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.


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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.


Energy efficient

What should facilities managers know about energy audits?

Energy management systems are comprehensive frameworks for conserving and managing energy at every part of the supply chain. In the EU, a raft of legislation and energy efficiency audits are used to implement this process. It is likely, with Brexit, that in the UK we will tend towards the International Standards Organisation processes, in particular, ISO 50001. This is the international standard for the implementation and monitoring of energy management systems (EnMS).

If a facilities management function or business complies with ISO 50001, it also meets a host of other energy-saving regulations, such as mandatory carbon reporting.

However, until transition arrangements are clearer, the EU Energy Efficiency Directive will still be in force. And very much to the point for facilities managers, the EU Energy Performance of Buildings directive is currently making its way through the system.

It couldn’t really be more complicated, except that one thing is clear - the demand from government for more energy-efficient buildings and facilities is not going to go away. So energy audits are definitely here to stay.

Start with a self-audit
Although dozens of companies and consultancies offer energy audits, it can be a good idea for a company or organisation to self-audit before calling in the professionals. The results of the self-audit will give the company a much more informed basis for discussion with any potential energy auditor they may decide to employ.

The Department of Energy now issues a tool for companies to self-audit, under the less-than-snappy title of the Building Energy Asset Score. However, this is a useful tool, because it uses a national standard, produces a score, stores data and generates an evaluation of both the physical building envelope and the systems in it, including mechanical and electrical. It suggests cost-effective upgrades as well.

As of the end of March 2018, the tool also allows you to store energy audit data, once you have employed someone to carry out your energy audit, or carried it out yourself.

What happens during an energy audit?

The auditor will look at current energy usage in the facility and survey the building and its systems to assess those areas where energy could be saved. This can be a desk audit rather than a physical walk around. The auditor should be able to benchmark the facility against comparable buildings in the same region, taking into account the age of building, its construction materials and systems.

The auditor will then assess the building and provide a score. They should suggest ways to improve energy efficiency. If the building passes the standards for the relevant energy assessment process, the auditor will certificate the building.

Needless to say, Energy Auditors are very much in demand, and there is every sign that the demand for these professionals will continue to grow. Some facilities management jobs now reference a combination role of Energy Manager and Auditor. It’s a sign that the need to evidence energy efficiency will continue, whichever standard companies and organisations use, and whatever the final arrangements after Brexit.


Job Recruitment

How to be successful at a recruitment assessment centre

So you open an email about that facilities management job you really want, and - well, it’s good news and bad news. The good news is you’re through to the next round, so all that time spent on the application was worth it. The bad news is there’s an assessment centre.

However, an assessment centre needn’t be an ordeal, if you know what to expect and do some preparation. The great thing is that any work you do will be useful for all job assessments.

You can train for tests

Many assessment centre tests start by looking at your numerical, logical or abstracting reasoning. If you immediately think “I can’t do maths, this is hopeless,” you're defeating yourself before you get there. You can raise your scores on all of these tests considerably by practising. Thanks to the internet, there are dozens of sample papers and questions you can use. Also, a visit to your local bookshop will pay dividends - there are books on how to pass numeracy or verbal reasoning tests.

Treat the assessment as you would the interview

Don’t imagine you can dress more casually because this isn’t the interview. The interviewing team may well be around, and first impressions count. So get there on time, dress smartly, have the appropriate kit with you - calculator, biro, pencil, eraser. Try not to look nervous and be polite to the reception staff - they are sometimes asked for their impressions of candidates!

Understand the role of the assessment

Most organisations do not rank candidates by result, then choose the top ranking candidate for the job. In many cases, as long as you have performed reasonably in terms of the requirements for the role, that’s enough. Sometimes, people who ace the tests are ruled out because the recruiter feels they wouldn’t be sufficiently challenged in the role and should perhaps be applying for a job that would use their skills more intensively.

Some people are very verbal, others very numeric - the assessment is simply to help build up the picture of what your strengths and weaknesses are, not judge your ability to do percentages, for example.

Psychometric personality tests

These are the tests that candidates often feel most uncomfortable about, but there’s no reason to worry about them. Think of them as the “round peg, square hole” tests. The employer is trying to make sure that the sort of person they need is the sort of person you are. Otherwise, they run the risk of recruiting someone who doesn’t fit in, doesn’t enjoy the job and leaves soon after arriving. That’s an expensive mistake for the employer.

Psychometric tests are not about how nice you are, how successful you are, whether you are a people person, or any other qualities. It’s about whether your behaviour profile is likely to sit well with the job behaviour profile. Even in a specific field, such as facilities management, someone could take a test and the results could rule them out of one job but make them the preferred candidate for another role.

So practice the test skills you can improve on, and as for the personality test - don’t take it personally - it’s not a judgement on you.


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How to network your way into a job with social media

It’s estimated that between 70% and 80% of jobs are never advertised. Instead, people use their networks to spread the word around people who may be interested in the vacancy. In the past, this made it very difficult to break into the world of work and people would say gloomily, “It's not what you know, it's who you know”.

These days, that's never been more true, but luckily there's now a much more even playing field. You can put the word out that you're looking for a job, raise your profile, tell people what interests you and what your skills are - all for free on social networks.

The important thing is to choose the appropriate social network for the level and type of job you want. A high level facilities management job is unlikely to be doing the rounds on Instagram. It's much more likely to be on LinkedIn. There's no harm putting your CV on Instagram because it's a no-cost option, but we all have a limited amount of time, so it's a good idea to focus your efforts where they are most likely to yield results.

Facebook is increasingly servicing an older population segment. Younger people are drawn towards networks such as Snapchat, where parents are less likely to be monitoring what they're doing. However, the comparatively older user base of Facebook can work in your favour if you're job hunting, because people in senior positions are often a bit older.

Facebook is also a great way to get onto someone's radar by liking any pages they've put up or posting pictures relevant to any interests you know they have. If you're aiming for a particular position or department, there's no harm in discovering that the person who heads up that department is an American football fan and using your page to express a keen interest in the same sport. Though obviously, you need to make sure you don't get caught out at interview!

It's also fine to tell the world that you're looking for a new post, what kind of job you're interested in and where you'd like to work. You may think that your Facebook network is primarily social, but remember that all of those people work and have their own family and social connections. And those connections have connections. The ripple effect from your post about looking for a job can be really far-reaching. Just make sure there are no pics on your Facebook pages that are going to put a potential employer off.

LinkedIn is, of course, the main professional network that people use to make contact with others in their line of business and build a professional profile. So this should be a focus for you if you're looking for a more senior job - for example, Head of Facilities Management. But again, be savvy about how you use LinkedIn. Recruiters and businesses that have jobs available are going to search on keywords. So put yourself in their shoes and decide what keywords you’d be searching on, then make sure that those keywords are in your career history, posts and an attached CV.

Spread your net as widely as possible and make it is really easy for people to find you, and you should be pleasantly surprised at the results.


How is smart technology changing the role of the FM manager?

From the Internet of Things to smarter buildings and innovative ways of using light, 2018 is going to be a year of constant technological change for facilities management. Let’s look at some of the main change drivers that are going to affect the FM manager this year.

Buildings that manage themselves

Previously, control over their environment was important to building users when they were working or at leisure. They wanted to be able to control the temperature, the humidity, the lighting and the amount of air being delivered.

Now, building users expect this to be done for them, by an intelligent system that monitors and maintains the environment without their involvement. At the same time as expecting the system to anticipate their needs and wishes, they also want it to save energy and choose the most economical way of managing their surroundings. The Facilities Manager is expected to deliver this system, and ensure that it works flawlessly all the time, no matter what changes occur in the external environment - be it snow or a heatwave.

Smart buildings keep people safer and even manage hot desks

There are also moves to fully integrate security and people management into smart building systems. If every member of staff or visitor is issued with a smart tag, and the system knows where they are meant to be, it’s a relatively simple matter to issue an alert if they move to an area they shouldn’t be in.

The Facilities Manager is the person who will need to ensure that the system is working appropriately and that its data is correct and up to date. Already, security systems can track movements, and this technology has the potential to increase staff safety. In a fire or other emergency, you’d be able to locate anyone trapped in the building because their tag would pinpoint their location on the floor plan.

However, can intelligent buildings sort out the really important problems, such as the squabbles over who gets the hot desks?

They can certainly simplify this kind of facilities management problem, by identifying the location of available hot desks and allowing remote booking via the internet or a mobile app. So an organisation with several buildings can feed information about vacant hot desks to a central point, display it to staff and ensure that everyone isn’t looking for space at the same time in the same building.

For Wi-Fi, think Li-Fi

LED light systems can send data at the speed of light - orders of magnitude faster than our current WiFi systems that transmit using radio waves. Surprisingly,, data transmission via Li-Fi can be incorporated into existing LED systems - the frequencies used mean that the human eye can’t pick up the light changes. When used as semiconductors, the LEDs can switch on or off up to - wait for it - a million times a second. What’s more, Li-Fi is more secure - the signal can’t be picked up by someone outside the building. So this is a technology that FM managers are going to be expected to know about in the future.

We expect to see many more developments in these technologies during the next year, and 2018 is going to be an exciting time to be a Facilities Manager.


Blog - Catch 22

Key 2018 facilities management trends that every FM professional should know

What are the key developments that will set the agenda for facilities management in 2018? Let's take a look at some of the emerging trends.

Wellness is going to be huge

You may well say fine - but what's that got to do with facilities management? The wellness trend is part of a growing realisation that the internal environment of buildings is as important as external environmental factors such as air quality. In fact, because employees spend so much time inside their workplace, it may be a more important contributor to their wellness or lack of it, than the outside space.

Facilities managers are being urged to employ a holistic approach to the entire way that a user experiences a building. So, for example, new approaches to lighting take individuals’ needs into account and the previous “one-size-fits-all” approach is no longer considered acceptable. Similarly, it's now recognised that excessive noise in the working environment is stressful and affects productivity.

Facilities managers will help to deliver happier employees

The prediction here is that the facilities manager will have responsibility not only for running the building, but also for the welfare of the staff inside it. This won't just be limited to the traditional health and safety parameters. It will be about making the environment a desirable one for people to work and live in.

Recent research from Scandinavia has confirmed that open plan offices are not good for helping staff to feel well. The open layout affects concentration and causes feelings of alienation. So facilities managers may find that future working spaces are more targeted to the individual physical and psychological needs of employees, rather than the linear desking, or ‘battery chicken’ approach that has been popular with many employers in the last few years

FM business relationships will be recast

The collapse of Carillion has brought the whole outsourcing issue into sharp focus. Many mid-sized FM providers are hoping that some of the large infrastructure players will be fully tied up covering the gaps caused by Carillion’s collapse and optimistic that this will provide some new opportunities for slightly smaller companies to take on larger contracts.

Some public sector procurement professionals may also realise that the tiny margins that they previously thought viable are actually a threat to the stability of their suppliers. This could be good news for the outsourced FM business which has been forced into providing lower and lower quotes, some of them simply uneconomic.

Robotics and wearable technology will become part of FM

This is the point at which the Internet of Things, the rapid advance of robotic technology and the willingness of users to have their data harvested by wearable technology may all come together. Facilities management companies will find themselves gathering data from users and employing it as feedback that they will then use to adjust the immediate environment and indeed, the entire FM offer. Certain areas, such as security, may see the early use of robotic “gatekeepers”, especially when staff are wearing smart passes and buildings are geared up to track them around the premises.

It’s an exciting but challenging time for the facilities management industry, and the managers in it are going to find themselves learning many new skills to stay on top of developments.


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Top tips for running the most effective facilities meeting possible

Facilities management team meetings can be lively, informative, must-attend events that end with everyone feeling more positive than when they arrived. But be honest - is that how yours are perceived? If you feel that the meeting has become a boring rigmarole that you have to go through each week or month, take a look at these tips for injecting energy and effectiveness into the time you spend with your team.

1. Be positive

If this is the one time that you get together with your staff, show that you are pleased to see or talk to them. Greet them positively, by name, to get the meeting off to a good start. This isn’t management school theory, it’s common politeness yet a surprising number of managers forget to do these basics and appear unaware of the poor impression it gives.

2. Plan for the meeting you want

If you have a written agenda, don’t just churn the standard one out, month after month. It gives everyone a tired feeling of “same old, same old”. So freshen up the agenda with something unexpected. Or if you find that a great deal of the meeting is taken up by run of the mill reports from each participant, ask them to circulate these by email beforehand and, instead, spend the time gathering ideas about how things can be improved.

3. Build engagement

Ask people to send in any items they’d like to see included on the agenda. And don’t forget to ask team members to raise any subjects they want to have included in future meetings. This will help build engagement.

Building a team isn’t always about activities that are specifically labeled as “team-building”. If members of the facilities management team work in different locations or do very different jobs, it’s quite possible that they have little clue about what another team member’s job involves. So use the meeting for some short presentations from team members about what their job entails and its highs and lows.

4. Include a bit of slack

If the meeting is a highly disciplined, timed march from one agenda item to the next, you may miss out on hearing about things that are currently enthusing, enraging, or exciting, your team. So build in a tea break or a general chat at the end; something that allows people to engage in a less formal manner. You’ll get to hear the gossip and will be able to “take the temperature” of the group by listening to them.

5. Use the opportunity for team development

It’s an ideal time for a 10-minute briefing that extends the team’s understanding of the role they play in the organization. Perhaps you could show them some new trends in equipment and how they might change the job in the next few years. If anyone’s been to a trade show, or on a training course, ask them to share what they saw or learned.

Use your team meetings to foster engagement and build the team’s knowledge and skills, as well as getting through day-to-day business. Your team will respond with a far more positive attitude, not just to the meeting but also to what they do every day.


Exit, sign,

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.


Blog - Catch 22

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.