6 Ways to Build Your Facilities Management Legacy

Facilities management departments do a lot of planning. Maintenance schedules, office moves, seasonal tasks – the list is endless. Planning for FM personnel succession is often low on the priority list, but a change in a key position can disrupt all the other carefully-crafted facilities plans. Writing in FacilitiesNet.com, David Lewellen offers 6 strategies for developing FM teams and planning for succession.

  1. Think strategically – evaluate the talent pool, identify training or experience gaps in likely successors, and get the right players in the right positions.
  2. Develop a structure – create advancement opportunities, set up training programs, and identify potential leaders.
  3. Open doors to the future – systematically encourage professional development and cross-training as well as education outside the organization.
  4. Don’t wait – the baby boom generation has reached retirement age, and now is the time to develop replacement talent before all that accumulated management wisdom leaves.
  5. Understand new demands – facilities management becomes more multi-disciplinary every year, and technical expertise must be combined with solid business and people skills.
  6. Don’t forget the trades – as skilled tradespeople become ever-more scarce, look to ex-military personnel for experienced techs, and develop training programs for unskilled workers.

Facilities management has evolved as a profession, and organizations are recognizing the value that a strong, stable FM department brings to the success of overall operations. A sound succession plan adds to that value and ensures the future of the department.

 

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Facilities Manager or Hostage Negotiator

“Shark Tank” uber-shark Kevin O’Leary said it: “So much of life is a negotiation.” Perhaps you chose a career in facilities management because you’re more comfortable dealing with buildings than with people. But buildings house people, and sooner or later, any facilities manager is going to have to deal with the human factor. Whether you’re discussing the acquisition of a secure high density storage system or simply trying to change a few light bulbs in someone’s office, you can find yourself facing a hostile personality. How do you negotiate to get what you need while keeping everyone happy?

Consultant Andy Raskin recommends getting the contentious parties to the point of “that’s right.” He cites the work of former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss, who ran high-profile negotiations in hot spots like Iraq and Colombia. Voss is particularly skilled at active listening – reflecting back a speaker’s words to create affirmation and stimulate them to continue the dialogue. Voss found that when active listeners acknowledged the emotions underlying their opponent’s position, the hardliners felt that their concerns had been heard and understood – a “that’s right” moment. And from that point of respect and understanding, negotiations could be resolved easily.

It’s a technique that works in business life as well as international relations. The next time you’re facing a difficult negotiation, try the active listening style Andy Raskin discusses in his Medium blog. You may find that your proposal is swiftly granted.

 

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Keep Your (Workplace) Options Open

Choice – it’s what employees want in their workplace environments. Businesses that build flexibility into the workplace are able to hire and retain top talent, and keep productivity at a high level. Choices can take a variety of forms, from flex hours to telecommuting to benefits. Offering tangible choices is a big part of the equation, too; creating a physical workplace that people are happy to come to on a Monday morning is every bit as important as a good 401K.

Old-school cube farms and new-style open plans can both be inflexible in their own ways. By using well-designed modular casework and reconfigurable workspaces, facilities managers can easily add choices to office environments, creating an adaptable balance between open and closed workspaces. Modular, reconfigurable workspaces are re-arranged as choices shift. Work “zones” for privacy or collaboration let employees choose which kind of environment they need for maximum productivity at any given time.

Writing in Facilities.Net, Naomi Millan states, “space is not a one-size fits all proposition.” In the choice-oriented workplace, the commitment is to employees, not to the built environment. The result is a happy, productive team and a successful business.

How are you adding flexibility to your workplace? Share your story with us, and we’ll share some insider tips we’ve learned from our experience as storage consultants.

 

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Still Using Paper in Your Business? Manage the Risks

In the mid-90’s, management experts predicted the end of paper. Twenty years later, we’re using more paper than ever. Do paper files put your business at risk?

The American Forest and Paper Association cites a number of reasons for the continued demand for paper documents:

  • No paper document has ever been hacked by a computer virus.
  • Paper documents are readable without electricity or internet service.
  • Without ongoing maintenance, digital storage media degrades much faster than well-stored paper (the oldest papyrus in existence dates to 2600 B.C.).

While there are indisputably good reasons for continuing to use paper, there are also risks. Medical records, legal strategies, proprietary business documents – if not securely stored, these papers can create some serious problems for your business, as discussed by Eric Savitz in this story for Forbes Magazine.

With a well-designed high density storage system, you can have your paper and save on space too – the best of both worlds. Consult with your storage professional to learn how it’s done.

 

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Deadline: Enter The Oscars of FM

It’s time for facilities management professionals to take center stage. Your work is vital to the smooth functioning of office buildings, hospitals, government facilities, military installations, retail operations, colleges and universities, and countless other public and private buildings and campuses. The general public rarely thinks about what it really takes to keep these facilities up and running, but your peers at Facilities Maintenance Decisions want to recognize you for your outstanding work. Entries for the 2016 FMD Achievement Awards are open, and the deadline is May 26, 2016. Submit your best work for consideration, and let the world know how essential you really are. It’s the Oscars of facilities management!

Green Office Case Study: Cisco

The statistics are surprising: commercial buildings account for 60% of U.S. electrical consumption, 30% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and 136 million tons of U.S. construction/demolition waste (U.S. Green Buildings Council). As the American economy continues to shift to office-oriented services housed in commercial buildings, builders and users are searching for ways to reduce these environmentally unfriendly numbers, and fulfill the promise of sustainability – a healthier environment and a healthier economy.

Technology leader Cisco, committed to “greening” its business, tested a sustainable real estate strategy in its San Jose, California, offices. Their facilities managers realized that traditional offices are often vacant 65% of the time, while meeting rooms were often overbooked. This usage imbalance was not just wasteful of energy, but also in terms of real estate costs. Cisco developed an initiative, The Connected Workplace, to house more people in less space. The number of individual workspaces was greatly reduced and collaborative spaces were increased. Electronic equipment – copiers, desktop computers, LANs – was consolidated and reduced.

Mobility and flexible space utilization became the foundation of Cisco’s Connected Workplace design. Quoting Cisco’s vice president of Global Work Place Resources and Enterprise Risk Management, Christina S. Kite, “A properly designed workplace requires less building infrastructure, which takes up less space, produces less heat, and consumes less power than traditional workplaces-while supporting employees more effectively.” The results of the Connected Workplace, released in a public case study, give any business a powerful reason to make its commercial spaces more efficient and sustainable with high density storage and adaptable mobile and modular workspaces.

 

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You May Think You’re a Facilities Manager, But…

No matter what your job description is, you’re in sales. Sure, you studied construction management or engineering, but if you’re a facilities manager, sooner or later you’ll find yourself selling a proposal to the people who sign off on your budget.

Some sales are easier than others. An impressive new building or a news-worthy green initiative gives your bosses a chance to shine in the public eye. It’s tougher to get funding for less visible, tangible projects. Writing in Facilities Maintenance Decisions, Dan Hounsell suggests creating a “marketing plan” for your low-profile projects. He offers 4 starting points for creating such a plan, using the example of one of the least glamorous aspects of FM: deferred maintenance.

Hounsell recommends emphasizing (1) long-term cost savings; (2) sustainability; (3) job creation/retention; and (4) responsible management. Cost savings in particular can be a deciding factor, and a well-presented case for “spend a little now, save a lot later” can produce a quick approval.

These selling points are effective for any proposed expenditures that lack a “glam factor,” such as better spare parts management, or (dare we say) new storage systems. Give this marketing plan a try on your next budget request, and let us know the results!

 

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Planning for the “Next-Gen” Lab

As science and technology advance, research facilities are having to decide how they will adapt – do they have the built-in flexibility to modify their laboratories, or will they have to do a top-to-bottom redesign? Writing in Lab Design News, Jeffrey R. Zynda, describes a “next generation” laboratory, one that is reconfigurable to meet the increasing need for computational research, as well as promoting the well-being of researchers themselves through social, collaborative environments.

A flexibility plan is essential to an effective next-gen lab. Reconfigurable casework and movable benches are a good step toward flexibility, as Greg Muth discusses in “Flexibility – It Takes A Plan.” Without good planning, however, the flexibility rarely lives up to the expectations.

Muth notes that a good flexibility plan defines who modifies the space – the users, the maintenance staff, or an outside vendor – and how long the modifications will take. He points to the example of Genentech, who developed “SWAT teams” of contractors who know the casework systems well and can make frequent modifications quickly and easily.

Creating a sound plan with the assistance of a knowledgeable vendor will help next-gen labs maintain their usefulness for years to come.

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Your Cell Phone Is Zapping Your Self-Worth

“Ergonomics” is a term often used to describe the posture-supporting comfort of a desk chair or a driver’s seat. Your posture certainly plays an important role in your health and productivity, but it seems that posture also has a significant effect on your attitude. The right chair will keep you productive all day, but other productivity devices – iPhones and laptops – may be slowly destroying your confidence and self-worth. Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, writing in the New York Times, says, “Your physical posture sculpts your psychological posture.” When we hunch over our cell phones or laptops, we are mimicking the look of a depressed, insecure, unassertive person.

Cuddy points to one study in which people sat in either a slouched position or an upright position while they answered questions in a mock job interview. The slouchers reported a high degree of fear and a feeling of low self-esteem, compared to the subjects who sat upright. Another study showed poor memory retention in subjects who were hunched over.

Apparently good posture leads to good self-esteem. Imagine that: feeling assertive just because your desk keeps you from slumping over your laptop – Swiftspace’s Shape, for example. And now imagine your entire team feeling assertive and productive. Could good posture be one of the keys to a successful business?

 

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4 Reasons Why Startups Should Care About Office Space

Is this you? You’re bootstrapping your startup. You and your team are working out of your studio apartment. You hold client meetings at a nearby Starbucks. The business is starting to take off, and you have no time to sleep, eat, or shower. Finding the right office space is not even on your radar. But it should be, and here’s why.

Writing for Inc. Magazine, entrepreneur Michael Alter explains that he’s learned the hard way how office space functions to support business growth. He lists three vital points:

1.  Your office space demonstrates that you appreciate and support your team; they in turn feel pride and loyalty to you and the business.

2.  The competition for top talent is fierce, and you need to attract and hire the very best; your office space is part of the corporate culture you offer prospective employees.

3.  Office space and layout determines how your teams work together and share information; it’s at the heart of business productivity.

And there’s a fourth reason: In your outward-facing interactions, your office space reinforces your brand. It tells your clients and your business partners who you are, and it underlines your commitment to success.

Your office space defines your office culture, your productivity, and your corporate brand. If your current workspace isn’t doing all of the above, maybe it’s time for your business to make a move.

 

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