cool office

Why more employers are investing in 'cool' offices

cool officeIf you think “cool” offices are confined to slightly off the wall startups in the trendier bits of London and Manchester, think again. A study reported in the Facilities Management Journal found that a third of employers had added a “cool” element to their workplaces, in order to increase productivity and bolster staff morale.

Cycle storage, showers, bean bags and quiet spaces are all being added, in an attempt to improve employee wellbeing. As contented staff are not combing LinkedIn for a new position every Monday morning, there are plenty of benefits for the employer.

In fact, the study also revealed that 20% of workers have left a job because they didn’t like the surroundings they had to work in. Given the expense of recruiting staff, employers see the cost-benefit of any investment that will boost staff retention. Another bonus is that these kinds of facilities can be used to attract new talent into the organisation.

More than bike racks and bean bags

Facilities managers now need to be able to provide a wide range of cool features when they furnish workspaces, with the main emphasis very much on health and wellbeing. An impressive 40% of employers believe that reducing stress and improving employee well-being pays off with increased productivity and better attendance.

So lunchtime yoga and fitness sessions, gyms, games rooms, and even indoor play equipment such as slides, are all now becoming more common. One of the developments that are interesting for facilities management professionals is to see the way in which physical furnishings, such as sofas and relaxation pods, are part of an integrated approach to wellbeing that may also include lunchtime talks or bringing pets to work. One can’t help wondering whether some staff may not find the office manager’s pet tarantula a little less than relaxing, however.

What’s holding back this movement?

Those employers who aren’t intending to give their staff any new wellbeing facilities are not necessarily present day Scrooges. Although 17% think that the cool office trend is a fad that will pass, for nearly half, the overwhelming problem is lack of space. Where this rules out space-hungry features such as quiet rooms and relaxation pods, employers are still able to offer employees many of the facilities they now want. For example, where there isn’t enough room for a gym and shower, employers are offering discounts on local gyms and healthy eating restaurants. They’re arranging for motivational speakers to come in during the lunch hour or giving staff free access to fitness classes and local swimming pools.

One thing is certain - the trend for remote working, with employees paying only occasional visits to the office, will increase the pressure on facilities management companies to provide an environment that is welcoming and that aids productivity. The office will need to justify its cost, by providing more than a desk, a PC and a phone. The extra perks will change over time, but the days of lateral desking in tones of beige, and a dingy coffee area may have gone - much to the relief of many staff.


Checklist

Tips on switching careers into FM

ChecklistIf you're thinking about switching to a career in facilities management, try the self-assessment questions below, to give yourself the best chance of success. 

1. What interests you, what can you do, and what do you value? 
Try to answer these questions as honestly as you can, because they are key to building insight into what motivates you and makes you tick. You can also try the questions in reverse - what bores you, what are you bad at, and what do you think is not worthwhile? But focus more strongly on the positive versions because you’ll need to keep positive for your job search and career change. 

2. Why are you dissatisfied with your current job?
Again, you’re developing insights which will help you to decide on your future direction. It can help to keep a work diary (not on a work PC!). Use the diary entries to figure out whether it's the company’s culture, your particular role, or the people you work with that are making you want to seek new opportunities. 

3. Which FM job would be right for you?
Facilities management covers a range of activities, in a very diverse set of environments and companies. Try looking at a recruitment site, and checking the job descriptions for FM jobs, noting down the kind of role that appeals to you. 

4. Start building your network
Try and make contact with people in your chosen slice of facilities management. Read the trade press, go to trade shows, or respond to blogs written by specialists in the industry. 

5. You probably have access to an FM professional already
You could start by talking to the facilities people in the building you currently work in. It’s amazing how much useful business intelligence on opportunities and companies you can gather through casual conversations. 

6. Explore online 
Use job networking sites such as LinkedIn, and social media such as Instagram and Facebook, to identify anyone working in the industry that you may be able to contact discreetly. Don’t say that you’re looking to change career unless you are ready to move job, because your current employer may see the post. 

7. Start thinking about your CV
When you read online job descriptions, start thinking about aspects of your experience that would be relevant, even though you’ve been in a different industry. For example, team leading, working with people and planning are widely applicable.

8. Get qualified
At the very least, find out what qualifications you would need. Many employers will send staff on courses - take a look at the qualifications most often requested in job ads that interest you and gain any pre-entry certificates that you need.

9. Start to move in the new direction
If you’re offered training in your current job, try and make it something that would be relevant to your potential FM career - a project management qualification is always a good option. 

10. If necessary, use a stepping stone
You may not be able to get to the job you want in one step. You may need to move sideways or to take a role in FM that will give you the experience you need to qualify for the job you really want.


business-strategy-success

Top tips for successful career planning

Career planning puts you in charge - it enables you to set your own goals and take steps to achieve them. What you want from your facilities management career will probably change radically over the course of your working life, so it’s a good idea to take some time once or twice a year, to review what you really want from your career, and start taking steps to achieve it.

Follow these five steps to make career planning a reality for you.

1. Give yourself some space and time
The best way to review what’s happened so far, and where you want to go now, is in peace and quiet, without distractions. That’s difficult if you have a noisy family or flatmates around - so maybe drive or walk to a quiet place with your notebook, and give yourself an hour or two of reflection time. Pay attention to how you feel about things, as well as what you think about them.

2. Reflection first
Look back at what has happened since the last time you did this - or since you entered the profession if this is the first time you’ve reviewed your career. Many people find it helpful to draw a diagram or a map to sum up what’s happened so far. Maybe a job that you wanted turned out to be a wrong turning. Or maybe a dreaded redundancy has turned into a great turning point. Write it all down.

3. Assess yourself
Write down what satisfies and what frustrates you about your current job. What do you like and dislike? What would you keep and what would you change? Try and separate needs from wants, so that you can look at each dispassionately. Are you doing things to please someone else? If you could please yourself, what would you do? What is your real motivation - be honest.

4. Set your goals
Remember, your goals don’t have to be more money, or promotion, or a better car, if that’s not what you really want. If you want a shorter commute, more time for your personal life, or to take a degree, these are also goals to concentrate on.

Then decide on any compromises you’re willing to make. If you want more money, are you prepared to travel further? If you want more time, are you prepared to earn less, or move sideways? Gradually, you’ll be drawing up a framework that you can use as a guide to achieving the career you want.

5. Write down the steps that will get you there
Do you need to explain it to your partner? Get a new qualification? Update your CV?

If you want to move into facilities management in a new sector, research this. Take a look at the jobs being advertised that you’d like to do, and figure out how to get the qualifications or experience they’re asking for. Getting your CV up to date is a great first start.

Unemployment in the UK is at an all-time low - so there couldn’t be a better time to change job or go for a promotion!


5 of the biggest FM technology developments to know

5 of the biggest FM technology developments to know

Facilities management is being transformed by technology, and that is both enhancing and disrupting the traditional business models that have dominated the industry until now. These are the five key technology trends that facilities management professionals must know about.

1. The Internet of Things (IoT)

One key development is the Internet of Things - the ability to add intelligence to physical items, to network them together and to have them communicate into central control points. This is revolutionising the way that buildings are managed. Physical information collected by thermostats, actuators or sensors can be pushed into a processing system which can then take decisions on how well the system is running, and what aspects of it need to be adjusted, in order to reach peak performance. The information collected can confirm humidity, temperature, light levels, sound, vibration, occupancy levels and all kinds of other data.

The facilities manager is able to view the building system as a whole and to manage it much more effectively.

2. Building Information Modelling (BIM)

When a building is being designed, architects need to be able to model the way that the finished construction will work when it is in use. Contractors and others need to use these models to estimate quantities and costs, and to draw up their own plans for how systems such as cabling, heating and so on will be installed.

BIM used to be a specialised tool, used primarily before the building was constructed. But the facilities management profession realised how useful these models would be in planning how buildings would work, and in modelling the building system as a whole. When linked to working documentation, such as floor plans, BIM can be a powerful management tool.

3. Developments in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)

HVAC systems are some of the most expensive facilities to run, and this area has been the target both for cost reduction and for efforts to reduce the carbon output of buildings. New building automation systems can make these targets easier to achieve, through lower use of energy for heating and cooling the building.

Facilities managers can get advance warning of system elements that are about to fail, and can also pinpoint elements that are not working efficiently - for example, using more energy, or producing less output, than they should.

4. Maintenance streamlining through software

Managers are beginning to realise the benefits of adding maintenance schedules for systems or parts of systems, to an automated facility maintenance package. The software can create work orders and link them to the required documentation, in order to produce full instructions for contractors, and others working in the building. After the job is finished, the status can be updated in the software, and calendar reminders can be set for the next scheduled maintenance. This enables managers to plan workflow more evenly through the year.

5. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

That's the official name for drones. Until now, these have mainly been used for filming inaccessible parts of buildings. However, in the future, we can expect to see the development of drones that can carry out jobs such as redecoration and repair. It will be a while before scaffolding isn’t needed anymore - but the sight of drones buzzing about buildings is going to become a common one.


networking

These networking tips will help you to land your next job

If you’re not using networking to get your next job, why don’t you spend the extra free time you have, writing a letter to Mark Zuckerberg explaining that the whole networking thing doesn’t work, so you won’t be using it anytime soon. Instead, you’ve decided to stay in your room plugging away at a CV, aimed at an organisation that just gave their best job to someone they met through their networks.

Alternatively, you could give yourself a chance, and network. This doesn’t mean you have to spend every evening on the white wine and Pringles circuit. It’s simply that you need to get known and let people know that you’re available. These days, there are lots of different ways to do that.

Take a look at these four key tips for using networking to get the job you really want...

1. Get business cards printed

You can’t expect people you meet at an event to find a pen to write down your email address or mobile number. So get a business card printed with your name and contact information on it. Then they can either take a card, or capture it with their mobile. Don’t make up a job title, if you haven’t got a job yet, or you’re working below the level you’re aiming for. Just tell the person you have a card - they’ll be impressed by how organised you are.

2. Find the events that feature your kind of firms
You need to get talking to people, so if you want to get into facilities management, attending trade shows can be a real network game changer. Dress for the organisation you want to impress, make for the stand, and start talking to people. Even if it doesn’t result in an immediate call, if you then apply for a job via their website and get an interview, you can use this as proof that you’ve wanted to work for the company for some time. (You needn’t tell them you did the same thing with 20 other companies at that trade show).

3. Networking isn’t always social
There’s a lot of networking that takes place away from social networks, even work-based networks like Linkedin. Look for webinars that feature major names or firms in the areas that interest you. For example, say you want to get into Facilities Management. The British Institute of Facilities Managers has a bunch of relevant webinars on its website - https://www.bifm.org.uk/bifm/Qualifications/studysupport/Webinars.

If there are comment boxes, use them to make yourself known. Say that you were really interested in and that this is an area you hope to work in. Ask for advice. Most people are happy to give it. If you don’t want to comment, remember that it helps when networking in real life, if you have things to talk about that are relevant to the industry and recent. This will help you get over any natural reticence.

4. Use all the social networks
Finally, remember to cover all the bases, with LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, to make sure you don’t miss any opportunities.


issues facilities manager

5 key issues in FM that all facilities managers should know

Facilities management has become a critical part of running a modern organisation, and there’s every indication that its importance will continue to grow. Obviously, it has to meet the challenges that come with increasing criticality - so let’s take a look at how it’s rising to the increasing demands placed upon it.

issues facilities managerAttracting fresh talent

Part of the problem here is making young people aware that facilities management exists, and that it can provide a great career. Graduates looking around the world of work often overlook FM, and yet the industry needs people with recent IT, management and multi-disciplinary skills.

There’s a generation of FM managers who came up through the ranks, often without attending university. They need to encourage young graduates to join, by creating entry points, such as graduate training programmes. The industry also needs to reach out to universities, and help the development of facilities management as a degree discipline.

Embracing scenario planning

Scenario planning is “what if” thinking, and it’s becoming increasingly important for businesses and public bodies. From extreme weather to internet attacks and security threats, facilities managers need to be thinking about how to deal with emergency and unplanned situations.

Less dramatic, but equally important, FM needs to develop change resilience. This means that the facilities team looks two to five years ahead, takes on board the possible changes that may happen in the world of work, and plans for them.

FM needs to bang its own drum

Other workers and managers tend to take everything that FM does for granted. This is partly because facilities managers tend to be pragmatic types, who get on with the job and don’t make a huge fuss. But they need to show that they make a unique contribution to helping the company deliver on its business mission.

This includes using company newsletters or other communication channels to let colleagues know about sustainability or energy-saving initiatives.

Get senior management buy-in

By focusing on the benefits that FM delivers to the workforce, facilities managers can raise the profile of their function and make senior managers more aware of it. That will mean that members of the FM team are more likely to be included on key projects and business change initiatives.

Show you understand the new workforce

Following on from getting senior management buy-in, FM professionals need to show that they understand the ways in which the workplace is changing. Because so many people are now working away from the office for a part, or even most, of the week, they need different facilities when they visit.

A flexible configuration can provide break out spaces, quiet areas, meeting rooms and other kinds of environment that will facilitate these new ways of working. Furniture and fittings need to change so that they encourage conversations and informal exchanges, as well as formal meetings.

Without background organisation, this could become a chaotic and noisy environment, with not enough facilities to go around at busy times. So the FM professional needs to demonstrate that they are flexible but able to maintain a workable and orderly structure that promotes productivity.

All of these challenges are of course, also opportunities - so FM professionals will need plenty of new ideas and energy.


Why FM job seekers need to understand the role of sustainability in the role

In the past, facilities managers often only needed to take a short-term view. Leak on the fifth floor? We’ll get someone up there... But that kind of simple, operationally-based approach is no longer enough to satisfy potential employers. If you want to progress in this industry today, you need to show that you understand sustainability, and how profoundly it affects what facilities management is all about. 

The FM scope has widened significantly

One of the challenges for people building a career in FM is to understand how much the scope of the function has increased. It’s no longer just about providing a managed workplace. Many clients want their building to showcase their values - demonstrating in physical terms that they are an environmentally sensitive and responsible business. And of course, in energy saving terms, this also makes economic sense. 
The facilities manager has to be prepared to get to grips with solar heating, wind turbines in the grounds, battery storage of energy and so on. It’s not that every office block has these - it’s that they are now within the scope of facilities management. It doesn’t matter so much whether you have practical experience of these systems - but you do need to be aware of them and show that you’re willing to learn about them. Reading the FM trade press - online obviously - is a great way to be well informed about what leading-edge companies are doing in this area. Because what is considered “out there” to begin with has a way of trickling down and becoming normal a few years later. We’re in a period of enormous change in the way we relate to our environment, and you’ll need to show awareness of this. 

Employees are driving some developments

Another area that would not have entered the heads of old school facilities managers is internal pollution. Yet this is a growing area of concern for employees. Just as external pollution has resulted in an effort to reduce emissions, concerns over internal air quality are resulting in changes to air conditioning and ventilation systems. 
Similarly, people now work differently - with many people working at home more often, and visiting the office sporadically, a sustainable building needs to be flexible, and easy to reconfigure for different types of employee groups. 

Roofscapes and gardens

Many office blocks have unused space around the ground floor and on the roof. In the past, it was a simple matter of getting the grounds person to mow the lawn and planting a few nondescript shrubs. 
Now, companies are using their green space to encourage sustainability initiatives, such as bee-friendly planting. Rooftops are being turned into herb and vegetable gardens, often with the product being used in the company cafeteria

Be ready with your own ideas

Imagine that you’re going for an interview, for a job you really want, as facilities manager for a large office block with some grounds, in a city centre. The candidates are shown around and given information about the building. It’s your turn to be interviewed. Imagine that the director turns to you and asks: “What would you do to make this building more sustainable in the long term?”
It’s a key question. So could you answer it?


cv writing tips

The top steps to creating a perfect facilities CV

 

cv writing tips

So you want to move upwards and build your career in facilities management? The first thing you’ll need to do is put a great CV together, so you get through the sifting process that employers use to narrow down the field of candidates. So follow these 5 tips to impress the facilities management firm you’ve got your eye on.

1. Keep it short
Two pages are OK - but one is better. Apart from anything else, it shows that you can boil a lot of information down into the key points. You don’t need the full postal address of schools or colleges. If you get to the stage where references and qualifications are being checked, then you may need to supply the information. So the name of the school, college or employer, town and postcode are fine. This should keep the information to one line.

2. Use formatting to help readers scan and skim
Make sure that the information is presented in an organised format and aligned. This gives an impression of method and neatness and makes it easier for recruiters to quickly scan through the information.

In the same vein, before you press Send - make sure everything has been spell checked! Nothing gives a poorer impression than a CV full of errors, no matter how great your work experience or qualifications are.

3. Make it specific to the job or employer
If you’ve seen a job advertised for a maintenance manager, for example, and it asks for CVs, make sure your CV is angled to the specific post being advertised. Play up all the kinds of experience you have that makes you a great candidate for this kind of job. Don’t forget to include soft skills such as being good at motivating people, or having good organisational skills.

4. Use the personal statement to the good effect
One way to point out your relevant experience is in a short personal statement - and that means one paragraph. You might want to point out that your current post requires you to prioritise and set goals, and that this would help you to be effective in the post being advertised.

5. Be honest
Don’t make up experience you haven’t got. Even if being dishonest gets you a job, you may fail due to not having the right experience. Or you may be a huge success until the day the head of HR asks you to step into the office, to tell you that you’re sacked because your credentials don’t check out.

Similarly, if there are gaps in your CV, as long as you can explain them in a way that satisfies a potential employer, they needn’t be a deal-breaker. People often say that they took time out to travel, write a novel, try and make it in the music industry or whatever. Just don’t use one of these explanations to hide a difficult truth - it will almost certainly come out at some point.

Follow these guidelines and you’re ahead of the pack when the recruiter starts sifting through those CVs.


drone in the sky

Which tech trends are most impacting the FM industry?

From drones to robotics, a wave of change is about to break over the facilities management industry.

A lot of tech trends that previously seemed fanciful or gimmicky are fast becoming a reality. Drones, for example, are already in use by fire services - not inclined to buy gadgets for the sake of it. They’re using them to send back pictures of incidents, look for people in areas that firefighters can’t access, and direct operational efforts. So let’s see which tech trends may have the biggest impact on the FM industry in the near and medium-term.

Robotics

This doesn’t yet mean person-shaped androids working on fixing the air conditioning, but it does mean that repetitive tasks will soon be done by robotic tools. Sweeping the grounds, picking up leaves, floor cleaning, window washing and grass cutting are all jobs that can be done by robots available now.

High initial costs are offset by the fact that the robot maintenance workers don’t need breaks, holidays or sick leave and can work day and night, in most kinds of weather. And the rapid development of more sophisticated sensor technologies, allied to machine learning and artificial intelligence, means that robotic security in buildings is likely to come about much sooner than many people realise.

Drones

In use already, drones have been in some ways a solution looking for a problem. But now that they are cheaper, smaller and lighter, their use in facilities maintenance is beginning to grow. Drones with high-resolution cameras can send back pictures of inaccessible parts of the building, allowing facilities managers to diagnose a problem accurately before they go to the expense of getting contractors in.

One underestimated effect of technology is that the fact it exists begins to change the way we do other things. Previously, we’ve needed to design the maintenance and management envelope of a building so that it was accessible to people for inspection purposes. Now, building design may change as we delegate that kind of task to drones. Once drones become more specialised, able to carry out tasks or to transport robotic tools that can be programmed to perform specific jobs, everything changes.

Intelligent things, internet connected

The Internet of Things had a lot of hype last year - since then things have quietened down a bit. But that doesn’t mean that development stopped. We’re now on the verge of a world where things (pumps, controllers, heating systems, ventilation pipes, AV conference rooms) have enough inbuilt intelligence to predict that they are going to go wrong and to use internet technology to let us know before it happens. That completely changes facilities management from a reactive “fixing it” mode to a proactive “preventing it failing” role.

There’s just one drawback - people’s expectations will simply rise, until the new normal is a seamless, trouble-free, smoothly flowing building environment where the temperature is always perfect, robots silently clean and everything is fixed before it ever breaks down. If it sounds like a dream, it isn’t - it will be a reality sooner than we think.


management

How is facilities management changing in the workplace?

There have been enormous changes in the past few years, in the way that people view their workplaces, and this, in turn, has led to significant shifts in the part played by facilities management. It's not just tech startups that feel the need to design a workplace that makes its users feel comfortable. Even major, traditional companies have recognised that there's a strong link between people feeling that their workplace gives them a sense of well-being and consequent rises in productivity.

Growth in project work and home working

With more and more people working on project-based assignments, workflows are often dictated by the demands of the project, and this can lead to occasional long hours for employees who are key to project delivery. An environment where these people feel relaxed yet can work professionally can make extra hours spent delivering a key project more acceptable.

Similarly, the growth in home working has made the formality of office life look increasingly constrained. With many employees spending a couple of days a week at home and the rest of the time in the office, it's become clear that a formal office environment is not necessary for productive work. That has led people to question whether it is necessary at all, and what function it is performing.

New types of facilities managers needed

In addition, when people do come into the office, they are looking for a more sociable environment and they don't wish to sit in rigidly separated structures. To achieve the balance between home working and office life, facilities have had to change and facilities managers have had to become far more customer-focused in order to provide the kind of workspaces that modern organisations demand.

The facilities industry needs to recruit a new type of manager who is capable of understanding these shifts in the working environment. Previously, the industry was seen by the public as concerned with lighting, heating and the most basic aspects of the workplace. That's changing, although the industry still has a long way to go to persuade new recruits to look at facilities management as a forward-looking and rewarding career that integrates many aspects of building design and functionality.

One way forward is to ensure that professional qualifications, including those offered by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), are seen as part of the development path for those entering the industry. Facilities management is exceptionally well-placed to recruit a diverse workforce because it is one of the industries most likely to promote those from the shop floor - almost literally - those who perhaps started as cleaners or caretakers can work their way up to leading and influential positions, collecting relevant qualifications as they go.

As buildings change, so do the challenges of the facility, and environmental management is now seen as a key driver of workforce wellbeing in both new and old buildings. The facilities manager is taking an increasingly important role in building design and sustainability initiatives, and this should encourage new entrants who are interested in new technology and new ways to work.