How Can Facility Maintenance Reduce Costs?

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist

Facilities are a source of ongoing costs for any business. Aside from the lease itself, facility upkeep requires no small budget and even the best planning can’t account for every cost that’ll arise throughout the year. Most businesses accept the cost of facilities outright, which is why they don’t always see opportunities for facilities maintenance to save money. How can facility maintenance reduce costs?

There are actually ample prospects for facilities maintenance cost savings if you know where to look. Too many stakeholders only look at the balance sheet and see the cost of facilities maintenance in the expense column. What they’re missing is the offsetting value of good facilities maintenance and opportunities to consolidate some of those costs into even more value. Here’s how.

What are the largest maintenance costs?

The simplest way to identify cost-saving opportunities is to identify the largest costs associated with facilities upkeep. What (or who) are you spending the most money on, and what are you getting for that price? Approach these expenses from both a cost and a value standpoint.

Let’s say 26% of your facilities budget went to HVAC this year—more than a quarter of your total spend Dive deeper. How much of that was standard, proactive maintenance vs. repair costs or emergent expenses? If you find that 86% of your expenses went to proactive costs, it signals good value, despite the high allocation. Conversely, if a significant portion of your costs went unbudgeted, it signals inefficiency and opportunity to explore cost-saving options. Perhaps a newer, more efficient rooftop HVAC unit?

Comb through your maintenance expenses, first by cost, then by value. Opportunities for expense reduction will quickly start to stick out.

Explore cost-saving opportunities

As you start to identify inflated expenses, ask yourself: how can facility maintenance services be improved around these expenses? Approach specific costs from as many angles as possible to determine viable options to reduce expenses. Some examples include:

  • Update: Will an upfront investment equate to long-term cost savings?
  • Automate: Can you reduce maintenance costs by reducing labor or man hours?
  • Integrate: Is there a different vendor who can do this at a lower cost?
  • Consolidate: Is this a task you can bring in-house to do more affordably?

Again, consider cost and value. Can you reduce the cost associated with maintenance to save the company money? If so, great! If not, is there a way to maintain this cost but derive more value from the expense? Explore opportunities from both angles.

Five ways facility maintenance can cut costs

One of the ways facilities maintenance can create more value for a company is by reducing peripheral costs. There are many ways facility maintenance can cut costs associated with operation. Explore the following:

  1. Good HVAC upkeep can reduce the prevalence of Sick Building Syndrome, which keeps employees healthier and prevents lost revenue caused by an informed workforce.
  2. In the era of COVID-19 and agile workplaces, facility sanitization and upkeep can help maintain employee health and wellness, which reduces lost time in transition.
  3. Facility maintenance of an office IoT ensures broader data collection capabilities, which results in better space utilization and improved cost efficiency.
  4. Proactive upkeep of facilities prevents larger, unexpected repair costs from entering the fold. This serves to reduce the long-term cost of ownership of facilities.
  5. Proper maintenance of grounds can reduce the prevalence of hazards or obstacles that might otherwise impact employee safety and create legal fees or medical expenses.

The value of good facilities maintenance extrapolates into numerous potential avenues of cost savings and even revenue generation. Facilities touch every part of operations, which correlates upkeep to both cost savings and generation. It’s even reasonable to say that good facilities maintenance equates to better productivity, thereby justifying maintenance costs as a contributor to revenue.

Maintain facilities with a cost-conscious mindset 

Think about the cost of facilities upkeep as a variable you can manipulate. In some cases, you can reduce expenses through a more efficient approach to generate direct cost savings. In other cases, the cost of maintenance may not change, but the value increases as the methodology changes. In either case, the business benefits.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that facilities maintenance costs are non-negotiable. Likewise, don’t strive to cut costs across the board simply for the sake of lowering the burden on the balance sheet. Take a cost-conscious mindset and approach facilities maintenance with strategy. Where can you get the most bang for your buck? Where are there opportunities to trim the fat? Most important: how do your decisions affect facilities beyond the cost of upkeep?

Keep reading: Does your business have a facility maintenance plan?


How to Write a Facilities Maintenance Job Description

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist

Scalability is an obstacle for many companies, not only when it comes to production and fulfillment, but for staffing as well. One area in particular that’s difficult to staff is facilities maintenance—often because businesses aren’t quite sure of who to staff or in what capacity. They start writing a facilities maintenance job description and stop because they’re not sure what responsibilities they’re hiring for.

There’s a broad scope of qualified facilities maintenance professionals out there to choose from. The question is: who brings the most value to an in-house team? It doesn’t make sense to hire a plumber when you could call any one of a dozen nearby. Instead, you want to bring multifaceted talent in-house—someone who can tend to the many everyday needs of facilities, to keep them running smoothly.

Here’s how to write a facilities maintenance job description, to attract the type of professional your facilities deserve at the helm.

Why hire facilities maintenance personnel?

First, ask yourself what your general need for facilities maintenance is. The decision to hire an in-house maintenance professional or build out a team hinges on several key factors:

  • Consistent demand for facilities maintenance
  • Cost savings generated by hiring staff
  • Convenience associated with on-site staff
  • The shift to an integrated management approach

As a company grows, facilities demands tend to scale along with it. The decision to bring on a facility maintenance manager or build out an in-house team should support the continued success of the company. For example, an on-site handyman can resolve a basic electrical problem within the hour, while outsourcing this task might take an entire day or more.

Consider the reasons behind hiring facilities maintenance personnel as you begin the search. When you understand the objective, it’ll be easier to describe the position and communicate expectations to candidates.

Describe the position and expectations

What are the main roles of a facilities maintenance manager? What do you expect from facilities maintenance personnel on a day-to-day basis? These are the most important pieces of information to put into a job description, because they set the tone for applicants. While the job title might be what attracts them, discerning candidates will read the job duties to know exactly what they’re applying for. Here’s what to include:

  • A sampling or broad list of daily, weekly, monthly tasks
  • Delineate any special tasks or duties that require advanced knowledge
  • Information about the role as a standalone position or part of a team
  • Describe chain of command and who the hire will report to
  • Mention software or systems candidates should be familiar with
  • Physical demands of the job, such as lifting heavy objects
  • Describe the business and size/type of facilities

Facilities maintenance is a broad description. A detailed breakdown of the specific position, duties, and expectations casts a more defined net out into the ocean of potential candidates. The more information provided, the better the applicant pool will be (theoretically).

Set qualifications (and be specific)

One final important part of writing a good facilities maintenance job description is to be specific about qualifications. This applies to companies large and small, especially in sectors where special skills, knowledge, or training are important. Ask potential candidates for the following:

  • Formal education (ex. Bachelor’s Degree in Facilities Maintenance)
  • Certifications (ex. SMC certification from BOMI)
  • Memberships (ex. IFMA Membership)
  • Specialized training (ex. journeyman electrician)

Establish qualifications for applicants to narrow the scope of who you’re looking for, and to make sure individuals you interview have the baseline capabilities to do the job you need them to. For example, if you need a repair technician to oversee your expanding IoT network, post a description with specific education, training, and certification surrounding smart buildings and the IoT.

A sample facilities maintenance job description

What should your final facilities maintenance job description look like? Here’s a basic sample:


Facility Maintenance Professionals are responsible for basic maintenance and repair of the facility, including interior, exterior, and vital systems (HVAC, plumbing, electrical). Individuals should prepare to field work request tickets through a CMMS and respond to the general everyday needs of facilities upkeep. New hires will work as part of a three-person team, responsible for upkeep of 15,000 square feet of traditional commercial office space.

Basic Duties

  • Drywall/plaster repair and painting
  • Furniture assembly and relocation
  • Changing lights and/or fixtures
  • Plumbing repairs, replacements, installation
  • Carpentry repairs and installations (doors, shelves, countertops)
  • Minor repair of electrical devices
  • Facilities safety inspections
  • Concrete and asphalt paving inspections and repairs
  • Grounds and security maintenance (fencing, gate arms and gates)


  • Maintain tools and equipment in clean, safe, working order
  • Adhere to all safety requirements and wear proper Personal Protective Equipment
  • Respond to emergency situations to ensure employee and facility safety
  • Comply with OSHA and other local, state and federal regulations
  • Adhere to organization and facilities department policies and procedures
  • Build relationships and demonstrate a high level of cooperation


  • High school diploma or general education degree (GED)
  • 2 years facility maintenance experience
  • Familiarity with CMMS ticketing system
  • Valid state Driver’s License
  • The ability to lift and/or move up to 100 pounds

Keep in mind, this is merely a basic example of a facility maintenance job description. Your description should be specific to your company’s needs, your unique facilities, and your hiring objectives.

Focus on building a maintenance team

Whether you’re hiring your first in-house maintenance staff member or your 50th, keep scalability in mind. The purpose of hiring these professionals is to ensure the continued smooth operation of facilities. Hire qualified staff who can work together and cooperate as a unit. After all, the success of your in-house maintenance team is directly evident in the upkeep, maintenance, and efficiency of your facilities.

Keep reading: Get Familiar with a Facility Maintenance Plan


How Can Facility Management Services Be Improved?

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist

No matter what area of business you’re in, innovation is the key to staying ahead. How can you do what you’re already doing…but better? Look at every new smartphone iteration or the annual release of vehicles and you’ll see the same concept, continually refined. But it’s not only products that benefit from constant improvement. Companies need to look inward, too. For example, how can facility management services be improved? What value do they have?

Facilities management is one of the largest segments of operation for any company—largely because there’s a tremendous amount of work involved in the maintenance, oversight, and optimization of facilities. Because it’s such a broad area of focus, there’s also significant opportunity for betterment. It’s up to companies to identify these opportunities and embrace them.

Even if you’re following facilities management best practices, there are still avenues for improvement worth exploring. Here are a few of them.

Use software to enhance capabilities

How can facility management reduce costs? This is often the first question on any real estate manager’s mind. The trick is to reduce costs without disrupting the balance of a well-orchestrated workplace. To do that takes data and the tools to dissect and analyze that data.

Investment in an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) or Computer-Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) platform is a step in the right direction. The numerous resources and features associated with these systems gives facility managers deep insights they can use to drive beneficial change.

This includes at a vendor management or in-house service level. Imagine the ability to route support tickets to the right craftspeople in real-time or the ability to track work orders and invoices to vendors against an SLA. Beyond this, features like digital twins bring tangibility to management services for capital systems—everything from traceable work histories to advance notification of upcoming maintenance or service requirements. Software does what no single person can in the quest to streamline facilities management services.

Automate and delegate where possible 

There are so many functions of facilities management that it takes an entire team to oversee them. This is an opportunity for improvement in and of itself. How can you use automation to improve delegation or to reduce or eliminate labor-intensive tasks altogether? Again, software plays a fundamental role.

Automating facilities management services serves two purposes. First, it saves costs by reducing labor hours. Second, it narrows gaps in execution to reduce or prevent mistakes. Whether it’s invoice generation, support ticket management, or reporting of key metrics, automating these tasks is invariably more efficient and effective than spending significant manpower on them.

For those tasks that do need human oversight, delegation is an important step toward better efficiency. When there’s no question in who, what, where, when, why, or how, there’s efficiency and thoroughness in execution.

Practice integrated facilities management

We’ve talked at length about integrated facilities management: the consolidation of outsourced services to a select service provider(s). More and more, this is something for companies to consider as they look for ways to optimize their facilities management services. Compact SLAs, better rates, consolidated invoicing, and a single-source solution for broad facility needs are all reasons to integrate services.

Integrated facilities management also makes it easier to continuously optimize and improve facilities services. As standards evolve and change, it’s easy to collaborate with a single service provider to adapt to them. Consider an event like the coronavirus crisis. Would you rather communicate new standards to a dozen vendors or two primary partners? The simplicity and convenience of an integrated approach makes it one of the smartest ways to streamline facilities services administration.

Audit facilities management practices

As companies seek to improve facility management and the administration of vital services, it’s crucial to have an auditing process in place. How do you know if the changes you’re making are worthwhile? What evidence do you have that the new way of administering facilities services yields ROI? Auditing—especially against metrics, goals, and benchmarks—is a great way to justify change to facilities oversight. Auditing is also a critical part of any continuous improvement process.

Always look for opportunities to innovate

Best practices in facilities management are ever-evolving. The scope and purpose of facilities changes on a daily basis. The role of facilities is constantly involved in a tug-o-war between employees, company stakeholders, and analysts. This is all to say that facilities management is both a complex practice and one rife for innovation at every level.

It all circles back to the core question: how can you do what you’re already doing, but better? It’s a question facilities managers need to ask themselves diligently. There are numerous ways to improve facilities management services. It’s worth it to identify them and pursue strategies and initiatives that have real benefit for employees, operations, and the company as a whole.

Keep reading: Why is Facility Management Important for Productivity?

Workplace Thought Leadership

Data Governance: A Critical Component of Good Workplace Management

By Kane Hochster
Chief Sales Officer

Every business collects data of some kind. Small companies may keep customer records in spreadsheets while global organizations use multiple systems to manage everything from HR data, sales, assets and workplace management.

But having data doesn’t automatically mean the reports gleaned from that information are accurate and actionable. You know the saying, “Garbage in, garbage out”? Businesses may be great at collecting data, but is it the right data? Is it being used to meet objectives?

“Inaccurate data means you’re basing decisions on bad information, which may mean building a workplace that doesn’t meet employees’ needs or drains facility management budgets,” said Kimberly Castle, account director with Buildingi, an IWMS/BIM consulting firm and Archibus partner. “You may also be leasing too much space because bad data shows that 15% of your workforce doesn’t work in the physical office anymore – when the true figure is much higher.”

Many businesses are learning a hard lesson as they navigate their ongoing responses to COVID-19. The constant flux of COVID safety mandates puts greater emphasis on the need for real-time data to create processes to meet those standards. Companies must rely on accurate reports to make decisions on everything from maximum allowable occupancy for conference rooms to workstation spacing to where to position contactless circulation pathways. As work from home policies persist, most firms will seek to adjust their portfolios and add flexibility to promote workplace choice. That’s where a robust data governance system comes in.

For clarity, data governance is not the same as data management. CIO Magazine defines data governance as: A system for defining who within an organization has authority and control over data assets and how those data assets may be used. It encompasses the people, processes, and technologies required to manage and protect data assets.” Data management is the logistics of collecting and storing information – a must for data governance to work.

Bob Sits Where?

Fellow Buildingi account director Amber Miller once helped a client combine an integrated workplace management system (IWMS) with an HR system. This common integration is designed to make it easier for users to update where they sat, so the HR platform was populated with a list of room numbers.

“But then we started noticing anomalies, like people being assigned to a bathroom or hallway. We had to go back and have the client apply data governance rules to limit which types of seats and rooms were approved for the data feed,” she said.

Then there’s the issue of corporate tech systems not speaking the same language. Castle was helping a large life insurance company integrate data from multiple systems.

“There were all these terms that had a different meaning in every system. For example, the definition of ‘full-time employee’ or ‘headcount’ wasn’t the same across the board,” she said. “And that was a problem because data reports would get sent to the CEO with glaring discrepancies.”

Think of it this way: One person may collect and store information (data management), but a large number may access it, run reports, and use those details to make strategic decisions. If one person alters or uploads inaccurate data, the change effects everyone downstream. That can cause big problems if your job is reporting compliance levels to regulatory agencies or preparing a company’s tax returns.

“It’s one thing to collect and track data, but if there’s no data integrity, you’ll simply get ‘garbage-in and garbage-out,’” Castle said. “Technology allows us to automatically flag where things don’t match; a tight and consistent data governance program is key to getting everyone on the same page.”

Data Governance and COVID-19

The ups and downs of COVID-19 is creating a new urgency for companies to collect data on and analyze employee movement in the workplace. Data on occupancy, furniture arrangements, and desk reservations is a starting point for health and safety measure implementation. But without rigorous data governance, employee movement and contact tracing information are unreliable.

“Before COVID, the industry focused on ‘butts in seats,’ or how many people are assigned to a building. But the challenge during the pandemic is that’s no longer an accurate way to measure occupancy,” Miller said. “For example, an employee can be assigned to a desk, but they aren’t coming into the office every day. We’re now looking at utilization in terms of users in building vs. users assigned to seats.”

Floor-to-ceiling elevation is one metric that’s been impacted by COVID because it impacts air quality and flow, Miller said. Before the coronavirus forced everyone to think about ventilation in new ways, space planners didn’t have cause to look across a floor layout. Now, data that was once used almost exclusively by facilities is being analyzed and acted upon by executive management, HR, and other departments.

COVID-19 has put greater emphasis on why data governance is the foundation for quality workplace data management. Companies are asking questions of data sets that weren’t in the original parameters, searching for answers that will ultimately keep businesses open and employees safe. As organizations look beyond the pandemic, better data governance is critical for making confident and productive strategic decisions about workplace management now and into the future.

Keep reading: Workplace Management Solutions For Your Business


How Can Facilities Management Add Value?

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist

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

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

Spotlight on the functions of facilities management

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

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

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

Reduced costs attributed to real estate 

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

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

Improved culture and employee satisfaction

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

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

Proactive safety and preparedness

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

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

Create a robust facilities management strategy

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

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

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

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


Coworking Space Management Software

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist

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

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

What is space management software?

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

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

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

What is coworking software?

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

How do you manage a coworking space? 

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

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

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

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

Coworking shouldn’t be chaotic

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

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

Keep reading: Who Uses Coworking Spaces?


Building Preventive Maintenance Checklist

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist

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

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

What is a preventive maintenance checklist?

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

How do you prepare a preventive maintenance checklist?

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

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

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

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

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

Software’s role in checklist creation

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

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

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

Consider roles and delegation

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

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

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

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

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

Simple checklists are powerful tools

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

Keep reading: Breaking Down BIM Facility Management Software


Why Choose Facilities Management as a Career?

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist

Choosing a career path is one of the most important things a person does. Unfortunately, we’re often expected to have that answer when we graduate high school. Most adults aren’t quite sure, so they immerse themselves in different experiences in an attempt to find a profession that speaks to them. More are finding facilities management as they explore the wider world of corporate careers.

Why choose facilities management as a career path? Not only is it a career field that’s growing and in-demand, it’s one many people find challenging (in a good way). There’s nothing like going to work and appreciating what you do every day. For many facilities managers, their career is the perfect combination of challenge, routine, earning potential, and excitement.

Here’s a look at why more people are pursuing a career in facilities management and what’s driving them to succeed in their field.

An up-and-coming profession

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), facility management services are part of broader administrative services. This career group as a whole is expected to see 6% growth over the next decade, which is higher than the average for other similar professions. Moreover, with more demand comes competitive pay! Median pay over the next decade is anticipated to be $96,940 per year on average, which means facility managers at larger organizations can expect to make well-into six figures annually.

For individuals who want a sustainable, well-paying career, facilities management is a desirable one. With 21,200 more jobs expected in the coming decade, individuals excited by the prospect of managing facilities will find themselves with plenty of opportunities to settle in and grow.

The CRE landscape is changing

Commercial real estate (CRE) is a cyclical market—one that’s looking more volatile over the next decade. Especially in the wake of COVID-19, commercial real estate management is a priority for growing companies. They’re trying to do more with less, which demands dedicated oversight from a facilities manager. From new desking concepts to concepts like integrated facilities management, the way companies use and manage facilities is changing.

For most organizations, the changing CRE market offers opportunities. They need a facilities manager to help recognize and qualify those opportunities. Are we paying too much for our current lease? Do we need all the space we currently have? If we adopt X desking policy, how much money will it save us with regard to Y and Z variables? As they answer these questions, today’s facility managers are quite literally shaping the CRE landscape of tomorrow.

Data is driving demand for FMs

Like most corporate professions these days, facilities management is butting up against data, which is appealing to analytical minds. While facilities management has always been about problem-solving and meeting demands, facilities management software is expanding that in brand-new ways. For those who love puzzles and salivate at the sight of data, this is a profession worth exploring.

Today’s facilities managers need not only to be decisive and forward-looking, but to back up their decisions with data. Why should the company reduce traditional workspace X% and reallocate that space to hot desks? What kind of ROI could the company see next year if it makes a capital expenditure of $X this year? If you’re someone who can look at data to glean insights and use those insights to affirm a decision, facilities management is a profession in desperate need of your talents.

The workplace is expanding

As the CRE sector ebbs and data shapes the workplace of the future, the functions of facilities management are changing. One of the best reasons to get involved in facility management today is to have a hand in shaping the future of how we work. Distributed teams, digital workspaces, flex work, agile workplaces, and more are all concepts on the rise. There’s demand for leaders willing to study and optimize these trends so the future of work benefits employees and companies alike.

The most exciting and appealing prospect of a career as a facilities manager right now is the paradigm shift of a post-COVID-19 world. As the workplace transcends physical walls, facilities managers have an opportunity to govern a workplace unlike any other that’s ever existed before.

Remote work and distributed teams offer new challenges. Shrinking commercial demands drive companies to do more with less. New work styles and new technologies have forced new workplace oversight standards. It’s an exciting time to get involved with facilities.

Keep reading: What is a Facilities Manager in Today’s Modern Office?


A Brief Introduction to Facilities Management

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist

From an outsider’s perspective, “facilities management” seems self-explanatory. For anyone pursuing a career as a facilities manager, it can seem like an oversimplification for a job growing more complex each year. To understand the title, the role, and everything that comes with them, it’s best to get a brief introduction to facilities management.

Below, we’ll explore what facilities management is, what its core functions are, how facilities managers do their jobs, and what the objective in all of it is. Keep in mind that while we’ll address the basics, facilities management is in an era of innovation right now. How businesses use commercial real estate, employee expectations for facilities, and the tools that govern facilities are all growing and changing.

What is facilities management?

Facilities management involves coordination, delivery, and management of building support services that impact operations. In most organizations, facilities management is the sum of multiple focuses, all related to the building and what happens within it:

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

Facilities management spans both “hard” and “soft” services, with a scope of work that can vary depending on the size of the organization or the complexities of facilities. Corresponding duties focus on the building (hard) and people (soft), and work to bring them together in a way that benefits operations. According to the International Facility Management Association (IFMA):

“Facility management (FM) is a profession that encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure functionality, comfort, safety and efficiency of the built environment by integrating people, place, process and technology.”

The functions of facilities management span 11 core skill sets, according to IFMA. Facilities managers need to consider each of them as they cultivate and maintain facilities that enable and empower employees:

  1. Communication
  2. Facility information and technology
  3. Finance and business
  4. Leadership and strategy
  5. Occupancy and human factors
  6. Operations and maintenance
  • Performance and quality
  • Project management
  • Real estate
  • Risk management
  • Sustainability

The beauty of facilities management is that it’s scalable. A small startup company with only a few employees and a small workplace won’t need the same oversight as a multinational company with thousands of staff spread across dozens of buildings in as many countries. It’s up to facilities managers to align their duties with the company mission, at the scale necessary for success.

A rundown of facility management software 

It’s impossible to talk about facilities management today without mentioning the exploding marketplace for facility management software. The rise in data-driven decision-making by companies has facilitated the need to not only de-silo data, but to quantify as much of the workplace as possible.

Today’s software, in conjunction with the Internet of Things (IoT), sheds amazing insight into how the workplace actually works. Whether it’s hot desk utilization or temporary floor plan development, software provides key insights that drive better decisions. Moreover, data collected and aggregated by workplace software becomes benchmarks for improvement. Whether for cost-control or productivity improvement, facility software paves the way for betterment.

As is the case with most technologies, today’s workplace software helps facilities managers do their job better and faster. Machine learning insights, automation, and robust data reporting all add up to a better picture of the perfect work environment—from individual workspaces to the building as a whole.

What’s the objective of facilities management?

The endgame for every facilities manager is to create a workplace that supports success at every level—from individual employees (micro) to the company (macro). Facilities need to be safe, welcoming, accommodating, empowering, versatile, agile, cost-efficient, and adaptable to meet diverse expectations.

Think of how many facets of business operation the workplace touches—even today, during the age of distributed teams and remote work. Wherever it’s involved, the workplace needs to provide unwavering support—whether that’s reliable wifi, a comfortable workspace, an emergency exit, clean air, sanitary bathrooms, and beyond. The core objective of facilities management is to proactively meet any and all demands of the workforce and the business, to foster success.

There’s growing demand for good management

Facilities manager is a position with growing demand in the corporate world. Beyond taking care of facilities or overseeing employees’ interaction with the workplace, facilities management is now a core part of a company’s strategy for success. Like a CEO manages operations or a CFO oversees finances, a facilities manager is a paramount addition to any company that recognizes the power of the workplace to affect success.

Keep reading: Why is Facility Management Important for Productivity?