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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Feeling Poorly? Maybe It’s Your Efficient Space Plan

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but it may not be the healthiest way to go. Australian insurance company Medibank constructed an office building that is, in many ways, spatially inefficient – all for the good of its employees.

Medibank and architecture firm Hassell theorized that inefficient spaces would force employees into physical movement. In the new building, a meandering office plan wrapped around an atrium, and in the atrium was a spiderweb of linked staircases. To have face-to-face interactions or retrieve documents, employees had to take many more steps than they would have in a typical office – a FitBit user’s dream.

A flexible mix of collaborative areas and private workspaces promotes mental well-being, another important aspect of the balanced healthy design. Hassell’s principal designer Rob Backhouse says they sought balance throughout the design, recognizing that there are certain efficiencies that are vital for the smooth operation of any business. And adding inefficiencies to space plans doesn’t have to mean higher real estate costs. Super-efficient high-density storage can actually reduce the overall footprint, making an inefficient space plan easier on the budget in every way.

After two years of being design guinea pigs, Medibank’s employees were surveyed, and the results were encouraging: 79 per cent said their new building made them feel more collaborative, 70 per cent felt healthier and 66 per cent felt more productive. Balancing efficiency and inefficiency turns out to be a surprisingly beneficial design choice. Learn more in this video: https://youtu.be/sBNzye_WwPg


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The Adaptive Office: Remember The Humans

Business owners and facilities managers are embracing the benefits of new flexible workspaces – maximized space utilization, minimized build-out costs – but for many workers, changing the old office environment may be an unwelcome update. Without an enthusiastic majority eager for change, facilities professionals will find it hard to implement any meaningful transformation. How can you get your fellow employees to buy in?

We humans are notoriously resistant to change. We fear the unknown. Facilities managers will find it much easier to allay people’s fears and reap the benefits of the adaptive office if they adopt these three management roles recommended by John T. Anderson:

  • The Business Strategist – “What is our overall business strategy, both outward facing (clients and recruitment) and inward facing (productivity, continuous improvement, and retention)? How do our people support the business, and how does the facility support our people?”
  • The Information Specialist – “What does the data show about the way people work together? How do we position people and departments so they interact smoothly and efficiently?”
  • The Marketing Communicator – “What is the best way to communicate with my target market – the employees – and how do I make sure they feel their voices are heard and their needs are addressed?”

Facilities professionals are accustomed to managing the built environment, and may not always think in terms of managing people. But when change is on the horizon, a personnel-management perspective will make the transition a successful one. Reach out to a designer who specializes in the adaptive workplace to get more information on making your change a positive one.


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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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Want to Succeed in Business? Get Happy.

The U.S.A. is arguably the No. 1 best place on earth, but we rank 11th in happiness compared to the rest of the world. Prosperity is one of the primary components of overall happiness, according to Forbes Magazine. Even though economic indicators show us recovering well after the Great Recession, we still seem to think that we’re not prospering…and we’re not happy.

“Think” is the key word here – and writer Eric Barker says our brains control our happiness far more than we might imagine. It seems we recall any given event as having just two parts: the emotional peak, and the end. If the end is happy, the entire event is viewed positively. (Think about any movie you’ve seen.)

Barker proposes structuring your work days to end on a high note, and lists seven tactics to help you achieve this:

  1. Have a “shut-down” ritual – a routine that tells your brain to move out of work mode and into relaxation mode.
  2. Spend week-night time, not just weekends, with family and friends.
  3. Master something – work on a hobby, take a class, practice a musical instrument.
  4. Dim the lights an hour before bedtime and avoid e-devices as much as possible; this will get your brain into sleep mode.
  5. Write down the good things that happened that day.
  6. Don’t go to bed angry with your partner – and don’t stay up late and fight.
  7. Schedule something to look forward to. The anticipation of fun doubles the happiness.

Increasing your happiness quotient will have a remarkable effect on your business life. You’ll perceive yourself and your business as prosperous and successful. And as we all know, perception is reality.


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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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The Cost of Assault – Are Your Employees At Risk?

New York’s hotels became the target of negative press and unwanted legislative attention after the notorious 2011 assault on a hotel employee by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, then head of the International Monetary Fund. Despite the questionable outcome of that case, hotels in the Big Apple, Toronto, and other major cities wised up to the fact that their employees risk assault from irate, predatory, or unbalanced customers, and security cameras can’t cover every inch of a facility.

With costly employee assault claims on the rise, a number of New York hotels have turned to an RFID solution: a medic-alert type of emergency pendant that alerts hotel security and identifies the employee’s location. Some systems are tied in to security cameras, allowing security personnel to instantly view the cameras closest to the emergency site. A recent story in RFID Journal discusses the trend.

Other industries such as mining and healthcare are beginning to adopt RFID emergency locators, with the enthusiastic support of risk managers and legal advisors. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention…

Can your business benefit from an RFID risk reduction program?


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Know Thyself! Is Telecommuting Right For Your Business?

The new year is a good time to pause for reflection, a time for business owners and managers to consider the best use of resources, whether human or facilities. For companies considering starting or expanding a telecommuting plan, self-knowledge is the key to successful telecommuting, according to Forbes contributor Meghan M. Biro. Some personalities are more productive in a group; others work better alone. Some jobs can happen anywhere; others require office space. A thorough assessment of your corporate culture and your employees will tell you whether telecommuting is killing your business (as Yahoo’s Marissa Meyers determined) or whether it can help you retain your best employees, motivate new hires, save office space costs, and make your business thrive. Read the full story at http://onforb.es/1BdO12W.

And while you’re contemplating the pros and cons of telecommuting, think about the physical equipment needed to support employees’ work. Can high-density storage, reconfigurable modular cabinetry, and mobile workbenches and work spaces help support your 2015 telecommuting plan?


Got questions? We’ve got answers…


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