets of business planning. Among the largest of these considerations is real estate. What is facility management in real estate? What considerations do facilities managers need to make to optimize facilities, to offset the cost of real estate on the balance sheet? These are questions companies need to answer as they plan for the future.

Facilities management is a segment of broader real estate oversight. It’s focused on understanding the role of facilities in the total scope of a company’s physical presence. In addition, it identifies costs and needs associated with facilities and how they impact the business’ mission, goals, and strategies.

What is the role of facility management?

The role of facility management becomes an important part of planning for real estate decisions. What’s the total cost of ownership for your office space in Los Angeles, CA? What kind of capital expenditures are on the budget for next year? Do you have the maintenance staff to take on 10,000 square feet of additional space? These real estate questions are only the tip of the iceberg and part of a significant reliance on facility management.

Through hands-on facility management, stakeholders can get the answers they need to make high-level real estate decisions. Using the above examples:

  • Lease data and cost of upkeep can shed light on total cost of ownership
  • Enterprise asset maintenance (EAM) data shows upcoming capital expenditures
  • Evaluation of current square footage and maintenance staff helps plan for expansion

Without facility management insights, it wouldn’t be possible to make data-driven decisions about real estate at a high level.

What is the difference between property and facility management?

There’s often confusion between property management and facility management, especially in relation to broader real estate decision-making.

  • Property management involves working on behalf of the building owner to address tenant concerns. Property managers fill vacancies, oversee the safety and security of property, and, above all, maintain the profitability of the building for the owner.
  • Facility management encompasses the day-to-day and ongoing maintenance needs of the building and its occupants. The primary focus is on the building itself and the impact of its many systems on the occupants and visitors.

For businesses that own the building(s) they operate in, there’s likely a property and facility manager on staff. For companies leasing, their facility manager likely liaises with a property manager to ensure frictionless operation. In either case, property and facility management are important for real estate planning.

For example, if a property manager needs to raise the rent on behalf of the building owner, it’ll affect the cost of operation for the company occupying that space. Or, as a building ages, facilities costs might go up. It’s up to a facility manager to recognize and communicate this uptick in cost from a real estate perspective. Both perspectives come together to enhance the decision-making capabilities of real estate managers and C-level stakeholders looking ahead.

Consider facilities management software

Data is the most important link between facility management and real estate decision-making. To get it, facilities managers need to be diligent in collecting it, which means creating channels to collect and aggregate it. This is where facilities management software shines.

Consider a question like “Do you have the maintenance staff to take on 10,000 square feet of additional space?” It’s impossible to gauge without data to support an answer one way or another. Facilities management software can collect and yield relevant data to answer this question:

  • Total support tickets filed over the last 12 months
  • Average time between ticket submission and resolution
  • Average number of tickets worked per maintenance staff member
  • Total cost of maintenance over the past 12 months

These variables and others distill down into the variables required to provide a clear answer for real estate planning. A company might look at the data and say “based on the expediency of support ticket resolution and available staff, yes, we can handle an additional 10,000 square feet.” Or, they may find insufficient capability to absorb more duties over a broader scope of facilities. Either way, data bridges the gap between the current situation and next steps. It’s only possible with data gathered through facilities management software.

Real estate considerations are paramount

Consider the cost of real estate on your company’s balance sheet. What are you getting in return? Facilities management as a function of real estate planning lets companies see where their investment takes shape and how it impacts broad operations. It’s a look past the numbers, at how important real estate is and what it takes to keep your workforce, facilities, and company on a trajectory for success.

Keep reading: Why is Facility Management Important for Productivity?

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How Can Facility Management Reduce Costs?

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

One of the clear and present challenges facilities managers face during the COVID-19 pandemic is one of cost management. How can facility management reduce costs at a time when social distancing hampers space utilization? For most companies, the answer lies in space optimization. It’s a concept that’s easier talked about than implemented.

To optimize available space in a way that justifies cost, facilities managers need to explore alternative desking solutions and new forms of workplace management. This means free assigned workstations and agile workspaces, backed by practices like hoteling and shift delegation. At the center of it all is FM software. But these are only the ingredients for smarter facilities management. Here are a few concepts workplace managers can execute to reduce cost without putting drag on employees.

Consider cost of ownership for each workspace

Social distancing has thrown many workspaces into disarray. To reduce the cost of managing and maintaining space, understand exactly what that space costs to operate. What is the raw cost per square footage? What is the cost per head in your office? Calculate these new figures for context on workplace costs and the opportunities that exist to reduce them.

For example, you might realize that your 10-person conference room now costs more to operate as a six-person conference room. Would changing it to a six-person hoteling area justify the cost of ownership? Likewise, you might recognize the potential for a completely free assigned workplace as the means to accommodate fewer in-house workers, instead of wasting cost on static space that would otherwise go unused. It’s only possible to understand these options in the context of total cost of ownership for each space.

Adopt and adapt to free assign and flex spaces

Social distancing is quickly heralding the death of static office workspaces. The reason? Traditional desking is a 1:1 ratio, limiting the capabilities of a given workspace. A space with independent desking can’t conform to the needs of a group, for example, which limits the type of work employees can do in that space. As social distancing further limits occupancy, static workspaces face obsolescence.

Free assign and flex spaces are the future. The ability to transform a space to meet the needs of employees, rather than force them to conform to the space, ushers in more prospects for space utilization. Better utilization over a variety of desking concepts makes these agile workspaces more cost-effective.

Use software to maximize facilities

For a data-driven, quantitative approach to cost reduction, look no further than facility management software. Software allows facilities managers to manage space within the context of need, which goes hand-in-hand with the adoption of free assign and flex workspaces. Use software to gauge metrics like occupancy rate and utilization in the context of cost per head and the new cost of square footage. Then, use these insights to power more cost-effective decisions about how to use and manage space.

Software is also the foundation for cost-saving initiatives related to facilities upkeep. Create recurring tasks for space sanitization. Set up support ticketing to keep workspaces tended and functional. Use daily, weekly, and monthly reports to recognize and address hidden costs. Software illuminates cost reduction opportunities in workplaces emphasizing bottom-line savings during the pandemic.

Create a frictionless experience

Think about every workspace as an incubator for work. The more conducive it is to employees and their needs, the better the ROI. This is why a frictionless workplace experience is so important. The quicker you can get your employees to settle and back to work, the better their productivity is and the higher the ROI of that specific space.

Manage every workspace as an individual incubator and identify obstacles and points of friction that may grate on employees. This is where hoteling comes in handy, as well as wayfinding software that includes real-time occupancy updates. Facilities managers need to flex employees into spaces, accommodate their needs, provide sanitization services, and turn around a workspace fluidly. Address points of friction to generate cost savings via better space management.

Plan long-term, for the new norm

Facilities costs aren’t tied to COVID-19. In fact, there are strong indicators commercial real estate (CRE) is entering an expensive period, which means more companies will need to look at space from a cost standpoint. As they do, the question becomes, “are we justifying the cost of our space?” The answer lies in how well it’s optimized.

Free assign and flex spaces will define the future of workplace management, while hoteling and agile teams set the tone in facilities. Companies that master these concepts today will succeed in the future, as CRE trends blossom and space becomes even more expensive. Reducing facilities management costs today means more opportunities to capitalize on space in the future.

Keep reading: How to choose the best facility management software

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Why Would a Facility Want to Hire a Facility Management Company?

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

Every company wants to save money. Bottom line savings can be elusive, which makes it important to spend consciously and save wherever possible. So why would a company want to hire a facility management company and spend the (sometimes) significant costs associated with facilities upkeep? For one simple reason: because the cost of not maintaining facilities is even greater.

The workplace touches every part of business. Leaving facilities to languish or under-maintaining them generates costs that companies can’t always anticipate—most of them avoidable. A facility management company puts the many priorities of facilities first, so they come together in the ways employees need them to.

Why do we need facility management?

Think of the workplace like a second home for your employees—largely because it is. Most full-time employees spend a minimum of 40 hours a week at work (often more). And while we’re living in a new work-from-home era, the workplace is still most people’s “second place.” Facility management keeps employees’ home-away-from home neat and tidy, while ensuring it meets their needs and expectations for work.

Imagine asking employees to do their best work at a dingy desk that has an overflowing trash can beside it, or asking a 10-person team to cram into a four-person workspace and collaborate comfortably. It’s not reasonable! It’s the duty of every company to provide a workplace that’s clean, comfortable, accommodating, and safe.

Why outsource facilities management?

Not every company has the means to provide an encompassing level of facilities management in-house. The decision to outsource to facilities management companies depends on a lot of factors, including cost, talent availability, technology, or size of facilities, to name a few. They might not have on-staff craftspeople or facility management software—or, the cost of investing in these resources might not make sense.

The other major reason to outsource facilities management is for sheer convenience. Facilities require a lot of oversight. The ability to delegate most or all of this oversight to a company whose sole focus is to deliver a superior standard of service often makes sense. The less a company has to focus on facilities, the more attention it can devote to other mission-critical efforts.

Software offers an intermediate opportunity

For companies that don’t necessarily want to invest fully in a management company or keep everything in-house, facility management software is a great compromise. There are opportunities within different applications to streamline in-house, low-level management and upkeep for facilities, as well as tools that help manage contracts and service-level agreements (SLAs) with vendors and management companies.

For example, a support ticket system can route everyday employee requests to in-house staff for quick attention and resolution—refilling towels in the bathroom, replacing light bulbs, fixing a broken door, and the like. Conversely, enterprise asset management (EAM) software is useful for recordkeeping when it comes to vital building systems, and allows in-house staff to outsource work to a service provider with timeliness and specificity (we need X performed by Y date).

Software itself is an investment, but one that generates strong ROI when leveraged into a broad facility management plan.

Consider integrated facility management

One of the best reasons to work with a facilities management company is to create an integrated facilities management approach. Integrated facilities management is the practice of consolidating services and costs into a single umbrella provider (or as few as possible). It’s a method of simplifying facility management so there are fewer SLAs, more consistent terms, and a well-established partnership with defined expectations.

Integrated facilities management is popular among companies that want to outsource as much as possible to a facility management company. It’s a form of automation, with the expectation that the chosen facilities partner will tackle everything: from proactive maintenance to reactive repairs, as well as budgeting, capital planning, and reporting of core facilities metrics.

Make the investment in facilities

While bottom line savings and cost-conservation are important initiatives for a company, so are strategic investments. Few investments offer a broader return than an investment in facilities and a partner to help maintain and manage them. Even companies with a facilities manager and craftspeople on-staff need to consider the benefits of working with a partner to emphasize total facilities management.

As we enter a pivotal time for commercial real estate and space management, facilities upkeep is only becoming more important. Delegating upkeep or leaning on a service partner to maximize facilities is a smart investment for the present and future.

Keep reading: Quick Facility Management Guide for Beginners

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What is Facilities Management Support Services?

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

Facilities are complex, comprising many moving parts and pieces. There are structural systems like HVAC, plumbing, and electricity, as well as systems such as access control and emergency alerting. Landscaping and exterior upkeep are important, as are janitorial and interior workplace management. All these aspects and more add up to the cumulative concept of facilities. It’s impossible for any one single person to oversee it all, which facilitates the need for facilities management support services.

What is facilities management support services? In short, they’re the many individuals, teams, and service partners responsible for delivering FM support services. Without the ability to delegate, facilities wouldn’t function and facilities managers wouldn’t be able to provide employees, visitors, and stakeholders with a superior workplace experience.

Delegating is key to keep facilities running

Facilities tasks span daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual schedules. Each aspect of facilities has hundreds (possibly thousands) of individual tasks. The only way to stay on-schedule and ensure proper upkeep of facilities is to delegate.

Delegating not only ensures tasks get done, but that they’re done by qualified personnel in a timely manner, with proper recordkeeping. To delegate appropriately takes a wide range of support service outlets. It doesn’t make sense to call an electrician to replace a lightbulb, just like it’s impossible for a janitorial staff member to install a new rooftop HVAC unit. Proper delegation sends the right task to the right person, at the right time.

Get familiar with support service providers

Facilities support services span many avenues and require a wealth of knowledge, experience, skills, and equipment to satisfy. Here’s a look at some of the broad-ranging service providers who may have a hand in facilities upkeep at the direction of a facilities manager:

  • In-house staff: These are individuals on-staff, generally tasked with routine, low-level maintenance. Staff may include special craftspeople if operations demand it.
  • Janitorial services: Janitorial staff take care of routine cleaning and sanitization, to keep facilities clean and employees in good health on a day-to-day basis.
  • Grounds maintenance and landscaping: Groundskeeping staff oversee campus maintenance and upkeep of all exterior foliage and hardscaping.
  • Private security services: This may include on-site security guards, cybersecurity firms, campus security, and access control experts tasked with employee safety.
  • Waste management services: Waste management considers routine disposal and haulage needs, dependent on the waste generated by facilities.
  • Seasonal service providers: These professionals may include everything from seasonal landscapers to energy efficiency experts who tend to season-specific building needs.
  • Tradespeople and craftspeople: Plumbers, HVAC techs, carpenters, electricians, and other tradespeople define this essential group of support service partners.

There’s an even broader scope of support service partners out there, dependent on the needs of each company or building type. Examples include testing and inspections experts for environmental health and safety initiatives, and even legal and administrative partners to advise on special aspects of building upkeep and maintenance.

Not every facility manager will need a complete scope of support personnel, and not every company needs support in the same capacity. It’s up to facilities managers to identify the needs of the building(s) they manage and staff to meet them.

Software is essential for facilities management

How do managers coordinate all these tasks between such a wide breadth of support personnel? To do it effectively, they rely on facilities management software. Features like support ticketing can route requests for facilities upkeep to the right support team, while digital twins and enterprise asset management (EAM) software keep the most important aspects of building maintenance top-of-mind at all times. There’s also reporting and benchmarking to consider, which help determine the total cost of building ownership.

Software joins the many layers of facilities management to the many outlets that accomplish essential maintenance tasks. By automating, facility managers can delegate quickly and with precision, leaving them available to focus on high-level aspects of their job—like planning for the next capital improvement or recognizing opportunities for an integrated facilities management approach.

Facilities are growing more complex

Not listed above, but growing more prominent by the year, are support services surrounding intelligent buildings. The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) is creating demand for tech-savvy service professionals to maintain digital systems. It’s yet another reason to invest in FM software and embrace emerging concepts like integrated facilities management.

There’s an old saying that “It takes a village to raise a child.” The same could be said for facilities upkeep. No single person can keep facilities operating smoothly—only the combined efforts of facilities managers and a broad, diverse range of support service providers.

Keep reading: Why is Facility Management Important for Productivity?

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11 Benefits of Flexible Seating

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

The concept of free addressing is booming in workplaces, driven by the benefits of flexible seating. Companies are discovering that, given the chance to choose their own seat and work autonomously, employees respond positively. They get more done, work more efficiently, and collaborate better with peers. The benefits don’t end there, either. There are bottom-line benefits to flexible seating, as well as positives for the workplace environment.

Is flexible seating good? While it depends on the structure of your free addressing system, it’s hard to ignore the many benefits associated with the rise of flex spaces and agile workplaces. Here’s a look at 11 benefits that accompany flexible seating and why they’re worth reconsidering your current floor plan in favor of free addressing.

  1. Space optimization. It’s vital for companies to maximize their real estate ROI, especially during COVID-19 and limited occupancy guidelines. Flexible seating turns static desking into dynamic workspaces, to encourage better use of available space. More important, flexible seating allows a single space to serve multiple purposes, for even better accommodation of employees and tasks.
  2. Social distancing. With flexibility comes distance. Employees can transition between spaces as-needed, without impeding the personal space of their coworkers or over-occupying a particular workspace. There are also opportunities to rebalance capacity across the workplace as employees come and go from individual workspaces.
  3. Change of scenery. Monotony is a killer of productivity. Allowing employees to choose their desking arrangement for the day gives them the ability to break the monotony that can come from the same seating assignment day after day. A new view might inspire a new mood that promotes positivity, which channels into better morale and productivity.
  4. Workplace agility. Flex spaces correlate with agility and adaptability, which are vital in today’s fast-paced workplaces. Flexible seating allows the physical workplace to keep pace with employee demands in real-time, whether they need a specific type of workstation or multiple workers need to relocate in short order.
  5. Power of choice. The simple act of allowing employees to choose their own seat or workstation is empowering and shows trust. Employees appreciate the ability to self-govern, and the power of choice gives them this control at a fundamental level. It’s a simple way to empower productivity.
  6. Enhance comfort. Rather than taking them out of their element, the ability to choose where and how they work is enough to ease many employees into their comfort zone. When they’re not forced to adapt to a specific work style, they’ll gravitate to the one that works best for them. The results are beneficial for employees and employers alike.
  7. Improve collaboration. Social work environments become more pronounced in a free assigned concept. Whether they enjoy the camaraderie or need to collaborate on a project, employees more freely sync up when there’s nothing tethering them to a specific desk or seating area.
  8. Foster teams. Alongside a greater sense of togetherness, teams are more productive in collaborative environments of their own design. Flexible seating allows groups to adapt to the demands of their work in real time, which improves every team member’s ability to contribute in a meaningful way.
  9. Reduce costs. Whether by shrinking the total size of the workplace or by improving the utility of existing real estate, there are bottom-line cost reductions to consider in flexible seating. Cost-conscious companies should evaluate new workplace occupancy limits, as well as the demands of their workforce, to see if there are cost-shrinking opportunities associated with a free assign or agile concept.
  10. Spatial benefits. Does your office feel cramped? Though we’re (hopefully) removed from cubicle farms and other close-quarters workplace designs, traditional desking can still feel clunky and cumbersome. Flexible environments need to remain agile, which equates to minimalistic, streamlined design that brings a certain breathability to workplaces.
  11. Boost autonomy. When they’re not anchored to a desk, employees more freely navigate the whole of the workplace. This not only leads to better utilization of all facility amenities, but also a better understanding of how to operate within the workplace. This autonomy translates into a more confident and productive workforce—individuals in their element.

These benefits and others like them are only attainable when you’re committed to a free addressing strategy. A half-hearted attempt isn’t going to cut it. From hot desks to agile workspaces, hoteling to benching, ask yourself: what does flexible seating mean to you? Identify the free addressing concepts that work with your workflows, implement them, and take advantage of the many benefits of flexible seating.

Keep reading: 10 Traits of Distributed Agile Teams