School’s In – For Educational Facility Improvements

By Danielle Moore
Director, Archibus Marketing

The pivot to distance learning during COVID-19 has left many schools empty. For some students, it’s been over a year since they’ve seen the inside of a classroom. Since the onset of the pandemic, educational institutions of all types have been looking for ways to safely restart classes.

But those silent halls and rooms are not being ignored. Educational facilities managers are taking advantage of vacant buildings to perform routine upkeep and make structural, system, and aesthetic improvements. A powerful integrated workplace management system (IWMS) can help organize, schedule, and manage these projects start to finish.

Most educational facilities wait until the summer months to begin construction, renovation, and maintenance projects. Improvements and upkeep projects can be complex and difficult to manage while class is in session. With distance learning, facilities managers are finding plenty of opportunities to get jobs done outside the typical eight- or nine-week summertime window.

COVID-19 fuels introspection

School administrators are looking within to prioritize projects, specifically health and wellness improvements. HVAC system upgrades are top of mind for many. The forced air infrastructure in schools works overtime to deliver clean air to classrooms, study areas, cafeterias, gyms, and offices. Unfortunately, HVAC is likely one of the most under-maintained, antiquated systems in a school. According to a recent study by Lawrence Berkeley and UC Davis, only ~15% of classrooms in California meet the state’s ventilation standards for schools. Empty school rooms mean facilities managers can orchestrate much-needed updates and maintenance.

There’s also the future to consider. COVID-19 has forever marked how education is delivered. We’ll likely see ongoing sanitization standards and public health measures to help keep schools open if another crisis hits.

Now is the perfect time for schools to install hand sanitation and washing stations, realign floor layouts to accommodate social distancing, when needed, and create new facility protocols that foster health and safety for students and staff. That also can mean creating new strategies for teaching and how they affect the physical learning environment.

Highlight referendum projects 

School closings are a prime opportunity for referendum projects. These plans—which have already been funded by taxpayers—are generally large and protracted. They can be disruptive to students when noisy construction work spills over into the school year.

Vacant buildings mean facilities managers can make vast headway-or even complete-bigger buildouts before classes resume. These projects can include everything from gymnasium and auditorium renovations to new campus buildings or the decommissioning of shuttered facilities. Even sport complex and parking lot improvements are more feasible.

Referendum projects across the country are gaining support as distance learning drags on. The Madison County School District in Wisconsin saw more than $350 million approved for school infrastructure in 2020 during the peak of the pandemic. It was not alone. Districts in TexasCaliforniaIllinois, and dozens of other states passed coronavirus-fueled school construction and renovation projects ranging from tens to hundreds of millions of dollars. The bane of distance learning quickly rolled into opportunities for school improvements.

Small improvements matter, too

Those big, taxpayer-funded projects are just a beginning. Now is a perfect time to tackle the backlog of support requests from educators, administrators, and students. When classes are in session, many  repair-or-replace projects are backburnered. It’s not easy to resurface the gym floor when basketball games are scheduled. Nor is repaving the parking lots when spots are filled with student and staff vehicles.

With space to work, facilities managers can divide and conquer to empty the support ticket queue. No cars in the parking lots makes repaving a breeze. Canceled sporting events means a fresh coat of lacquer for the gym floor can dry and cure. Though small in scope, resolving support ticket requests will make a huge difference to teachers and students when classes resume.

The silver lining of distance learning

School facility projects accomplished during COVID-19 come with a greater sense of purpose. Instead of a race against the clock to complete projects before students return to class, administrators can focus on coordinating projects from a value standpoint. It means looking at improvements and maintenance from a long-term benefits perspective, as opposed to strictly a cost-benefit or time-sensitive approach. It’s not “Which projects will be less disruptive to students?”; it’s “Which projects will deliver the most benefits?”

This opportunity for improvement to school facilities spans every type of institution—from K-8 to high school to college campuses and even satellite learning centers. When the bell rings and students come back to class after the long hiatus, they’ll find themselves in a learning environment that makes that return seamless. It may not be the school they left, but it’ll be one they can learn to love.

Keep reading: Facilities Management Software for Schools


Hybrid Workplaces are the Future of Work

8 Apps for Remote Workers Productivity and SuccessBy Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

More people than ever before are working remotely. But not everyone is logging in from a home office. Some people still prefer the structure of a physical workplace, and will gladly get up and go to one each day. The result of this duality is a hybrid workplace: one that supports both remote and on-site employees. It’s a concept that pre-dated COVID-19, but came to fruition largely because of it. Now, hybrid workplaces are here to stay.

Forced to make it work during the pandemic, companies and their employees have begun to get their bearings and figure things out. Patchwork fixes, stopgaps, and workarounds have congealed into new processes and permanent solutions that allow remote workers to be as productive as their in-office counterparts. Better still, the adoption of a hybrid work model has given time for distributed teams to learn to work together.

Hybrid workplaces are still in flux, but they’re becoming a much more permanent reality. What’s certain is their staying power. Now that people can work the way that is best for them, there’s no going back.

What is the hybrid workplace?

A hybrid office supports both in-house and remote employees at the same time, and offers flexibility for ebb and flow between these two work styles. It’s a concept that encompasses both physical and digital workspaces, as well.

The goal of the hybrid workplace is to support every work style and every employee—especially when these variables are inconsistent. Can Sanjay work effectively in-house today and continue his work tomorrow from home? If Marsha usually works from home and needs to come back in-house for a week, will she find the work environment she needs? These questions—and dozens more like them—are what facility managers ask as they plan for the new norm of flex work.

Hybrid workplaces can take many forms and feature many systems of governance. Hoteling is the most popular because it offers checks and balances companies can use to manage their workers, yet still offers employees optionality. Other hybrid examples include hot desks, desk neighborhoods, flex spaces, and more. No matter how it’s comprised, the hybrid workspace is one that’s wholly supportive of every employee’s work style.

Why are hybrid workspaces quickly becoming the new norm for companies big and small? It’s because there are benefits for employees and businesses alike.

How does the hybrid office affect employees?

For employees, the hybrid office offers a seamless experience that’s conducive to flex work styles. In-house or remote, single work or group work, no matter the variables, the hybrid office delivers.

  • Employees have the option to choose their workspace or desk type
  • Freedom of movement in the office makes transitioning between tasks easier
  • Mobility makes it easier for employees to work independent or as a group
  • More autonomy for employees can result in better work habits and practices
  • Employees feel empowered to make decisions about how or when they work
  • The transition between in-office and at-home work is more fluid and simpler

The bottom line on hybrid office benefits for employees is more freedom and the ability to work comfortably. Whether they work at home, in-office, or split their time, they’ll have the support they need to do their best work at all times.

How does the hybrid work model affect businesses?

On the business side, a hybrid work model offers an abundance of cost-saving benefits, as well as management opportunities that improve workspace utilization. Some of the core benefits of a well-run hybrid workplace include:

  • Better space utilization and reclamation of unused space from traditional desking
  • More productive workforce that feels supported and trusted in their work style
  • Improved workplace safety during times of disruption (illness, renovations, etc.)
  • Fewer disruptions to work caused by an inflexible workplace concept
  • Saved costs associated with less strain on or demand for unnecessary facilities
  • Opportunities to cultivate a more modern, inclusive culture and workforce

The practical benefits of hybrid workplaces for businesses become evident in gains to productivity, the bottom line, and the company culture. Less rigidity in the business model opens the door for more flexible avenues of growth.

Hybrid workplaces will continue to evolve

We haven’t figured out hybrid workplaces completely yet, but we’re further along than we were at the outset of the pandemic. As new processes connect remote workers to on-site staff, the hybrid workplace will continue to evolve. Hybrid workplaces offer plenty of opportunity for adaptation, which is a boon to businesses and employees alike. Embracing a hybrid concept may well be what enables businesses to remain nimble in the face of future hardship or—perish the thought—another pandemic.

Keep reading: 8 Apps for Remote Workers Productivity and Success


Six Workplace Portal Functions That Are Essential in the Era of Flex Work

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

Called the “workplace intranet” in a past technological era, the concept of a workplace portal has been around as long as workplace computers. Today, many companies still host intranet sites and work portals, and for good reason. They’re highly useful means for bringing together employee resources in a single destination.   

Like all things that involve workplace tech, the employee portal has evolved with time. Namely, it’s evolved on the heels of better integrations and business clouds, which have given portals much more than simple hyperlink and static text capabilities. The modern capabilities of a work portal demand businesses take a second look at theirs, to make sure it delivers real utility to employees.  

What is a work portal?

A work portal is a hosted repository for information and resources that’s accessible only to employees on the business’ network. It features oft-used resources that might include: 

  • Payroll information and time-off request forms
  • Access to the company directory or site map
  • An announcement board for company-wide information
  • Submission forms for IT requests or equipment check-out

Anything employees routinely need access to is best put in a portal. It’s something employees can get familiar with as soon as they start with the company and something they’ll likely interact with every day in some capacity.  

Now, as facilities become more complex and flex work entrenches itself as a mode of operation, companies have found new utility from their work portals. Here’s a look at six portal functions that can and should become standard in companies with evolving workplaces.  

1. Support ticketing and requests

The more sophisticated workplaces become, the quicker maintenance and repairs need to occur. For example, if the motion sensor for the lights in the lobby stops working, visitors could find themselves greeted by darkness. Getting problems like these fixed needs to be as easy as submitting an urgent ticket to maintenance through the work portal.  

Non-urgent requests should be just as simple. Need to take out an AV cart? Want to request an extra recycling bin for your department? The work portal is the place to make these requests a one-minute, no hassle task.  

2. Space reservation and seat booking

For companies that explore hoteling and other reservation-based seating arrangements, the work portal is an ideal place to encourage scheduling. While an ideal reservation system will have multiple methods of seat booking (Slack, email, dashboard, etc.), the employee portal should be the most accessible and robust. Employees already in the habit of checking the portal daily will quickly attune themselves to desk booking through this channel. It’s a great way to get employees on board with a reservation system. 

3. Real-time updates and announcements

In the era of COVID-19 (and beyond), company-wide announcements are important. Employees deserve to be kept apprised of everything from scheduling changes to new company policies. While memos and email announcements are still standard, scrolling them in a portal or posting them on a company bulletin board is still a great reminder. Moreover, executives can control who sees what message by targeting different departments via their login credentials. With an employee portal, vital announcements are front-and-center every day.  

4. Employee directory access

The employee directory has become a critical tool with the rise of remote work and flex work. Without static desks or schedules, employees may have difficulty finding each other at any given time. And while the company directory has long been a part of many employee portals, new integrations have made it more robust and useful.  

Companies can tie directory information to wayfinding and the desk booking system, to show employees where someone is at any given time and how to get there. They can also tie in apps like Slack or Calendly, so that clicking on a person gives you their messaging information or access to their calendar. There are limitless integrations, amounting to infinite possibilities for how useful an in-portal employee directory can be.  

5. Wayfinding features and integrations

Like the employee directory, a company’s wayfinding system is highly useful as part of the employee portal. As employees use more of the workplace, they need to feel comfortable navigating it. Access to wayfinding tools through a portal they’re already used to using can make them more amiable to using the workplace in new and effective ways. And, as mentioned, wayfinding features are a great tie-in with a newer, more robust employee directory. 

6. Facility information

Simple additions to the workplace portal can be some of the best—especially when they concern facilities. Companies are wise to build out a section for facility information that includes information such as cleaning schedules, a common contacts list, asset locations, and anything else important or specific to the workplace. When employees have questions, this should be the first place they look—and the last place they need to look.  

The beauty of a work portal is that it’s a single, simple point of action for employees—one that empowers them to interact with the workplace in a meaningful way. With the correct integrations and a little organization, a workplace portal can become something employees use every day, to great benefit.  

Keep reading: What is Employee Experience?


Ratio Seating: Everything You Need to Know to Make it Work

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

“Company X has 150 employees and 100 workspaces: 70 single-occupancy, 15 multi-person, and 15 undesignated spaces. What is the ratio of employees to workspaces on a space-specific level?” No this isn’t a question from the SATs, it’s a peek behind the curtain of ratio seating: one of the emerging methods for allocation and management of desks in a flex work environment. There’s plenty of math involved, but the potential upside for space-conscious companies is worth the pain of scribbling fractions in a notebook.

The good news is that most Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) offer ratio seating tools that automate the math. All that’s left for facility managers to do is make sure their approach is one that is beneficial to both the business and its employees.

What is ratio-based seating?

Ratio-based seating is the product of flex work concepts like hoteling and hot desking. At its core, it’s the practice of organizing and allocating workspaces in such a way as to support fewer total seats than there are employees. Ratio-based seating allows companies to operate at a seating “deficit” through strategic allocation.

For example, a company with a new flex work policy might have 40 total employees—but not all of them will work in-house at the same time. The company doesn’t need 40 desks. Instead, it might operate 20 desks with the expectation that roughly half its workforce will work remote at any given time. That’s space (and cost) saved on a daily basis.

Ratio seating isn’t only about eliminating desks—it’s about running a desk deficit in a way that doesn’t hinder work habits or reduce productivity.

What types of offices benefit from ratio seating?

The shift to flex work and distributed teams has made ratio-based seating much more practical. If companies can predict the percentages of their workforce that will or won’t need a seat on a given day, facility managers can orchestrate several efficient desking concepts:

  • Hotel desks give employees the power to reserve their seating as-needed, on-demand
  • Hot desks enable free-flowing movement in a workplace with diverse desk types
  • Office neighborhoods offer opportunities for collaboration without assigned seats
  • Breakout spaces provide employees an as-needed, quick-use solution to space

Really, any unspecified seating solution becomes a reality in a ratio seating concept. Without assigned seats—and with the freedom to work where and how they want—employees don’t need the surety of a “home base.” That means fewer desks for more people who are always on-the-go.

How to calculate employee-to-seat ratio

There are different schools of thought for calculating the employee-to-seat ratio for the ideal desking deficit.

The best way is to use trend pattern data over time to calculate minimum and maximum occupancy. Monitor the percentage of total desk occupancy for three months, record occupancy levels per day, and put them on a heat map. Eliminate outliers and find the mean. This can offer a starting point to determine how many desks your workplace needs objectively at any given time. Institute a hoteling policy or desk reservation system to account for these spaces, and monitor continued utilization to adjust for real use.

Another concept is to assign employees to groups with values and calculate employee-to-desk ratio using the sum of the values of employees.

  • 1 for full-time in-house employees
  • 5 for those who split time remote/in-house
  • 25 for those who are full-time remote

This type of model accounts for those who need a desk every day, as well as those who may come in or who may get called in for an all-hands situation. It’s often calculated at the department level, since different group work habits vary depending on job type. Marketing might end up with a 10:4 person-to-desk ratio, while Accounting has a 12:10 person-to-desk ratio.

The employee-to-seat ratio is both a numbers game and a balancing act. It’s wise for facility managers to start with a ratio and build in buffers, then continue to observe and adjust over time. Remember that different factors can bring employees into the workplace or keep them remote. A severe snowstorm might leave you with only 10% occupancy one day, while an all-hands meeting puts you at 90% occupancy another day. Monitor and adjust as-needed.

Important ratio seating considerations

There are a few simple considerations facility managers need to keep top-of-mind while they calculate and implement a ratio seating strategy:

  • Ratios aren’t perfect and it’s best to plan contingencies for overflow seating
  • Seats and workspace types are two different variables; treat them as such
  • Create seating ratios for every level: department, floor, and building
  • Make seat utilization reporting metrics central to workplace management
  • Seek to understand outliers and their effect on ideal seating ratios
  • Account for seating ratio as the company hires or changes work policies

Enjoy a balanced desking concept

Ratio seating offers a calculated, measured approach to maximize space occupancy. Done right, it creates a hassle-free flex-seating arrangement for employees and an occupancy standard that facility managers can adjust as-needed. It’s a calculated solution where a 1:1 desking ratio may no longer be possible or practical. Expect to see more opportunities for ratio seating in our post-pandemic working world.

Keep reading: 6 Variables of Office Seating Plan Software


What is Space Governance in the Workplace?

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Room 202 will be a conference space. It’s closed for cleaning from noon to 1 p.m., then open as a quiet workspace until 5 p.m., with space for three employees with Level II access or above. On paper, this might look like a schedule of workspace availability. In the broader sense, it’s a great illustration of space governance.

Space governance is the act of identifying and managing distinct areas within the workplace to ensure they meet the needs of employees. Most facilities managers engage in this practice regularly, but being cognizant of what you’re doing can inform you on how to do it better. That means creating purposeful spaces and managing them accordingly.

Define and understand your spaces

It’s important to look at your workplace on a scale. You can look at a stack plan and see how many total seats you have across the building, floor, or department; or, you can look at the specific location and dimensions of a space to determine the best uses for it. This gives every identified space full context within facilities and paves the way for space management.

What is space management? Different from space governance, space management involves overseeing the activities that happen within that space. Is it a conference room? Quiet workplace? Hoteling station? Space management dictates the space’s purpose; space governance dictates how it’s used. For example:

  • Space management is what determines Room 202 is a conference room
  • Space governance is the act of restricting access to Room 202 to Level III employees

This distinction becomes more and more important as workplaces become more dynamic. Like in the example above, when a space serves many purposes, the need for more robust space governance becomes essential. Good governance depends on asking a few important questions.  

Who needs space and what do they need it for?

Space management and space governance start with identifying need. It’s impossible to find utility in a space without knowing who will use it and what they’ll use it for. Understanding need is the first part of strategic workspace planning. There are several ways to gauge this need. 

From a quantifiable standpoint, facilities managers can look at workplace data to determine which types of workspaces see the most use, by whom, when, and for how long. This provides irrefutable evidence into specific types of workspace demand. The other (less scientific) way of realizing demand for space is to poll employees to learn what their preferences are for certain workspaces. 

Imbue the space with purpose and utility

With demand at the forefront of decision-making, companies can engage is space management activities to better-define the purpose of areas in the workplace. This means specifically designating certain spaces for certain activities, with mind for where they’re located and who will use them. This is also where space management and space governance need to intersect. 

Look at the total potential for a space. Recognize the many different opportunities the space offers; then, use space governance to dictate how to make the most of its potential. How often will the application of that space change? Who has access? How will you govern it to ensure maximum utilization? The strategy for space governance needs to align with the strategy for space management. Execution needs to match purpose. 

Rely on software to actively govern spaces

The secret to effective space governance in today’s agile workplaces is software infrastructure for managing it. Space planning software offers options for both management and governance—for example, the ability to designate a hotel desk, then manage bookings for it. Without a software system that’s as agile as the workplace itself, it becomes difficult to govern spaces in a capacity that makes them accessible. 

  • Designate hotel desks and manage hotel bookings
  • Govern the changeover from one space type to another
  • Restrict access to certain spaces through access control
  • Link wayfinding software to space governance controls
  • Create automations that facilitate seamless space utilization

Software offers so many points of support for agile space governance—from support ticketing to keep spaces viable, to on/off availability for space reservations. 

Remember that spaces are dynamic

Space governance used to be about simpler concepts. Now, it’s about managing multiple variables that are always in flux, to provide a space that employees need, when they need it. A workspace might go through multiple transitions in a day, and change its identity with each interaction. It’s up to facility managers to marry traditional space management concepts with new-age space governance techniques, to facilitate a workplace that’s as dynamic as employees need it to be.

Keep reading: Space Planning Software Buyers and Info Guide  


Real Estate Asset Management Certification

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist

Professionals handling corporate real estate need proof of concept—something that shows they understand the nuances of managing property at the enterprise level. Alongside experience and formal education, real estate asset management certification is a major indicator of competency and capability when it comes to overseeing real property. 

No matter the path they take to get there, certification is an important indicator in the abilities of a real estate asset manager. It’s also a sound investment for companies, with the expectation that certified real estate asset managers will affect change that improves the ROI of property. 

What is real estate asset management?

Real estate asset management involves treating corporate real estate as an asset—something that adds value to the balance sheet or benefit’s the company’s operations. Instead of looking at the needs of facilities, it looks at how facilities contribute to the success of the company through a fiscal lens. In many ways, real estate asset management bisects property management and financial focuses, which makes it important to staff a professional who can liaise between these core focuses. 

Looking at real estate as an asset means managing it like an asset. To do this, a real estate asset manager needs to focus on three key areas of asset optimization:

  • Revenue generation.
  • Risk mitigation
  • Cost or loss savings

Within these three areas of focus is a world of opportunities and possibilities. Real estate asset management certification courses are where professionals learn to identify and capitalize on them. They learn the skills to approach real estate asset management from both property and finance standpoints, to make decisions that benefit both. 

Real estate asset management courses

While some universities and higher learning institutions offer classes devoted to real estate asset management, they’re often lacking. They often provide great fundamentals for finance and real estate as an asset, but they gloss over the nuances of what a career in real estate asset management actually entails. The rare real estate asset management course may cover these duties in depth, but a class is far short of a curriculum.

Certificate programs exist to provide that missing curriculum. These programs drill down into specifics and cover not just fundamentals, but current standards, practices, trends, and philosophies. And, because they’re consolidated into several weeks or months, they’re an agile learning opportunity for a niche role in real estate management. 

Where to get certified

Certification is best-earned from industry organizations or reputable secondary education institutions. There are several organizations devoted to real estate asset management and peripheral areas of focus, and each offers some form of certification consistent with industry best practices:

Professionals with one or more of these certifications are ready to step into an asset management role and govern facilities from a cost-benefit and revenue-generation standpoint. Best of all, certification programs like these frequently add extensions, modules, and refreshers to keep industry best practices current. 

Real estate asset management online training

The beauty of most real estate asset management certification programs is that they’re completed online, at the pace of the person taking them. This makes certification a great opportunity for business professionals near to real estate asset management, or those who want to pursue it. In many cases, these courses are a good ongoing education investment for companies to make in their employees, and may manifest in direct ROI from well-managed real estate assets. 

The benefits of certification are clear

Certification doesn’t just show core competency on the part of a real estate asset manager—it also helps them do their job better. Specialized programs and training courses devoted to asset management give property professionals unique insights not learned on any traditional career track. It goes beyond understanding real estate as an asset; it’s about understanding real estate as an asset to the business and its mission. Certification connects the dots in a way that manifests in a stronger, more cohesive real estate management strategy. 

Keep reading: Ins and Outs of Facility Management Certification


Six Reasons to Use Real Estate Asset Management Software

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

The question on every corporate executive’s mind is whether to downsize, scale back, or consolidate the company’s real estate portfolio. This is especially important in a post-coronavirus world as the workplace undergoes yet another change. As real estate managers forecast the future, they need quantifiable data about facilities. Real estate asset management software can provide this data and the insights that contextualize it. 

Here’s a look at six of the most important reasons real estate managers need asset management software and the benefits it provides. 

1. 1,000-foot view of properties

Asset managers need to understand each property from a cost-benefit standpoint. That means looking from the top down, to see the factors that make up both sides of this equation. It’s easy to look at fixed costs on a balance sheet—asset management software provides additional insights that contextualize those larger figures. 

A broad view of facility costs and revenue becomes particularly handy for higher-level decision-making about property-specific changes. What’s the current cost per square foot vs. occupancy vs. revenue? How do maintenance costs factor into total cost of ownership? The answers to these questions and dozens of others provide broad context for facilities, which lends credence to them as assets. 

2. Quantifiable financial metrics

In the scope of portfolio decision-making, what does a real estate asset manager do? In simplest terms, they provide quantifiable insights for executives and other stakeholders. That means delivering real estate data and information in the form of key company success metrics. These insights aren’t always easy to come by, which is what makes real estate asset management software so vital.

With the proper infrastructure, asset management reporting software will deliver core company metrics available at a glance. This can include the cost of the lease and annual maintenance, month-over-month spend on facilities, revenue performance by location, and much more. These are the figures decision-makers want to see as they contemplate the future of facilities. 

3. Asset-based insights

It’s easy to delineate the many functions of a property. A real estate asset manager faces the task of quantifying these functions and understanding them in the context of an asset. Asset-based insights are what C-suite executives and portfolio managers want as they make decisions about the direction of a company. Asset-based insights and their contribution to financial metrics are what aid in that decision-making. 

Each asset-based insight creates an opportunity for asset optimization. Can you cut costs here? Realize new revenue opportunities there? Defining the various monetary contributors to real property’s place on the balance sheet unlocks the potential to modify them. 

4. Forecasting, simplified

Real estate asset management software might tell you that a facility is operating far above capacity and generating less profit than a comparable property. Or, it might show that the maintenance costs of an old building make it a drag on the balance sheet. In these situations, available data promotes better forecasting. It’s about using the data you have now to make ROI-driven decisions about real estate for the future. 

Forecasting using real estate asset management software can aid in everything from budgeting to asset planning. If companies can see the role of their facilities far into the future, they’re more equipped to make confident decisions about them in the present. 

5. Contextualize workforce distribution

Asset management isn’t only about managing the asset itself—it also involves who (or what) interacts with it. In the case of corporate real estate as an asset, that means looking at workforce distribution. Real estate software readily provides this data, including data for capacity, occupation, cost per head, and other workforce-specific costs and figures. 

As companies manage assets, they need to do so with the workforce in mind. After all, the core purpose of facilities is to support the people working within them. Treating real estate like an asset means considering ROI from a workforce standpoint, which means contextualizing the workforce across real estate holdings. 

6. Generate reports, shareable insights

What is real estate asset management without contextual reports? Just like a securities manager might look at a candlestick chart before acting on a position, asset managers need to compile, organize, and contextualize data. This is a herculean effort without real estate asset management software. Thanks to machine learning and automation, most modern software is smart enough to aggregate and deliver the insights most important to managers—including cross-examining cost data with non-financial metrics. 

Rely on the convenience of software insights

These benefits all add up to something invaluable: asset-based insights about real estate. Looking at real estate through an asset evaluation lens can provide crucial insight for portfolio managers, executives, and other stakeholders as they determine the right path forward for their real estate holdings and facilities. The simplest way to get these insights? Real estate asset management software.

Keep reading: How Agile is Your Real Estate?


Workplace Data Management Best Practices

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist

The age of smart buildings is creating a data boom for facilities managers. Now, there’s more data available than many companies know what to do with, and the single biggest hurdle in understanding that data is getting a handle on it. Workplace data management is quickly becoming paramount, and it presents a new challenge for companies. How, exactly, do they coordinate and manage data at-scale?

Identify and define data sources

The first and most essential step in managing data is identifying it. This means looking at all the IoT devices active within the workplace, as well as other smart building components that generate data. Next comes employee input data—things like support tickets, room reservations, and log data. Don’t forget about integrated software, either. This task in and of itself can be cumbersome, but it’s necessary to identify data before you can use it. 

Consider tracing vital business operations backward. Where do you get the data to do X, Y, and Z? Identify the primary sources responsible for creating data and define their purpose. This will make the next step in data management simpler. 

De-silo and aggregate data

Organizational data is, by definition, siloed. But it shouldn’t be. To make data shareable across the organization and promote better utilization of it, companies need to adopt data lakes and warehouses. 

A data lake is a simple repository where unsorted, raw data is collected. Warehouses are where it goes to be sorted and stored, until it’s accessed by applications and people who need it. These systems are part of the broader business cloud—cloud connectivity is key in allowing data to flow freely from its input sources, no matter where they are in the organization. 

Clean, organize and store data

Data without context is useless. What is a workplace data management strategy without markers and identifiers that validate the data? From warehousing, data needs to be cleaned, organized, and accessible:

  • Cleaning data means turning it into a source of truth: removing duplicate or antiquated entries, formatting it uniformly, bringing together like-kind data, etc. 
  • Organizing data involves giving it labels, qualifiers, quantifiers, and structure that’s consistent with how people and systems will access it. 
  • Making data accessible means putting it into a warehouse repository that’s accessible and stable, with automations and integrations built-in to keep data fresh.

This stage requires the most technical expertise—data experts who understand Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) data operations or who can configure software like an iPaaS to improve data fluidity. 

Develop architecture and deploy data

By this stage of a digital data management process, the architecture largely exists. Each stage of the process has started to take shape based on the infrastructure needed to handle data:

  • Raw data feeds into data lakes
  • Data is cleaned and sorted into data warehouses
  • iPaaS and integrations make warehoused data widely available

For larger companies with more robust data resources or applications, there are other parts and pieces of infrastructure that may or may not become necessary:

  • Data catalogs that pre-format data for quick accessibility
  • Data automations that handle data without human intervention
  • Machine learning that orchestrates and reports insights

The result in most cases is a strong infrastructure that brings data to the forefront of different applications used for decision-making—Computer-Aided Facility Management (CAFM), Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), and Integrated Facilities Management Systems (IWMS). Most people won’t see the hamster spinning on the wheel to bring them data—they’ll just get the insights they need. 

Protect and secure data

No conversation about digital data management would be complete without heavy emphasis on cybersecurity. The more transactions data has between collection and application, the more opportunities there are for malicious action. Companies need to protect their data from all angles:

  • At the point of collection (ex. IoT cybersecurity)
  • At the point of transmission (ex. SSL connections)
  • At the point of storage (ex. Network security)
  • At the point of access (ex. Employee credentials)
  • In the peripheral (ex. Integrations and connections)

Cybersecurity starts with cognitive efforts to protect data. Use software that defends against cyberattacks. Educate employees about cybersecurity best practices. Create auditing processes for your data management system. Good habits and mindfulness, coupled with some common sense, ensure data remains secure. 

Every company is a data company

Every company generates data. As they learn more about how to use workplace data effectively, they also need to recognize the importance of data management. That means building out a strong data management infrastructure and protecting it from all angles. The easier and safer it is for data to travel across your organization, from one important touchpoint to the next, the more valuable that data becomes in decision-making at every level. 

Keep reading: The Top Challenges for Creating Smart Buildings


Job Profile: Facilities Maintenance Manager

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

The landscape for facilities after COVID-19 is going to be much different from what many businesses are used to. It’s the next step in the evolution of the workplace, and it’s important to keep pace with the demands and expectations that accompany it. This includes from a facilities maintenance standpoint. Now, as companies seek to staff their facilities with the best team to optimize and maintain them, it’s worth looking at the roles of these individuals, starting with the facilities maintenance manager.

What does a facilities maintenance manager do?

The easiest way to understand the important role of a facilities maintenance manager is to look at this position from a responsibility standpoint. It’s as easy as breaking down the job title itself.

Facilities maintenance managers actually fall under the IFMA-recognized umbrella of “facility managers,” which covers six defined areas of focus: Technology, Health & Safety, Recruitment & Training, Environment, Social Housing & Support, and Maintenance. As the name implies, a facilities maintenance manager oversees the execution of core facilities maintenance and upkeep tasks. This generally includes:

  • Creates the strategy and systems for broad facility maintenance
  • Ensures that the building meets health and safety standards and regulations
  • Installs a preventive maintenance system to keep facilities running
  • Manages maintenance team, including craftspeople and tradespeople
  • Coordinates with external vendors for all out-of-house services

In the same way the marketing manager oversees marketing operations or the finance manager keeps the accounting department running, a facilities maintenance manager focuses on the building’s needs and the means to meet them.

How to become a facility maintenance manager

There are a few ways to become a facility maintenance manager, and each track has its own pros and cons.

  • Institutional education. This path involves formal education for something in the realm of facility maintenance or upkeep. From there, it’s important to pursue facility management certification, such as an FMP, SFP, or CFM.
  • On-the-job experience. A professional might take on facility-related job duties over time until they’re inadvertently saddled with the role at a growing company. Eventually, they grow into the position and become the departmental authority in time.
  • Lateral movement. An employee may develop an inclination for facility maintenance while in another role or at another company, then leverage tenure or experience into a facility management career track, eventually climbing to the management level.

While each of these options represents a viable path to a facilities maintenance management position, they’re entirely circumstantial. Larger companies with more robust maintenance needs will likely prefer someone with formal training or long-term experience. Smaller companies offer more opportunities to “fall into the role” and learn on-the-go.

How much do facilities maintenance managers make?

While it depends on the size and organizational structure of the company, most facilities maintenance managers fall in the realm of upper (or senior) management. As such, the role tends to come with generous compensation.

According to data from PayScale, the average salary for a facility maintenance manager in the United States is $74,409, skewing as high as $82,000 for experienced professionals. For those hired directly into a facilities maintenance manager position, expect the salary to start lower, at between $46,000 and $54,000. These figures also represent a growth in income over other job titles on the road to becoming a facilities maintenance manager. For example, the average salary of a maintenance supervisor is around $43,000.

It’s also important to consider future salary growth at this position, both in terms of demand and career track. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the outlook for administrative service management professionals is growing faster than average, at 6% annually. Typically, in-demand fields drive competitive wages, which could mean better salaries in the near-term. There’s also upward mobility for facilities maintenance managers. The next step up? Some variation of director of facilities, which could net a salary of as high as $123,000.

A good facilities maintenance manager is vital

As the world adapts to life after the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are reassessing the role of facilities in their operational plan. It’s becoming critical to not only utilize facilities the right way, but to treat them like the asset they are. That means proactive and attentive maintenance.

Facilities maintenance managers have the arduous task of observing and addressing the full range of complex systems that keep a building operational. The good news is that they’re in a position to oversee a team of in-house or contracted technicians to help them. It’s a career that’s demanding and complex, but rewarding and fulfilling. And, it’s one companies big and small are beginning to appreciate more as demands and expectations for the workplace change.

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


Five Reasons to Use an Employee and Space Locator

By Devon Maresco
Marketing Coordinator

The workplace isn’t a static environment—at least, it shouldn’t be in this age of dynamic work. With the agility we see in workplaces today, the need for an employee and space locator quickly becomes evident. Workplace managers need to know where their people are, employees need the ability to locate desks, and facility managers need the data that comes with these interactions. 

For small and growing companies, the need for an employee and space locator can seem trivial. That is, until they realize this system is the backbone for everything from wayfinding to hotel desk management. It’s a platform that allows you to be as agile as your employees need you to be. The benefits touch every aspect of business, no matter how big or small the company. 

Here’s a look at five reasons to take a second look at investing in an employee and space locator.

1. Saved time for employees

Employee and space locator software offers the best of two important tools: wayfinding and employee directory. More important, it brings them together in a broader context that creates exemplary time savings for employees. 

Bailey needs to chat with Mara and Thom. Through the office’s employee and space locator app, Bailey can quickly see where the other two are and choose a nearby conference room that’s the right size and available at a time that works for all three of them. The entire process takes a few minutes, instead of countless minutes spent searching. 

This concept of saved time becomes even more important in flex work environments. Maybe Thom changes seats frequently? What if the nearest conference room isn’t available? Alternative options become instant possibilities.

2. Better space management

On the facility management side, employee and space locators generate constant data bout worker and workplace habits. Information expounds from these platforms, and managers can channel it into better decision making when it comes to space management and governance. 

If the third-floor conference room goes unused 73% of the time each month, it’s a good bet that space is better off repurposed. Likewise, employee location data might tell you that your employees prefer a hoteling arrangement, promoting an office-wide shift to this philosophy.

3. Govern facilities better

An employee locator unlocks broader governance capabilities for managers. It can help take facilities to a new level of usefulness and accessibility by creating new opportunities for space utilization. Someone who might’ve never used a hot desk can use one with ease—and coworkers can still find them with ease. Meanwhile, spaces without an identity can be governed as-needed by those who lack space. 

There’s also a level of access control and management. Employee locators can track the access habits of employees to show where controls might be useful in dictating the workplace. If executives are all on the fifth floor, it becomes easy to restrict access credentials to that area, to add security without disrupting workflows. It amounts to better space governance.

4. Institute seamless hoteling

As evidenced by the other benefits on this list, employee and space location software is the lynchpin for instituting an effective hoteling strategy in any office. With employees always on the move and workspaces constantly changing hands, there needs to be a system for identifying open/reserved spaces and finding employees wherever they may be. 

Hoteling is all about pairing open space with employee demand. To gauge both takes software that can process these demands. Employees interact with location software to find a space and, through the act of reserving it, alert the system to their location at a given time. The result is more than a free-flowing, unencumbered workplace—it’s the constant generation of data about workplace utilization.

5. Health and safety considerations

In a post-coronavirus world, health and safety are top-of-mind in any workplace. Wayfinding software and space reservations systems are on the front lines of sophisticated track and trace systems. With a full record of space occupation and employees’ proximity to one another, contact tracing becomes much easier—and more effective. 

There are also opportunities to execute better space sanitization and sterilization. Employee and space location data is the basis for cleaning schedules, sanitization buffers, maintenance windows, and more. For many companies, health and wellness compliance hinges on knowing where employees are (and have been), and which spaces they’ve interacted with.

Connect employees with the spaces they need

Every person within a workplace has a relationship to the different spaces it offers. An employee and space locator ties them together in meaningful ways. Employees can find the spaces best-suited to them. Facility managers can capture trends and make workplace adjustments. Management can tend their flock of productive personnel. 

There’s value in connecting people and spaces, from top to bottom. The simplest way to do it is through a robust wayfinding system with integrated employee and space locators. 

Keep reading: The Five Major Pillars of a Wayfinding Program