5 Things That Keep The Facility Manager Up At Night
There is no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has indelibly changed the world of work. While some organizations continue to operate remotely, some are gearing up to welcome back their workforce. While we celebrate the gradual return of normalcy, it is highly unlikely that we will go back to the same office landscape of previous years.
Well, at least not right away.
It is clear that the rules of engagement have altered in this new normal and with it, the role of the facilities manager has moved from an operational role to one that is more strategic.
As normalcy gradually returns, organizations have to prepare to embrace this new age of work – one where remote working is integrated seamlessly into the organization’s fabric. Facilities managers have to explore opportunities to enable remote work while also ensuring that they create the right “Hybrid workplace”. Managing these shifts and the new rules of the workplace is not an easy task. Amongst the many things, here are a few that are keeping most facility managers awake at night.
Provide a safe and secure workplace
Facility managers are responsible for all the activities that fall under running an office set up effectively. As the workforce begins its return into workplaces, facilities managers have the responsibility of ensuring that the workplace is safe and sanitized at all times.
Apart from putting cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting strategies in place, they have to look into their HVAC and forced air systems. Since forced air impacts the entire building, it becomes an essential pillar to secure to build a safer workplace. Consulting and following the right HVAC guidelines, ensuring replacement of regular filters with high-efficiency options, and scheduling regular service and maintenance of these to ensure the efficiency of the air systems become paramount and are keeping facility managers busy.
Reimagining the workplace
The new social distancing guidelines have led to the rise of the hybrid workspace – one where remote working and the physical office space co-exist. The facility managers also find themselves in a tug-of-war over the safe spaces v/s spaces that aren’t efficient under the new age of social distancing.
Along with this, many organizations are considering reducing their real-estate footprint. This task of reconfiguring the entire workspace, making adjustments to certain workspaces and real-estate planning fall under the umbrella of the facilities manager.
Facilities managers thus have to power the occupancy strategies of organizations to make sure that this new and hybrid work environment continues to enable collaboration and teamwork while helping employees to drive productivity. Developing a strong occupancy strategy becomes the key responsibility of the facility manager as they emerge as the first line of defence in ensuring the safety of the building and its inhabitants.
Maintain distributed assets
Facilities managers also have the challenge of staying on top of their asset portfolios to ensure coherent operations across distributed sites and locations. With the workforce working remotely, robust IT asset management becomes crucial.
Facilities managers now need greater clarity on the use of all their corporate assets. For this, they need all the asset details at their fingertips. To achieve this, archaic and manual asset management systems have to be replaced with a comprehensive asset management solution powered by technologies such as the cloud, smartphone scanner apps, and QR code tags.
With such an asset management solution, facilities managers and employees can simply click, tag, and audit assets easily. This further also influences business continuity by helping them with efficient asset tagging and tracking, data consolidation, and robust incident/ inventory management workflows that provide transparency and clarity.
Facilities managers also have the task to optimize maintenance operations so that they can reach drive operational efficiencies. For this, they need to capably track and manage the life cycle of their assets and inventory. Comprehensive asset management assists these initiatives and helps facilities managers take their operational efficiencies to new heights.
A good asset management solution also helps facilities managers take better care of the needs of their remote workforce by enabling QR code integration with the Helpdesk. The employee then just needs to scan the bar code to capture asset details and get the asset-related technical issues logged properly.
Employing an asset management solution that integrates with multiple HRMS solutions in the market is also of critical importance to the facilities manager now. This becomes a driver of seamless data connectivity as well as business continuity.
The COVID-19 impact can be seen clearly on facilities policies. Facilities managers now have to navigate the arduous task of mandating how interactions will take place within the workspace. Thus, along with mask mandates, workplace distancing parameters, and proper use of shared amenities, they also have to employ powerful visitor management systems that wow the visitors but also protect their workforce from the COVID impact.
An integrated visitor management solution using QR-code based check-in helps in creating a contactless access ecosystem. Face recognition software can also be enabled to make visitor check-in faster and seamless. Such a solution should also allow easy collection of self-declaration forms from every visitor detailing their travel history and medical conditions. These forms should also have easily customizable fields to suit the needs of the organization.
Facilities managers also have to make sure that the security department can capture and manage visitor data. They should be able to notify the host regarding visitor medical conditions, approve/ restrict visitor entry and instantly alert concerned departments when required.
Reinvent the helpdesk
The role of the facilities manager has become more strategic as they have to integrate the new office environment and needs of employees working on-site as well as remotely into the corporate culture. They have to ensure that employees are enabled at work, irrespective of their location. This involves increasing and improving their capacity to mitigate service requests proactively, which demands a reinvention of the quintessential helpdesk.
A powerful ticking system is essential in this hybrid work environment and can help remote teams address their concerns and queries easily. Facilities managers have to ensure that these systems have an intelligent dashboard designed for easy integration and accessibility. The solution should also be simple so that employees can raise, track and manage support tickets independently.
Since the world has become app-driven, it is time for the helpdesk to become mobile-friendly as well. Providing a self-service mobile application to help employees raise tickets anywhere, anytime increases employee productivity and enables them to solve their problems at their convenience.
They also have to deliver support to the employees when they need it and provide instant responses and notifications to the tickets they raise. Automating ticket allocation is another consideration point for the facilities manager to drive employee productivity and engagement. Auto-assigning tickets to the right available agents makes service resolution faster and hence impacts employee productivity positively.
Socrates once said, “the Secret of Change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”. This can be the clarion call for facilities managers across the globe as they figure out how to enable the workforce, keep them safe and prevent further disruption. With the watchword for 2020 being ‘safety management’, agile and comprehensive technology solutions can help facility managers have all the challenges that this new world of work brings forth and help them keep the workforce stay safe, enabled, and productive.