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Understanding counter-terrorism best practices for effective facilities management

Exit, sign,

Counter-terrorism plays a very big role in the security and safety of a 21st-century facility and continues to be a priority commitment for staff in facilities management. With anybody a target in this modern society, there are so many potential threats to security. As such, implementing best practices for effectively preventing hate crimes is vital to any place of work.

Knowing the Risks

First and foremost, to be sure of staying compliant with safety and security systems, the head of facilities management should be aware of and be able to recognise the risks so that they can put all of the necessary measures in place. This will be different for each and every property and business type. For example, a small surveyor's office in the suburbs might need a different security system to a governmental headquarters based in a big city like the capital.

That said, effective risk assessment will take into consideration the methods of recruiting new employees and carrying out background checks, as well as welcoming visitors and maintaining the flow of customers or other individuals, like delivery drivers, entering and leaving the building. Therefore, any occupied building presents a challenge. Technology is currently an effective preventative measure thanks to many recent advancements, but basic best practices and relying on the intuition of staff are still key.

Planning and Communicating

It is vital for facilities management employees to have a plan of action in place to respond to certain situation, no matter how extreme and rare. However, what's just as important is communicating these expectations and requirements to the rest of the occupants - even the visitors. Fire safety information should be displayed around the building, and those arriving on site should have an idea of what to do in the event of an emergency.

Mass Notification Systems, or MNS, are available for larger facilities and help to spread the word about an imminent threat and allow leaders to take charge with overall direction of the premises and those within it. These are particularly useful for buildings with multiple departments spread across many floors or properties with cafes or big communal areas.

Prioritising and Coordinating

While maintenance isn't always seen as a priority, some regular maintenance is required to ensure that a building performs in the way it should when targeted by a terrorist attack, whether that is arson or another type of threat. Fire safety is highly important, and all systems should be thoroughly and regularly tested to make sure that they meet regulations. This includes having third-party companies come to conduct tests on equipment and how they function in the event of a critical emergency.

In addition, by coordinating with local fire, security and law enforcement bodies, like the fire service community police and the local government, facilities management teams can learn from their expertise and use this to implement better security measures that are more appropriate to the local area. In the event of an emergency, it is so important for everyone to work together in harmony, including these outside organisations who have the potential to respond to issues and help ensure the safety of a building's occupants.

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Three best practices all FM managers should know

Those working in the facilities management sector are there to facilitate the operational needs of a building's infrastructure. As such, efficiency is key to any facilities manager's management approach. Here are three best practices that all FM managers should be driven by, in order to deliver optimum benefits for their organisation.

Make the small things count

A key aspect of facilities management is consistency, so, to ensure that all managed systems are always working at their best and most efficient, one should ensure that small modifications are put in place to generate a big impact. This means, as an example, installing flex valves in toilets to cut down on water usage, switching all light bulbs to energy-efficient LEDs and supplying hot water dispensers to office spaces to reduce electricity bills from boiling kettles throughout the working day.

Managers should be relentless in their efforts to champion efficiency, encouraging changes to daily routines no matter how minor they seem (switching lights off when leaving a room unoccupied, for instance) and turning these into habits across the entire team, as it is these small things that make a difference. Not only should the facilities team itself abide by these rules, it should be promoting these actions to all of the building's residents so that, collectively, they can actively save money and energy.

Think ahead

It is no good only being a responsive team, you should be striving to prevent breakages and losses of service well before they occur. For example, if you know that relatively cheap pieces of equipment need replacing, but decide to put this task to one side for budgetary reasons or because other projects take priority over them, you could wind up paying significantly more in maintenance fees should a problem then occur. Think proactively and aim to protect your contents as an investment measure, thus reducing unnecessary costs in the long run. If you knew that there was an accident just waiting to happen and did nothing about it, you would kick yourself if it ever did happen, and could potentially be held responsible and liable for a warning or worse.

Take note of analytics

In this modern day, we are lucky enough to have technology to provide us with vast amounts of useful data. Facilities managers should use this valuable information to their advantage by logging maintenance schedules, creating checklists, monitoring track logs and much, much more.

The key is to first find a piece of software that is right for your company, so that you can customise and centralise all of your systems effectively. While software can be a costly expenditure, you will often save the money elsewhere. It also provides value to your clients too, because its reports can generate facts and details that will benefit them. For example, the software can be used to help notify them when planned maintenance is due to take place (particularly useful if there will be interruptions to their networks) and can be very influential in maximising all of their systems financially and environmentally.

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How to succeed at your video interview

If you thought that telephone interviews were your worst nightmare, then consider what it is like to be interviewed over a video call! With so many things to think about, a video interview can feel more pressured than a normal face-to-face meeting. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your facilities management video job interview.

Choose a location where you won't be disturbed

As with a telephone interview, you must choose a time and a place that will give you the opportunity to speak freely. For instance, don't participate in a video interview on your existing work premises, and don’t set yourself up for the discussion in a busy cafe or a shared apartment, as you simply cannot predict noise levels and disturbances. The best place to be during your video interview is in your own space, where you can feel at ease and can be comfortable talking about yourself, facilities management and the role expected of you.

Be aware of your surroundings

Following on from the first point, do a practice run first, to check that you don't have anything on display within the frame that you shouldn't, like dirty cups or laundry, or even offensive posters. If you want the panel to think you are neat and organised, then your surroundings should reflect this. Be sure to position yourself near a light too, so that, if the interview takes place in the afternoon, you can adjust the lighting and won't end up in complete darkness. While you may prefer your face to be blurred by darkness, the panel do actually want to see eye contact and your expressions, just as they would in a face to face situation.

Dress appropriately for an interview

Not only should you prep your surroundings, you should also prep yourself. Just because you are not going to their offices does not mean you shouldn't make the effort to dress smartly. The interviewer does not want to see you dressed in your loungewear, as this gives a negative vibe. Also, don’t be tempted to simply team your joggers with a shirt because you don't think they will notice. What if, for example, you realise that you need something at the other side of the room and must stand up?

Check all your devices works

Although this has been left until last, it is actually one of the most important points to take away. If you've never used the audio function on your laptop or desktop before, make sure that you check it prior to the interview, leaving you enough time to get a technician's advice, if necessary. Similarly, even if you regularly use Skype, make sure that your camera is connected and that your WiFi is on. Ensure that the position of your camera is appropriate, and hasn't slipped to an embarrassing angle for all. Male or female, it isn't really an ideal situation to have a prospective employer forced to look at anything other than your face on your first meeting!

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How to get ahead in your facilities management career

Facilities management (FM) may not be everyone's dream career, but even those who fall into the sector by accident often discover that there are actually many fantastic opportunities for career progression, as well as a great deal of enjoyment to be had from the roles. As such, more and more people are being attracted to the industry, including millennials, and the sector is welcoming them with brand new apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships helping to shape futures

From October, over 50 higher level apprenticeships will be made available in an attempt to attract youngsters to FM as a career, and this is intended to build a younger and fresher workforce (which, at present, is predominantly made up of male workers, aged over 35). More apprenticeships will then be made available in the following March, bringing the total up to over 200 new openings.

The £1m investment will help to create a clear professional path into the industry, instead of the more common approach, which is for individuals to stumble across roles. The apprenticeships themselves will give young professionals an opportunity to gain a degree-level qualification and the skills required to enter the public sector.

Creating a true path into facilities management

As previously touched upon, many facilities managers would admit that they didn't go on the search for that career, but they probably wouldn't change their job for the world. Yet, there wasn't previously a set path to entering the field, or much information about what the career could offer. The hope is that this investment will set out a better professional path for graduates and help students to properly understand the benefits of a career in FM.

Compensating for retirees

Furthermore, the plans have been put in place to create opportunities, and also to fill gaps. Since the workforce is predominantly aged between 40 and 50, the sector needs to prepare for when those employees leave. Without raising the profile of FM as a career and creating these opportunities for the next generation of workers, companies will be left with staff shortages. That is why this investment is such a timely revelation.

The different areas of facilities management

Some may be surprised to hear that the sector is very varied, offering a range of niche specialisms. Among these areas of expertise are building design & planning, building development, contracts/projects & bids, engineering/maintenance, estates/property, events, health & safety, operations, procurement, sustainability, technical services/ICT and general FM.

How to get your career started

To find out more about the apprenticeships and other opportunities for professional study that are available in the FM sector, you can consult the relevant pages on gov.uk, or you can visit the designated area found on the BIFM website (The Professional Body for Facilities Management) at bifm.org.uk. As someone in their twenties, looking for a great career, you should definitely consider setting your sights on becoming an FM professional and benefitting from the apprenticeships on offer. You could gain valuable qualifications, and also learn a great deal about the sector, mastering the skills required to progress through the ranks.

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Three essential skills that all facilities managers need

Facilities management is a diverse sector covering a broad range of roles, yet there are certain skills that any successful professional within the field must possess.

With the sector changing drastically thanks to new technology and a stream of environmental regulations, those who were once well-suited to the industry may now struggle to keep up with the ever-changing environment, while others may now begin to thrive in their positions.

Here are the key skills required by those entering the field of facilities management.

Analytical skills

By nature, facilities management is quite a complex and unpredictable discipline, with new challenges being thrown at staff all the time. As such, individuals must be prepared to think quickly and to make decisions in line with business needs and budget. Facilities managers, in particular, are tasked with dealing with a variety of important and somewhat detailed information. They must use this to inform decisions, amend procedures where necessary and find new ways to improve the overall efficiency of the team and the building (or buildings) being managed.

Communication skills

As facilities management can require team members to oversee a range of situations including project planning and managing, communication is not only useful, it is key. Managers must be comfortable giving orders to their team yet they must possess the skills to communicate with colleagues in an appropriate manner. In addition to being able to speak effectively with a team, managers must also possess excellent written communication skills so that they can write up reports from meetings, staff reviews, and other important discussions in a professional manner.

Leadership skills

As we have seen above, managers in the facilities industry must be able to encourage and motivate a team, which means that strong leadership skills will determine whether or not you are ultimately promoted. That said, not everyone is a natural leader and the confidence needed can be built up over time, as can the knowledge that is required to support career progression. Being honest, being passionate, being able to communicate and being able to delegate are just a few signs that you could be a great manager in the future. It is good to note that leaders come in all ages; youthfulness should not deter you from chasing your dream of becoming a manager.

As you can see, the three principles are not difficult to achieve but it is your attitude and drive that will determine just how well you meet these requirements. One of the main things to remember is not to underestimate the responsibility that is placed in your hands, yet to not let the pressure of getting things to work harmoniously overwhelm you. If you are just considering a job in this sector and are doubting your suitability to work your way to the top, bear in mind that these are skills that you can develop along the way. You might even have developed elements of these skills during your education or previous work experience but have yet to realise it.


The trickiest interview questions you must be prepared to answer

A successful interview isn't all about how confident you are and how much you know about the facilities management field. It's also about preparing yourself to tackle those tricky questions that are often thrown into the mix to see how you react under pressure.

Employers often don't mean to come across as intimidating during interviews, but the problem of finding the right candidate means that they have to ask quite intense questions before they invest time and money into your career. Here are five of the trickiest interview questions you'll ever have to encounter during a facilities management interview.

1. Do you have any complaints about your current company? This question is ultimately designed to find out your reasons for wanting to move on from your existing post, yet it can also be a sneaky way of to find out if you are a loyal or a disgruntled employee.

2. What is the worst job you have ever had? This question allows the panel to find out if you are proactive enough to fix a situation that gets you down. It's also useful to them to find out what demotivates you, so that they can assess whether you'll succeed in their own facilities management job.

3. Why are you the best person for this job? Although this question opens you up to talk about yourself with some level of confidence, it is also a good way to discover if you are over-confident. Be sure to articulate why you feel that you are suited to the role, drawing on your past experience and any other assets that make you stand out. Always avoid putting other candidates down, as you could come across as a poor team member.

4. Why were you let go from your previous post? If you have recently been fired, employers are inevitably going to want to know about this. If you were in the wrong, you must be able to explain objectively why you were accountable and take responsibility for your actions. If you start to blame other team members or try to claim that you were set up, you're likely to be rejected on the basis of being in denial.

5. What is your biggest weakness? Once again, a smug-like answer such as "I don't have any flaws" will not win you any fans in the interview room. Nobody is perfect, so even if you can't or don't want to focus on one of your negative traits, try to think back to a situation in which you perhaps didn't react in the most efficient way and tell the panel about that. The interviewers will want to see you committed to always improving yourself as a professional.

As you will have gathered, many of the hardest questions to answer at interview are those that seek to get inside your head and gain a better understanding of your behaviour and true character. While companies are concerned with aptitude and years of experience, they are also keen to find individuals who will fit into the company's culture. So as not to come up with rash answers that may end up getting you disqualified from the process, be sure to invest time planning for your facilities management interview.

How social media can make or break your job hunt

How social media can make or break your job hunt

In this day and age, most people will have experimented with social media, with many having one or more accounts that they update regularly. While posting pictures of a night out with friends may seem perfectly innocent, if prospective employers catch sight of something they don't like, then it could cost you the job. This is why social media can inadvertently make or break your job hunt in the facilities management industry.

Why do employers look up candidates online?

While you may expect an establishment in the facilities management sector to base their decision whether to hire you on your CV, covering letter, a test completed or on how you display yourself at an interview, you might be shocked to find out that many facilities management teams look up their preferred candidates online, to get a glimpse of who they are outside of the professional environment. With many of us hearing about or finding job advertisements through social networks nowadays, who are we to complain if a company takes a look at us, just like we have probably inspected their information and statuses on sites like LinkedIn or Twitter?

Though some would argue that LinkedIn is specifically designed for making business connections and finding out about companies and the staff who work for them, are recruiters crossing a line when they start to venture onto predominantly 'social' sites like Facebook or Instagram?

Keeping your private life private

Regardless of how you feel about this situation, if you have a public Facebook profile, or even have mutual friends at the company you intend to work for, offering visibility into your private life, then you are inviting anyone to take a look at what you have been up to. Remember also that this applies to everything on your account, from old posts that were once funny to photographs that you might now feel ashamed of. The key message here is not to remove your social media presence altogether, but to assess your accounts and censor anything that you personally would not want a prospective employer to see.

If your social media accounts regularly display behaviour that is very different to what the panel of interviewers saw, or that puts you across in a negative light, then that might cause them to worry about your sincerity and your suitability for their post.

It's not all bad though...

On the contrary, not everyone's profiles will be filled with controversial content and not all employers will be easily offended by someone having fun in their personal time, but it is useful to note that professionals might be interested to know about your true character including your interests, hobbies and groups that you are actively involved in. As such, your open profile might even work in your favour when it comes to finding work.

Many people hiring for the facilities management sector will be influenced by seeing a social media account that displays a likeable personality and one that will fit in nicely into their team.

C22 newsletter

Catch 22 newsletters are a great resource for those in the facilities management sector, offering heaps of industry-specific news. The August issue, for example, features news on hot topics right now in the industry, such as BIFM's Professional Standards Wheel, C22's boost in technical recruitment and information on Matthew Taylor's modern employment practices report. Here are some short summaries of the articles you might read about in this month's issue.

BIFM's FM Professional Standards Wheel

FM’s foremost professional body, BIFM, has recently announced its launch of the FM Professional Standards Wheel. By gathering information from the FM Professional Standards, BIFM has created a wheel which aims to show those in the facilities management industry where they currently sit in their career path, making it easier for them to plan their next move or know what could be their next venture within the business. Not only is this a great career development guide for employees, it's also a fantastic HR resource.

C22 recruitment

C22 has been working hard on improving its technical recruitment and additional help has arrived in the form of new Divisional Manager, Paul McQuade. McQuade, with his 15 years of experience within the industry, will oversee the recruitment of Safety, Health, Environmental and Quality management professionals. It is thought that companies who identify qualified and experienced engineers and managers at the correct time find it vital to successful business operations, and McQuade's role is to facilitate this recruitment stage. The full article provides details regarding contacting Paul McQuade, should you wish to.

The Taylor Report

The Taylor Report, the brainchild of Matthew Taylor, is a report which has received lots of media coverage over its controversial ideas. The report examines how we work and makes suggestions to companies and the government on how to make businesses run better. For instance, Taylor conveys in his report that 'dependent contractors' should be introduced as a new group of workers, able to earn at least 1.2 x the minimum wage. Meanwhile, it discusses further employees' rights, such as introducing a higher minimum wage and having the government fund more holidays.

Finally, Taylor refers to 'cash in hand' jobs costing the economy around £6bn per year, stating that most people would like to know that the contractors they employ are paying their taxes. As he looks to the government to help in doing more good for the workplace, others are left wondering if his ideas will really work.

These stories, plus much more can be found in the August issue of C22, so don't miss out on your opportunity to read about these external, as well as company, issues and topics. Newsletters like C22's are a fantastic way to encourage communication, not only in raising stories relevant to the sector, but also in sending messages out to readers. Future newsletters will tell people what the company has been up to, acknowledge feedback or comments made by external and internal individuals alike, and bring subscribers industry news and ads which are relevant to the trade.

Tips to be successful in interview

It is normal to feel nervous going into an interview, but it is important not to let those anxieties affect your performance. Job interviews have a similar format, no matter what level of facilities management you are looking to enter, and they are ultimately your chance to sell yourself to your prospective employer. Follow these useful tips to ensure that you stand out from other applicants.

Be prepared

Before you go in for an interview, make sure you have done your research. This does not mean simply reading the job description, and you should put in the time and effort to read the company website and any blogs or leaflets linked to the business. Other things to think about in advance are what kind of salary you would expect and when you might be able to start, as these are things they are likely to ask you during the meeting. Finally, get yourself ready in plenty of time on the day, to ensure you look smart - first impressions are vital.

Develop a rapport

When taking part in a discussion with your prospective employer, it is important to show energy and passion, but not to come across as too confident. Display your personality by showing off your sense of humour, but reign in any inappropriate jokes - your smile is enough to show your positivity. Also, be sure to answer questions fully. Even if you need a moment or two to get your thoughts together, the panel will not mind. It is far better to stop and compose yourself than to blurt out a rushed response and then regret it afterwards.

Bear in mind body language

Trying to remember all of the things you want to say can be even harder when you are also worrying about how you are coming across. That is why you should think about your body language in advance, so that you are well-prepared and can feel at ease having a professional discussion. Never fold your arms in an interview as this creates a barrier, and do not slouch or lean back in your chair. Sit up straight when being spoken to and lean forward to show an interest. Using your hands can also be useful when making a point.

Be professional

When attending your facilities management interview, it is important to remember your manners. Shake the interviewer's hand upon meeting, even if you have met him or her before, and do not forget to maintain eye contact throughout the interview. Remember that the panel will be looking out for a positive and professional attitude towards work, so do not make the mistake of complaining about your current role or boss to them.

Tell them why you are best for the role

It is no good expecting your experience to carry you through the interview stage, nor should it be left to the interviewers to pick things out of your CV and make links to the position you are applying for. Show them that you understand what is expected from the post holder by giving them examples of when you have had to perform in a similar situation in the past. Also, reiterate key skills gained, wherever relevant.

How Facilities Recruitment is Changing as the Industry Evolves

It's fair to say that facilities management has changed significantly over the course of the past two decades. Though the core responsibilities of the role remain the same, the sector has evolved into a very complicated and high-tech environment, requiring much more initiative and know-how than ever before.

A fast track through history

In the 1900s, facilities operatives would theoretically work behind the scenes, in areas that were out of sight of the building's general workers. Their jobs were primarily focused on the boiler room, where all of the equipment they managed was to be found. Now, many years on, facilities managers not only have boiler units and fuse boxes to monitor but also an array of complex machinery and gadgets to keep on top of, such as air conditioning units, storage heaters, server rooms and their contents and much, much more.

Though not all facilities teams need to be involved in the technical aspects of the buildings they manage, thanks to dedicated IT personnel, they must still work in collaboration with them and other relevant departments for phone line installs, electrical installations, equipment repairs and so on. This added workload brings with it the additional need for strategic planning, improved communication and more technical understanding than might previously have been the case.

Changes in facilities recruitment

The biggest change in facilities recruitment is apparent in the hiring of mid-level to senior-level staff. Companies realise the importance of the sector's role and are keen to recruit individuals with extensive experience and a strong background in managing significant projects. When looking at past projects, they are seeking professionals with an understanding of business and the ability to work with complicated budgets, as well as the capability to recognise how facilities support impacts on the wider business. Leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills are also highly appealing to managers, as they strive for sustainability. However, these attributes, combined with the aforementioned business acumen, aren’t always easy to find.

Skills and experience sought in the 21st century

As requirements tighten for senior roles in facilities management, candidates may find that their skills and experience are put under more scrutiny than in previous years. For instance, some examples of the skills that companies are now seeking include a good financial aptitude, strategic thinking, strong leadership, an understanding of modern technology, an adaptable attitude and advanced analytical skills. Any individual looking to progress to a senior position within the facilities management sector will be expected to demonstrate some, if not all, of the above, and will need to be open to expanding their current level of expertise.

Attracting staff to facilities roles

The difficulty with recruiting responsible, highly-qualified professionals is that they are usually already in senior positions and not seeking work elsewhere. It is, therefore, vital for recruiters to make the roles more appealing to candidates whilst maintaining a consistent approach to the process. There is no one perk that can attract all the right prospective employees because each and every person has their own personal goals and career aspirations. This is why it is, at times, beneficial to appropriately customise strategies when filling posts and, above all, to highlight how your company differs positively from others.