Integrated facilities management has always been critical to overall organizational success because of how it impacts key performance metrics like growth, productivity, and the bottom line. But as the landscape has changed, so has the process of identifying facility management goals and objectives.
By Fred Kraus
Senior Director, Product, Archibus
Issues surrounding indoor air quality (IAQ) can typically be broken down into two categories: environmental safety factors and the risk of pathogen transmission. While indoor air safety has been a growing concern for several years, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the topic of pathogen transmission to the forefront of the IAQ conversation.
Since factors like indoor temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide levels can influence pathogen transmission, business owners are more concerned about optimizing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) maintenance than ever before. COVID-19 may be a driving force in the movement to optimize IAQ but boosting ventilation performance also improves safety and cuts costs.
Let’s take a look at how a streamlined operations and maintenance approach can improve indoor air safety.
Maintaining IAQ at scale: Is it possible?
The manual approach to preventive HVAC maintenance is highly ineffective on a larger scale. As an example, one college might have 53 buildings, 145 AHUs with IAQ issues, and 838 zones with IAQ issues. On this level, even simple HVAC fixes like stuck fire dampers or loose set screws would be challenging to keep up with.
Preventive maintenance best practices recommend making almost 1,000 HVAC checks per year. To accomplish this, facility managers would constantly need to check on parts such as cooling towers, chillers, boilers, etc. And this preventive maintenance would all be on top of other urgent, corrective maintenance requests submitted on a daily basis.
In reality, most organizations simply cannot handle this type of maintenance. From budget constraints to a lack of resources, there are countless challenges standing in the way of frequent preventive maintenance.
Typically, most HVAC systems are left unfixed until someone in the building complains about it. Without the right tools to help scale preventive maintenance, companies just can’t keep up.
Optimizing IAQ with fault detection and diagnostics
So, how can organizations overcome the challenges of HVAC preventive maintenance? Simply by switching from a manual approach to a smarter, software-driven approach.
Fault detection and diagnostics (FDD) software offered by companies like Clockworks Analytics allows organizations to run a daily analysis on HVAC systems, identifying any hidden issues across all equipment. Rather than falling behind on hundreds of annual preventive maintenance checks, companies can run thousands of automated checks every day and transition to a condition-based approach.
Detailed diagnostic reports eliminate the time-consuming investigation process. Instead, they deliver a straightforward list of HVAC issues to be resolved. These reports provide important information such as:
- Equipment ID
- Impacted tenants
- Work orders
- Part numbers
- Work history
- Recommended tasks
Technology helps keep the air clean
An integrated workplace management system (IWMS) – like that offered by Archibus – can be integrated with a tool like Clockworks Analytics to aggregate and centralize data, making it easier and faster for facilities managers to schedule and track work orders.
This streamlined system replaces outdated spreadsheets and paper documents. It allows facilities managers to easily manage tasks like:
- Replacing air filters and other consumable filtration equipment
- Cleaning HVAC units
- Inspecting for mold growth
- Clearing condensation in drains
- Examining registers and exchangers
The shift to real-time response
By shifting from a rigid, scheduled approach to a more natural, real-time response system, organizations will be better equipped to stay on top of HVAC preventive maintenance.
Here are a few reasons how an FDD and IWMS working together can enable a real-time response method:
- Tackle multiple tasks at once. Facilities managers can view upcoming maintenance needs and tackle them while working on another task in the same area.
- Match the right people with the right tasks. The software can align the type of issue with the best person fit to complete the task.
- Prioritize tasks based on needs. Facilities managers can prioritize tasks based on categories like energy waste, comfort, or impact on maintenance.
- Learn the true cost of unresolved maintenance tasks. The software highlights avoidable costs, allowing organizations to potentially save thousands of dollars each year.
- Cut out manual investigations. Fault detection and diagnostics software doesn’t just deliver IAQ measurements – it points out potential root cause issues, too. This allows organizations to save time by skipping the manual investigation process.
Making the most of fault detection and diagnostics
Ultimately, switching to a highly intelligent, real-time response system doesn’t change the diagnostic data. What it does change is how that data is put into action. Whether an organization wants to focus on a specific HVAC zone, a particular type of equipment, or specific IAQ issues, an IWMS allows them to achieve their goal.
The cost of falling behind on HVAC maintenance is clear. Organizations put their employees’ health, safety, and comfort at risk. That leaves them vulnerable to pathogens like COVID-19.
Thankfully, when combined with an IWMS, an integrated fault detection and diagnostics system allow companies to protect employees, avoid unplanned downtime, and increase overall efficiency in HVAC preventive maintenance.
Keep reading: Get Familiar with a Facility Maintenance Plan
By Danielle Moore
Director, Channel Marketing
Businesses were hit hard during the pandemic. But with the trials, many businesses have discovered room for improvement and growth. Government agencies, healthcare facilities, and public schools are now in a positive position to rise above and come out stronger thanks to the American Rescue Plan.
What is the American Rescue Plan?
Millions of Americans recently benefited from stimulus checks, tax breaks, and extended unemployment benefits. This economic relief — totaling more than $242 billion — came as a result of the American Rescue Plan signed by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021. In addition to aiding citizens on individual levels, this plan has stepped in to support businesses and organizations — and leave them stronger than ever before.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, agencies had to adapt to stay afloat. Government duties were halted as buildings turned into emergency medical facilities. Revenue was lost and employees were laid off. To remedy these issues, the American Rescue Plan set aside $350 billion in emergency funds to help state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments.
We quickly learned how essential technology is to the health and success of businesses during the pandemic. And now, moving forward, technology continues to support and protect organizations. Because of this, the General Services Administration (GSA) now manages two funds geared to strengthen agencies’ digital operations. The $1 billionTechnology Modernization Fund aims to fortifythe federal government’s cybersecurity while developing cutting-edge tools made to adapt to change. Additionally, $150 million from the Federal Citizen Services Fund will bring positive change to the federal technology workforce and bolster systems for better citizen experiences.
Healthcare workers were stretched to the limit as healthcare facilities became inundated with patients. However, vital lessons were learned, and, as a result, the healthcare industry has improved. Ushering in further improvement, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is offering $7.5 billion to healthcare facilities for information technology assistance, enhancements to information systems and reporting, data sharing, and support of vaccine distribution.
Of the 1.4 million public sector jobs lost during the pandemic, 1 million of those jobs belonged to teachers. Schools underwent rapid changes to respond to the emergence of COVID-19, including the introduction of remote learning for many. Determined to help schools recuperate from the adjustments, the American Rescue Plan issued $122 billion for the U.S. Department of Education to serve K-12 schools and higher education institutions. These funds are intended to help prevent layoffs, provide internet access and devices to students without connectivity, and allow a safe return to in-person learning with resources for social distancing.
Improving technology to repair and thrive
Undoubtedly, the American Rescue Plan has — and will continue to — lift and support businesses that underwent adversity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But this plan does more than simply help businesses recover; it helps them thrive. The key to this persistent success is technology.
Equipped with technology that improves standard processes, workplace management, and overall organization, organizations become smooth-running machines. This efficiency is what saves resources and protects companies from future disasters. The American Rescue Plan has created a unique opportunity for public sector organizations to update or invest in vital technology, such as an integrated workplace management system (IWMS).
Navigating workplace changes with IWMS software
A company’s facilities and infrastructure comprise 25 to 50 percent of its fixed assets and operating costs. Help your business succeed in a globally competitive market by properly managing these precious resources. This is where SpaceIQ can help. Our Archibus platform has helped companies return to work with innovative features that offer solutions to the many negative impacts of COVID-19.
As people return to work and school, there are many variables in question, such as how to follow social distancing protocols, schedule offices, and classrooms, and track the phases of students and employees coming back to work. The Archibus system has clarified these questions and allowed organizations to function at their full potential.
Take a look at some of the ways that Archibus can simplify your workplace management:
- Space Inventory. Assign employees to safe seats that meet social distancing guidelines.
- Occupancy. Track and manage which employees are working remotely, in cohorts, or coming back to work in phases.
- Hoteling. Let employees select a desk from a pool of pre-approved, socially distanced spaces.
- Corrective Work. Automatically schedule room and desk cleanings between reservations to promote a safer work environment for employees.
- Reservations. Allow pre-approved room reservations that incorporates time before and after a meeting for proper cleaning.
- Workplace. Help employees find resources, book meetings and workspaces, access services, and request moves through a convenient desktop or mobile experience.
- Space Planning. Forecast and plan for large space and occupancy changes at all levels, including portfolio, city, site/campus, and building and room levels.
- Moves. Streamline your move/add/change processes to support employee safety with minimal organizational disruption.
- Preventive Maintenance. Schedule daily or periodic “deep clean” work orders for specific locations.
- Health & Safety. Reduce workplace safety incidents and better manage personal protective equipment (PPE), training, medical monitoring, and work restrictions.
- Asset Management. Provide an integrated view of where to find key assets such as personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning supplies, and other equipment.
- Emergency Preparedness. Implement life-saving and general safety procedures by planning for potential future outbreaks and other disasters.
- Waste. Track and manage COVID-19 hazardous waste from point of generation to final disposition to mitigate errors, omissions, and accidents.
- Hazard Abatement. Protect employee health and minimize organizational liability by quickly and accurately locating, tracking, and abating hazardous materials.
- Compliance. Reduce the chance of virus spread and potential shutdowns that result from inadequate compliance practices.
- Condition Assessment. Evaluate the condition of critical assets and buildings, initiating remediation work where needed.
- Projects. Provide a central location for employees to manage COVID-related project details, including schedule tracking and budgeting.
Easily access the tools and technology you need
Whether you serve a government agency, healthcare facility, or public school, there are several options available to fund the technology you need to bring efficiency and clarity to today’s changing workplace. The American Rescue Plan has brought relief and security for the future to many organizations who request funding.
If this plan doesn’t cover what your public agency is looking for, there are still several federal and state contract vehicles that can help. Simplify the procurement process by purchasing Archibus through our valued partners found at the following links:
The world may still be recuperating from the effects of COVID-19, but your resilient organization is capable of returning to work stronger. Try a demo of SpaceIQ products to learn how you can safely reopen your workplace and boost your organization’s productivity.
Keep reading: What is a Smart IWMS and What are its Features?
By Dave Clifton
Especially in larger workplaces, it’s virtually impossible to keep tabs on every single facet of maintenance. Larger companies rely on employees to be their eyes and ears for emergent aspects of facility upkeep. Support ticketing and incident reporting unlock a new aspect of facilities maintenance: demand maintenance.
What is demand maintenance? It’s on-demand facilities maintenance that pairs prompt solutions with emergent problems. It’s the perfect way to augment a maintenance continuum that already includes preventive, reactive, and corrective maintenance. To work effectively, it requires a robust system of incident reporting and the means to respond to tickets submitted.
An overview of on-demand facilities maintenance
Demand maintenance consists of tasks performed out of necessity. These are issues that require reactive repair, and the best way to learn about them is through ticketing and reporting. Judith reports a problem with the standing desk at Workstation 044. Maurice submits a ticket about a parking lot pothole. These are problems that are emergent, but not urgent. They’re likely to go unresolved until someone reports them. When reported, it shows demand for service.
There’s also a planned component to demand maintenance, where applicable. Pest control, for example, is a form of demand maintenance. It’s best not to wait for a pest problem to generate demand. It also falls outside the realm of preventive maintenance, since there’s no guarantee of a pest problem by not treating for them. In such a case, there’s still demand for the service.
Demand maintenance needs a system to function
Demand maintenance only works if there’s a system to qualify demand and justify a solution. Companies need to rely on a software infrastructure—the likes of a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), or similar. It’s easy to program ticketing software to quickly categorize types of maintenance and assign them appropriately.
For example, the system might flag the words “elevator” and “broken” in a ticket, then mark that ticket as “specialized.” The in-house team will review and confirm, and schedule an elevator repair specialist. On the other hand, if the ticket is about something simple, it gets filed into the daily queue and assigned to a maintenance staff member.
The key in meeting demand maintenance is follow-through. A CMMS or other routing system is great for processing requests. But who’s filling those requests? It depends on the nature of the demand. There are two ways to approach facility maintenance on demand: in-house and outsourced. For most companies, the solution is a mixture of both.
Small, common problems are quick to address in-house, while specialized solutions may come from a vendor. It’s the difference between fixing a door and repairing an elevator. In many cases, an integrated facilities maintenance approach is the solution: a single-source provider that can act with agility.
How demand maintenance augments other maintenance
Demand maintenance is an agile form of maintenance that augments a broader facilities upkeep approach. It falls somewhere between corrective and reactive maintenance. It’s reactive in the sense of solving a problem that’s already happened, yet corrective in the sense that you can plan an on-demand solution and coordinate the best approach.
Demand maintenance also offers benefits that other forms of facility upkeep can’t. The simplest is employee ownership. When employees submit a ticket and see that problem resolved, they feel good about it. They vocalized a problem and saw action, which fosters a better culture. Employees are proud to help maintain their workplace and appreciate the ability of the company to listen to them and respond.
Flexibility is also important. It’s impossible to be proactive in every form of maintenance—yet, pure reactive maintenance might not be the best solution. Demand maintenance is an intermediary for businesses. And, with a CMMS to gather data about demand maintenance tasks, it’s possible to improve preventive and planned budgets, while optimizing responsiveness to reactive maintenance tasks.
Reap the benefits of on-demand solutions
Demand maintenance exists to safeguard against the unplanned and unanticipated. There’s no telling when the chair at Workstation 032 will break or if the refrigerator in the break room will suddenly die. These problems aren’t on a routine checklist and there might not be a corrective solution. Instead, these problems get resolved when they’re reported. It’s up to facilities managers to create a system for reporting them.
Demand maintenance is only as effective as it’s enabled to be. A robust reporting and ticketing system, budget allocations, and actionable solutions are what make it an integral part of total facilities maintenance.
Keep reading: Get Familiar with a Facility Maintenance Plan
By Devon Maresco
“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” It’s a phrase we’ve all heard before, and one that makes sense on the surface. It’s the mantra of corrective maintenance evangelists—people who believe in fixing problems as they arise, before they result in total failure. They’re not going to disrupt something that’s working fine, but they’re apt to spot inefficiencies and correct them before problems develop.
What is corrective maintenance and how does it differ from preventive or reactive maintenance? Think of it as an intermediary between the two: a way of fixing problems on-the-fly. In the scope of facilities maintenance, it’s a way to keep everything running as-intended, which allows companies to balance maintenance costs and avoid disrupting employees hard at work.
An overview of corrective maintenance
Corrective maintenance lives in the space between preventive maintenance and reactive maintenance. It’s about addressing small inefficiencies. Corrective maintenance looks at the factors that lead to failure and resolves them, to prevent the larger problem from forming. Think of it like getting an alignment for your car. Misalignment isn’t a problem per-say, but it can lead to all manner of them: everything from damaged tires to suspension issues.
Within the context of facility maintenance, there are ample opportunities for improved maintenance. Corrective maintenance seeks to use the clues from past problems as a means for preventing them in the future.
Examples of corrective maintenance
Corrective maintenance can occur at any scale. The process of vetting catalysts and preventing future problems isn’t limited by the size of a problem. Here are a couple of examples:
- The building’s furnace breaks down in the middle of a cold snap. During the course of repairs, the HVAC tech spots a severely clogged filter that likely contributed to the failure. He changes the filter and recommends cleaning it every three months.
- During a routine servicing of the copy machine, Cheryl notices a buildup of toner in the feed mechanism, which has been jamming lately. She clears it out and runs a few test pages to make sure it works fluidly. She adds “clean feed mechanism” to the SOP.
- Nassim works on the ninth floor. He hears a squeaking noise every day when the elevator doors open on his floor. He submits a support ticket. During the next routine elevator service, maintenance checks the ticket and adjusts the cable and pully to prevent duress.
These scenarios illustrate the core tenants of corrective maintenance. Each involves a catalyst, investigation, and a peripheral service that prevents a larger problem from developing. Because it goes hand-in-hand with preventive and reactive maintenance, it’s best used in conjunction with them, as part of a continuum of service excellence.
Preventive vs. corrective maintenance
What makes corrective maintenance different from a preventive approach? In many ways, correcting is a form of preventing. That said, preventive focuses more on routine maintenance and upkeep—items you can schedule. You schedule fire suppression system maintenance quarterly so that it’s always ready in the event of a fire, for example.
Preventive maintenance comes with fixed costs that you can anticipate. Corrective solutions aren’t typically budgeted, but fall under discretionary maintenance spending. And, perhaps the biggest difference is that preventive maintenance anticipates problems; corrective maintenance mitigates them.
Reactive vs. corrective maintenance
By the time you get to reactive maintenance, a problem has already occurred. Nevertheless, reactive maintenance serves as a foundation for corrective maintenance. Why did the problem occur and what can we do to prevent a similar situation in the future? A reactive approach isn’t necessarily a bad one—it depends on context. For example, you wouldn’t change a lightbulb before it dies as a form of preventive maintenance.
Corrective maintenance is a way of ensuring reactive maintenance doesn’t keep happening. Learning from problems and addressing their catalysts is the corrective mindset at work. And while reactive maintenance works for some things, corrective action needs to follow it where a preventive approach might be possible.
When does corrective maintenance make sense?
Corrective maintenance is just one mode of maintenance in a broader strategy that includes preventive and reactive. It’s important to know where and when to apply it vs. other modalities.
Consider something like a plumbing leak in this context. Preventive doesn’t make sense: you wouldn’t replace a component that appears to work perfectly. Reactive is too late: if the leak goes unaddressed and the system fails, it’s a major disruption. Corrective maintenance is the right approach: a specific solution to an inefficiency.
Facility maintenance leaders need to understand the role of corrective maintenance and how it factors into a more complete strategy. Executed effectively, it plays a critical role in keeping facilities chugging along smoothly from day to day.
Keep reading: What is Facilities Maintenance Support Services?
If you could prevent a headache from happening, wouldn’t you? Practically speaking, you can if you engage in preventive maintenance. Rather than waiting for something to break, companies are better off adopting a proactive mindset when it comes to facilities upkeep, improvements, and repairs. The benefits of facility preventive maintenance speak for themselves in not only headaches avoided but costs saved, liability prevented, and the continued status quo of the workplace.
It’s easy to see preventive maintenance as “jumping the gun” or fixing something before it needs repairs. The fact is, a well-calculated approach to preventive maintenance can undercut problems before they begin. Done right, it’s the perfect approach to asset management: planned intervention just before failure to create sustainable continuity.
What is facility preventive maintenance?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to maintenance of any kind: preventive vs. reactive. Preventive is a focus on solving problems before they require a solution; reactive waits for the problem to manifest before solving it.
In the context of facility maintenance, preventive simply means getting ahead of facility upkeep before it deteriorates to the point of affecting employees and productivity. As a very basic example, it might mean emptying all garbage cans every day to prevent accumulation, as opposed to waiting for the bin to get full, then emptying it. This simple concept applies to every part of facilities, from garbage cans to capital systems like plumbing and HVAC.
Buildings and their many subsystems need maintenance. Choosing a protective approach means getting ahead of maintenance before it erupts into problems.
The benefits of facility preventive maintenance
A preventive maintenance plan is complex to orchestrate but hugely beneficial when up and running. It can be the difference between waiting for a problem to erupt and preventing that problem from ever arising. That means reaping all the benefits that come from not needing to remediate an issue. Time spent not fixing something is time better spent being productive. Here’s a look at what this means in the context of facility preventive maintenance:
- Better asset management. When assets like the copy machine, your server stack, or an elevator break down, they’re not usable. Preventive maintenance keeps vital assets up and running, so they can continue to serve productive uses—including facilities themselves.
- Reduced liability. If something breaks down and becomes a hazard, it puts employee safety at risk. Fixing the leaky sink before it develops a pool of water and someone slips is a simple example of how preventive maintenance leads to reduced liability.
- Improved cost control. It doesn’t take an expert to realize that the cost of preventive repairs is often much less than the cost of reactive service. Repairing before a cascade of problems is a smart way to save money on future preventable issues.
- More accurate cost planning. Preventive repairs are accounted for. That means knowing ahead of time what the rough cost of service will be. Instead of waiting for a cost-inducing event, preventing maintenance enables better budgeting to preempt costs.
- Better maintenance allocation. Planning for maintenance is also a great way to keep in-house craftspeople staffed accordingly. It prevents a deluge of work orders and instead, strings out routine maintenance and repairs over a more manageable timeline.
- Streamlined facility services. As items come up for preventive maintenance, it becomes easier to assess peripheral systems and check upcoming logs. This promotes holistic facilities services that prevent even more troubles from arising unabated.
- Improved company morale. It a small, yet meaningful benefit. When the workplace functions without problem, employees feel more welcome and at home in it. Reactive maintenance leaves employees waiting to use amenities they expect to be available.
- Accurate facility oversight. Preventive maintenance means always knowing the status of facilities. What’s due for service? What’s recently been serviced? Are there pending issues to resolve? A preventive maintenance stance is part of proactive facilities management.
Preventing a problem always trumps remediating it after its already occurred. Facility managers who take a proactive stance against maintenance issues will reap the many benefits of facilities that work as expected and in a way that supports the activities within them. Whether it’s changing a lightbulb or scheduling HVAC cleaning, every small proactive step adds up to cumulative benefits.
Get ahead of problems, before they become problems
The benefits of implementing facility preventive maintenance show up in so many different ways. Fewer unexpected costs and better budgeting of facility upkeep. Better utilization and ROI from facilities. Enhanced employee safety and reduced liability. All this and more from the decision to prevent problems, instead of being content to fix them.
Companies that choose preventive maintenance will find that their facilities and everything in them run smoother on a day-to-day basis. Fewer headaches mean fewer problems, which promotes productivity and efficiency. It’s an investment in maintaining the status quo and choosing to contend with fewer disruptions to the workplace.
By Nick Stefanidakis
General Manager, Archibus
As COVID-19 has shown us, predicting the future is a coin flip. Early on, people thought the virus would last a few weeks. No one believed we’d still be wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, and awaiting vaccines more than a year later.
Businesses also could not foresee the impact shutdowns and health mandates would have on productivity, operations, and facility maintenance. That included the upkeep of assets such as networks, computers, lighting, HVAC, furniture, and other items that make up a modern workplace.
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s the importance of a solid preventive maintenance plan for both everyday operations and crises. Staying ahead of issues not only saves valuable budget, but also helps ensure your workplace is ready to welcome employees back if a shutdown occurs.
Defining Preventive Maintenance
Preventive maintenance is essential to keep buildings and assets in optimal condition. Whether large or small, single location or global offices, all workplaces contain components that need to be regularly maintained and updated.
Assets are among an organization’s highest expenditure. According to a report by Aberdeen, a global B2B behavioral marketing firm, the cost for one hour of business downtime grew from $260,000 in 2014 to $492,000 in 2016. That number is likely much higher today.
Unlike corrective maintenance – an on-demand service to correct a specific issue at an unforeseen time – preventive maintenance is predictable. Tasks performed at regular intervals, such as periodic maintenance, scheduled inspections, cleaning, and updates, can extend asset life, improve conditions, and make corrective maintenance less frequent and/or costly.
That can mean significant time and money savings for organizations with limited budgets and resources. Mount Royal University (MRU), one of Canada’s top destinations for undergraduate studies, automated its preventive maintenance with Archibus after corrective support tickets grew from 3,000 in 2012 to more than 14,000 in 2020. Before, facilities staff spent hours manually creating maintenance reports.
“We didn’t have single source of truth when it came to generating reports,” said Jason Philipchuk, MRU Archibus Technology Support Analyst. “With Archibus, we improved our equipment inventory to ensure assets needing preventive maintenance were scheduled and given a means to track asset life cycle. That way, we keep our craftspeople out in the field and not in office working on reports.”
Three Steps to Preventive Maintenance
To develop an effective workplace preventive maintenance routine, three steps are essential. They include taking inventory, developing maintenance procedures, and establishing critical priorities.
- Take Stock of Your Assets
Without an inventory of assets, it’s impossible to set an effective preventive maintenance schedule. A comprehensive inventory accounts for all assets in need of regular maintenance. These include facility-related assets, personal equipment, and information management infrastructure. While determining what you have, gather information and relevant documents about each asset – age, maintenance procedure by manufacturer, history, upgrade dates, and technical diagrams.
A great place to start is taking a holistic look at your facilities supporting systems like HVAC, plumbing, lighting, electrical, and emergency equipment and what’s inside or attached to them. Refer to architectural drawings or space plans to locate everything on the list.
If necessary, your information management inventory should include all personal items like desktops, laptops, printers, copiers, and other IT equipment, including equipment used by remote employees.
- Establish Maintenance Procedures and Timetable
With your asset inventory in hand, it’s time to design a specific preventive procedure for each asset by standard or individually. The procedure should be based on manufacturers’ recommendations; however, some will be augmented to support more robust activities due to COVID-19 or other considerations.
Once completed, use manufacturer or company standards to set a regular preventive maintenance schedule. Ask yourself all the necessary questions that will assist your scheduling process:
- Is the procedure concurrent?
- At what frequency?
- Do assets require different procedures at different times?
- Do I have the right personnel to do the work as required? Should I consider outsourcing?
Next, you’ll need to determine the internal workflow that governs maintenance work orders. Evaluate maintenance budgets, resource allocation, work order issuance and approval, workload, and invoice payments.
When resources are scarce, you may lack the capacity to stay on an asset maintenance schedule. Determining your critical priorities for preventive maintenance is not an exact science. Although these decisions can be subjective, it’s important to prioritize what matters most, particularly when your business is affected by crises like COVID-19 that alter typical routines.
Cost is an additional factor in determining service priorities. Facilities managers should consider the cost of both regular maintenance and repairs/replacements. If a piece of equipment is out of order, how long will it be out of commission? How many employees will be unable to perform their jobs and for how long? What does it cost in lost productivity?
Keep Preventive Maintenance Plans Flexible
The COVID-19 pandemic upended some typically predictable routines. Though some maintenance should be consistent, the pandemic affected each workplace differently, sometimes even from one week to the next. Some assets require scheduled maintenance, no matter who is or isn’t in the office. Other preventive maintenance plans substantially change based on how COVID-19 or other crises impacts staffing, production, and customer service.
Due to COVID-19, workspace maintenance may not seem to be as pressing of an issue right now. But neglecting preventive maintenance can have expensive, long-term consequences. The routines themselves may change, but consistency is still important. Your preventive maintenance plan should be flexible enough to allow for necessary adjustments without completely disrupting traditional routines.
Flexibility is even more important as employees who have been working remotely come back to work. Facilities managers must balance the needs of on-site workers with those still working from home.
Benjamin Franklin’s famously said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” to promote better fire safety in the 1770s. That idiom holds true today as businesses face “fires” daily. Taking the steps to mitigate damage is smart space and facility management. Preventive maintenance strategies can be one of your greatest protection now and into the future.
Keep reading: What is Facilities Maintenance Support Services?
By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
Cleanliness and hygiene are on everyone’s mind as coronavirus concerns persist in national headlines. Even though local economies have begun to open up, people are still concerned about exposure and infection. This is especially true in the workplace. It’s impossible for employees to feel comfortable and productive if they’re constantly concerned about an unseen virus lurking around them. Employers need to step up their COVID-19 office cleaning plan to quell fears and create confidence in their workforce.
Many workplaces implemented special cleaning protocols during the height of COVID-19 or before employees returned to work. This isn’t enough. The workplace needs cleanings in increased frequency and intensity, specific to concerns about COVID-19. Take a hard look at your current facility cleaning practices and measure them against coronavirus concerns.
How long can coronavirus live on surfaces?
COVID-19 is commonly transmitted via airborne droplet particles—coughs and sneezes. But the virus is resilient and can live on surfaces for varying lengths of time. For example, one study found that it can survive for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic surfaces. When you consider lingering surface particles, facility disinfection protocols become paramount.
Consider the types of common surfaces in your facilities and the potential for coronavirus to linger on them. At a minimum, clean these surfaces regularly with disinfectant. Encourage employees to wipe them down when they’re done using the space, as well.
What kills coronavirus?
The severity of COVID-19 as an infection is scary. Thankfully, the eradication of surface remnants of the virus isn’t any more difficult than addressing most general germs. Most office cleaning and disinfecting products will do the trick—including cleaning wipes that contain more than 70% alcohol content.
Cleaning wipes aren’t a practical use beyond spot cleaning for common surfaces. To kill COVID-19 broadly over large areas requires comprehensive cleaning or use of methods like electrostatic fogging. Fogging is ironically similar to how coronavirus spreads—a cleaning technician mists the area with an antimicrobial spray that’s electrostatically charged to kill viruses and bacteria on contact.
Finally, there’s always good old soap and water. In a pinch, most hand soaps and dish soaps will kill the virus. This isn’t generally applicable in a workplace, but it works in break rooms and bathrooms.
Increase your janitorial services
Workplace readiness for preventing the spread of COVID-19 can be as simple as stepping up what you’re already doing. If you have a janitorial service that comes once per week, for example, consider scheduling bi-weekly cleanings to keep on top of a sanitary environment.
Additionally, this is also a good time to investigate deep cleaning opportunities or new cleaning methods, like electrostatic fogging. How you clean matters as much (or more) than what you clean. The occasional deep clean or fogging will make the workplace feel brand-new and give employees a real sense of confidence in your efforts to provide a clean, sanitary workplace.
Make employees responsible for their space
Every office cleaning plan needs a focus on employee accountability. While it’s your duty as an employee to provide a clean, safe, comfortable workplace, it’s the duty of employees to keep it that way. It’s far from unreasonable to ask employees to throw away garbage and clean up after they’re done with a space. It’s also important to encourage good hygiene and sanitary practices in personal and shared spaces.
If you want employees to care for the workplace, make it easy. Place garbage and recycling bins in common and accessible areas. Leave sanitary wipes and disinfectant out and easy to grab. Post signage to remind people to be courteous about how they leave their space. Make it easy to request more paper towel or file a maintenance request to fix the soap dispenser. All these small, insignificant actions give employees the incentive and the means to clean the office as they use it.
Evaluate your standards for a clean workplace
The cleanliness of your workplace plays a tremendous role in how employees adapt post-COVID-19. If they feel comfortable in surroundings that feel clean, they’ll face fewer obstacles as they ease back into work. They’ll do better work and feel good about your organization’s emphasis on cleanliness. There are even culture implications—employees feel prouder and more connected to a workplace that’s well-kept and maintained to a superior standard.
Evaluate your current workplace cleaning and maintenance standards and make sure they address coronavirus-specific concerns. Adapt to ease employee worries—whether it’s more frequent cleanings, specific disinfection practices, or new policies to promote workplace cleanliness.
Keep reading: Coronavirus Workplace Resources