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Post COVID-19 Return to Office

Post COVID-19 Return to Office: How to Cope with Spikes

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

As of November 2020, the United States was riding the third wave of COVID-19 to new highs in daily positive cases. Or rather, the third surge of the first wave. Almost one year into the pandemic and it continues to spread unchecked. It’s causing disruptions for businesses at every level—especially for those hoping for a post COVID-19 return to office work. 

Many companies chose to open up their workplaces in late August during a downtrend in cases. Unfortunately, positive tests ticked up again in late September and have been on the rise ever since. This has spurred a return to remote work for many companies, while others are hunkering down to weather what appears to be a pandemic ready to surge into 2021. However they’re handling it, companies face many uncertainties and no small number of frustrations as they struggle to predict and plan for the pandemic. 

Is the workplace safe right now?

During the August bout of business reopening, many employees expressed concern over returning to the workplace for fear of a spike in cases. These fears are at a head—although not because of the workplace. In fact, there are few workplace hotspots reported. Experts attribute the uncontrolled rise in cases to the fact that “lockdown measures have lifted, more people are spending time indoors as weather gets cold, residents are feeling fatigued by safety measures, and cases never dropped sufficiently.”

Workplaces may in fact be safer than normal due to the stringent policies adopted at the outset of the pandemic. At-home self-assessments, mask mandates, workplace distancing, increased janitorial measures, and distant desking concepts combine to keep transmission opportunities low in the workplace. 

How to cope with spikes

Even if an employee doesn’t catch COVID-19 in the workplace, it doesn’t mean that workplace isn’t affected. Space utilization falls as more employees stay home. Spaces may be off-limits for disinfection after an employee tests positive. Other employees may need to self-quarantine in lieu of a positive test, due to the virus’ incubation period. These factors and countless others affect the workplace and make it more difficult to mount a successful return to work strategy. 

To cope with uncertainty, employers need to create stability. Just as they adopted new cleaning and social standards to help employees safely return to the office post COVID-19, companies also need to institute policies that drive predictable results. Here are some examples:

  • A hoteling policy allows employers to reorganize their workplace to optimize space utilization, control occupancy, and create contact tracing standards. 
  • Create a rolling schedule that separates employees into in-office and at-home groups, rotating bi-weekly to preserve a 14-day buffer in the event of a positive or false-positive.
  • Build in standards and protocols for each workspace that govern which employees can use them, when, and for how long, to dictate space utilization habits. 
  • Restructure the workplace to repurpose shared spaces into hoteling stations or single-person workstations, compliant with social distancing standards. 

To create predictability and certainty in their workplaces, employers need to embrace flexible work concepts within the context of a well-governed framework. This means managing hotel desks with office hoteling software or pre-scheduling workplace sanitization tasks as employees book spaces. A return to work that’s structured and managed is necessary to combat spikes in COVID-19 cases and the disruption that comes with them. 

Consider employee fears and frustrations

Even the best desking policy or the most thorough cleaning standards aren’t enough to quell employee fears about COVID-19. To assuage those fears and promote a safe, productive, comfortable return to work, employers need to be transparent in their efforts. 

  • Show employees exactly what changes you’ve made to accommodate them
  • Explain in specific detail how these changes promote safety and reduce risk
  • Lay out protocols for how contact tracing and employee privacy factor in
  • Recognize the severity of COVID-19 and empathize with concerned employees
  • Don’t dismiss fears or concerns; address them specifically and thoroughly

Ultimately, some employees will not feel comfortable with a return to work, no matter how broad your precautions are. If at all possible, find alternative work solutions for these individuals. If remote work isn’t possible, work to accommodate them in-house in as many ways as possible. 

Get back into the swing of things

Regardless of employee trepidation or rising COVID-19 cases, a return to work will take time. After working remotely for months or flexing back-and-forth between the office and remote work, employees need time to reset and settle themselves back into some semblance of a “normal” work environment. Whether it’s the one they enjoyed before COVID-19 or a “new norm” brought on by the pandemic, a post COVID-19 return to office work will take time. 

Read Next: Workplace COVID-19 Resources

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Space Planning for COVID-19

Space Planning for COVID-19: Four Effective Solutions

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

The concept of workspace allocation has been in flux since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some desking concepts are now inefficient in their use of space utilization, while others are downright inapplicable due to new standards for distancing. It has many businesses reevaluating their approach to space planning for COVID-19.

As they consider new workplace layouts and desking concepts, facility managers need to consider them within the context of the coronavirus pandemic. What desking concepts comply with social distancing standards? What spaces could need to change to promote better utilization? Are there policies to govern when, where, and how employees use specific workspaces? Above all, how can facility managers bring these criteria together through functional space planning?

It’s impossible to plan for an end to the pandemic, and failing to do anything means an inefficient workplace for as long as the pandemic rages on. Here are four effective solutions given the current predicament. 

1. Adopt a hoteling standard

Hoteling has emerged as one of the de-facto desking concepts during the pandemic. The relative flexibility of hoteling—combined with a framework of oversight through hotel space planning software—makes it easy to allocate the right space to the right people. Employees still get the freedom to choose their desk for the day or week, and facility managers get a clear understanding of occupancy and utilization. 

For hoteling to be effective, companies need to create hoteling stations that meet the needs of employees. This might mean special accommodations for different work groups or a specific location within the building, near certain facilities. Hotel stations need to be comfortable, adaptable, accessible, and conducive to concentration and productivity. 

2. Repurpose group work spaces

As companies explore new desking concepts like hoteling, they’ll need to borrow space from current facilities to make these concepts work. The simplest solution is to repurpose group work spaces, which are less likely to see usage during the pandemic (and after). A rise in Zoom meetings and virtual collaboration means many conference rooms, collaboration space, and group work areas can be dismantled and revived as hoteling areas or flex work spaces.

While it might seem dramatic to convert group workspaces into smaller workstations, realize that this is one of the most likely office space trends post COVID-19. Video chat and virtual collaboration changed group work in a major way by taking the need for proximity out of the equation. While the conference room is unlikely to ever go away, businesses should plan to dedicate less square footage to these spaces in the future. 

3. Schedule buffer time

Repurposing space and changing the desking strategy aren’t the only factors that affect space planning. How and when employees occupy a space also matter—as do the precautions that go into sanitizing it in a pandemic. In concepts like hoteling and hot desking, multiple employees will use the same desk over the course of a day or week, necessitating sanitization between uses. During these times, that space will be unavailable, which means planning to seat employees elsewhere during that time. 

Schedule appropriate buffers between start and stop times, so shared spaces receive cleaning between uses and employees aren’t disrupted while they’re using the space. This is as easy as generating support tickets along with space reservations or scheduling routine cleanings every few hours as bookings expire. This will keep the space clean and viable, in-play as part of a new workspace floor plan. 

4. Put parameters on workspaces

An often-overlooked COVID-19 office space planning tip is to limit who can use certain spaces or when they’re available. It seems counterintuitive for space optimization, but can help facility managers better-govern space, as well as the flow of employees through the workplace. 

For example, if the hotel desks on the fourth floor are off limits to anyone other than the sales team, Sales is less likely to spread out across the entire building. Likewise, the second floor might only be for Marketing, because the amenities on that floor are conducive to graphic design, print, and copywriting teams. 

This type of space-specific control ensures workplaces are available for those who need them, where and when they need them. It can avoid overcrowding in certain areas or bottlenecks for specific workspace types. Simple controls and parameters make a big difference in the effectiveness of a new workplace concept. 

Plan for COVID-19 and beyond

The great thing about these space planning solutions is that they all work together—and, they all create a framework for the workplace of the future. The marriage of flexible space planning with controls in place to govern workspaces sets the stage for an adaptable office environment. There’s no telling how long the pandemic will last or what the outcome will be. These solutions put more control in the hands of businesses as they consider the future of their physical workplace. 

Read Next: COVID-19 Workplace Resources

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How to Set up Hoteling Stations

How to Set up Hoteling Stations

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

Hoteling has become a prominent solution to the rise in flex work created by the coronavirus pandemic. Companies with limited in-house staff or those with rolling in-office schedules have turned to hoteling as a way to accommodate workers with more flexibility and predictability. To make this work, they’ve reconfigured the office to create hoteling stations. 

Hoteling stations come in many varieties, yet serve the same purpose: to provide a temporary workspace for employees in dynamic work environments. These spaces can take on many different qualities, depending on the type of work an employee might do at them or for what length of time they’ll be there. It’s up to facility managers to coordinate hoteling stations that meet the needs of their employees during this period of workplace disruption.

What is hoteling?

Hoteling involves assigning employees to desks for a predetermined period of time. Rather than a permanent, static desk all the time or only free-flowing workspaces, hoteling exists in-between. It combines the structure of assigned seating with the freedom of employees to pick that seating, or to explore new seating options with each hoteling reservation they make. Hoteling is a managed process, overseen by office hoteling software, a facility manager, or a combination of both. 

What is a hoteling station?

A hoteling station is a workplace, designed for short-term or temporary use—hence the concept of hoteling. It can be as simple as a desk and chair with basic hookups for a laptop, but is often more specific to the work habits of employees that may occupy it. For example, a hoteling station designed for product engineering might have two screens and a drawing trackpad, to facilitate better 3D modeling. 

How to optimize hoteling stations

The goal of hoteling is to maximize space utilization in facilities that need a system of governance for unpredictable or flexible work habits. To tap into the real value of hoteling, employees also need to get maximum value from the hotel desk they’re at. This goes beyond designing a space to fit a task. Here are a few other ways to optimize hoteling stations:

  • Place hoteling stations near amenities relevant to employees, such as hotel desks for creatives near meeting rooms where they can gather to collaborate on an idea. 
  • Consider sound and other stimuli. Employees will struggle to use a hotel desk if their surroundings are too much of a distraction. 
  • Make sure hoteling employees can access an admin or manager in case something goes wrong with the desk they’re at or they need additional support. 
  • In larger facilities, incorporate wayfinding with hoteling so employees always know where they’re going and how to get there, even if they think they know. 
  • Create diverse hoteling stations to accommodate different types of work in different areas of your facilities. Diversity helps every employee find their ideal work conditions. 
  • Create term limits or schedules for hotel desks. This encourages employees to embrace the flexibility of hoteling and discourages territorialism over particular spaces.

Above all, make sure the hoteling process is a seamless one. Employees should be able to search for open spaces during a given time, book that space for the time they need it, navigate there without issue, check in to their booking, and work without interruption. A hassle-free hoteling experience is what governs the success of this concept in the workplace. 

How many hoteling stations do you need?

The number of hoteling options you need depends on how many employees you expect to seat during any given day. This further depends on what kind of scheduling or flex work system your employees are on.

If employees come and go as they please, determine the average daily occupancy of your workplace over the course of a month, then compare this to the total number of employees. Buffer this percentage with an acceptable margin of extra hotel stations or create overflow areas for times when in-house occupancy spikes. 

If you have a set, rolling schedule for employees—for example, two weeks in office, two weeks remote—figure the highest number of in-office employees at any given time. This is the minimum number of hoteling stations needed. Fewer will leave employees “homeless” at work; too many extra will lower space utilization rates. 

Build hoteling stations employees will use

As is the case with hotels, there’s a broad description of what, exactly, a hotel room is. A hotel at the Ritz Carlton is much different from the one you’ll get at a Business Inn and Suites. The same holds true for workplace hoteling stations. Facility managers need to furnish employees with a space that helps employees enjoy their hoteling experience and makes them embrace the concept. 

A well-designed hoteling station sets the tone for an enjoyable hoteling experience, which rolls into everything from better space utilization to better productivity—all at a time when many workplaces feel up-ended and chaotic. It’s no wonder hoteling has emerged as a viable solution to quelling workplace uncertainties. 

Read Next: Streamline Desk Booking with Office Hoteling Software

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What is Facilities Maintenance Support Services?

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

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

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

The scope of facilities maintenance

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

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

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

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

A look at vendors and SLAs

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

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

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

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

Integrated facilities management

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

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

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

It takes a village

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

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

Keep reading: Get Familiar with a Facility Maintenance Plan

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What is a Facility Officer?

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

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

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

The many faces of a facility officer

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

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

Roles and responsibilities

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

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

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

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

The growing need for facilities leadership

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

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

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

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

Put someone in charge of facilities

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

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

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

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What Makes a Good Facility Manager?

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

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

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

What is a facilities manager?

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

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

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

Roles and responsibilities

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

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

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

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

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

The traits of a good facility manager

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

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

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

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

Set your company up for success

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

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

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

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What is the Average Salary for a Facilities Manager?

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

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

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

What is a facility manager? 

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

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

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

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

Salary data for facilities managers

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

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

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

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

Job outlook and future prospects

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

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

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

Why is facilities management so important?

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

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

Keep reading: How to Become a Facilities Manager

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What is Facility Management in Real Estate?

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

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

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

What is the role of facility management?

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

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

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

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

What is the difference between property and facility management?

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

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

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

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

Consider facilities management software

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

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

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

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

Real estate considerations are paramount

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

Keep reading: Why is Facility Management Important for Productivity?

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Five Employee Engagement Strategies That Create Empathy

By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
SpaceIQ

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

What are examples of employee engagement?

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

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

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

1. Diversity and inclusion training

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

2. Match company values with initiatives

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

3. Create a system for feedback and betterment

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

4. Promote transparency in operations

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

5. Address social concerns openly

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

An empathetic workforce is invaluable

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

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

Keep reading: Accountability and Acceptance for Remote Employees

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How Can Facility Management Reduce Costs?

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist
SpaceIQ

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

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

Consider cost of ownership for each workspace

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

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

Adopt and adapt to free assign and flex spaces

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

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

Use software to maximize facilities

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

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

Create a frictionless experience

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

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

Plan long-term, for the new norm

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

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

Keep reading: How to choose the best facility management software