Top 4 Facility Manager Responsibilities Post-COVID-19
Facilities managers now face a significant shift in their responsibilities to ensure a safe return for businesses nationwide.
The COVID pandemic has changed a lot about our ways of life. How we work, interact, and socialize has evolved to meet our new socially distanced normal. For businesses, this has only naturally altered the way we use offices spaces and manage these facilities as a whole. For building and facilities managers, this has changed their whole scope of operations to meet new standards of wellbeing and comfort for their building's occupants.
Facilities managers now face a significant shift in their responsibilities and roles as businesses nationwide return to their offices. This major transition from an utterly work-from-home model has brought attention to new standards to ensure their safe return. Read on to learn the top 4 responsibilities facilities managers now have to set a new standard of building cleanliness and indoor air quality (IAQ).
#1 More Interdepartmental Collaboration
With a driving focus on work-from-home, sustainability, newly implemented technologies, and flexibility, facility managers will find that they must remain adaptable and resilient to these incoming changes.
One way to do this and ensure success in implementing these changes is through a deeper interdepartmental alignment within a company. By being better connected with other departments in your company, facility managers (FMs) will find more success throughout these changes.
The human resources (HR) department, information technology (IT), production, accounting and finance, marketing (to an extent), and anything else related to production and operations will need to be kept a short phone call away.
Inter-collaboration with these departments will signify that your teams are prepared to address challenges and progress through a collaborative approach. This will be necessary unless FMs expect to learn more about a company's technological and financial drivers.
#2 More Focus On Driving a Healthy Building
One of the most significant shifts throughout the pandemic for FMs is the focus on healthy buildings. Healthy buildings involve the maintenance and mitigation of health and safety in a building, with all the occupants, and throughout the entire operational lifecycle.
There are a few areas where FMs will approach establishing healthy buildings:
- Implementing sustainability within operations.
- Creating a better work-life-health focus.
- Establish areas of cost savings.
- Promoting work-from-home and hybrid models
- Improved indoor air quality (IAQ) and indoor environmental quality (IEQ) as a business driver.
- Finding ways to improve workplace quality cost-effectively and for sustainability purposes (multifaceted) such as cost-effective HVAC retrofitting (HVAC induct) or the use of portable air purifiers for cleaner air.
- Mitigating governmental regulations around workplace health and safety (OSHA, NIOSH, and EISA).
- Finding more ways to improve building cleanliness (effective for the time and cost) and air exchanges per hour.
When assessing how their building can be retrofitted or upgraded for sustainability FMs should begin by:
- Analyzing the current sustainability of the building and its production levels.
- Updating assets for energy efficiency and cleanliness, including HVAC and entire systems.
- Testing eco-friendly cleaning supplies.
- Performing preventative maintenance (which could probably be the best thing your facility could do, if you aren't already).
- Trying to implement recycling practices (for refrigerant, large equipment, batteries, and lights).
- Sourcing green-focused contractors in B2B partnerships.
Unfortunately, so many of these changes require many resources, so FMs will have to control their energy and personnel expenditure in making this shift. FMs should look to more cost-effective ways to hit these new business drivers, such as HVAC assessments, industrial hygienists, and air purifier technologies.
#3 Owning The Workplace Experience
Historically, FMs have not necessarily been responsible for their facility occupants' wellbeing (other than physical health reasons). However, specific trends suggest that FMs should comprehensively look at the workplace experience as one of the top responsibilities.
The workplace experience refers to finding an optimal approach for employees to do their work. Therefore, this will go beyond health standards and regulations to find ways of incorporating IEQ improvements, improvements for comfort, and looking at the use of space and technology for better business outcomes.
Yes, the workplace experience is more holistic, and we strongly encourage FMs to take this seriously! FMs might be looking at the use of the space and if it could be changed for improved employee productivity and engagement, greater retention, and lower real estate costs.
FMs should expect to do the same with technological inputs and reassessing how that can be improved. You would do well to be more aligned with HR here and to understand why employees are leaving and if there are areas of workplace quality that fall under your responsibilities that could be improved.
#4 Deployment of a Workplace Strategy
FMs might already be involved in workplace strategies. Still, now we are seeing that they are essential and play a pivotal role in optimizing the operational efficiency of a facility. FMs might be expected to come up with and deploy a workplace strategy, which can come with its challenges.
If more employees participate in a remote working model, then FMs will be expected to approach the transition and find the best ways to lower overall estate costs. FMs will also need to determine what appropriate changes need to be made from a financial and business driver's perspective if employees transition into the office.
FMs that come up with successful workplace strategies will be shifting into a higher role and rewarded. However, for the most part, FMs will be in charge of deploying these strategies, ensuring that all the aspects of the strategy are completed during checks and hosting reassessments for its success.
Staying on Top of Changing Tides
While the COVID pandemic has changed a lot about how we live, FMs would do well to stay flexible to these changes, at least for the interim. Since all industries will be affected by these changing tides, experts recommend:
- Taking employee input, especially when reentering the workplace following the pandemic shut-downs.
- Conducting a space analysis to determine occupancy levels, amenity space usage, and identify areas for future growth.
- Strongly consider technology as a tool for growth and change.
- Team restacking based on the space available (this will also help with the inter-departmental collaboration that is needed).
- Managing moves in the office space and making it is well-coordinated and organized.
- Communicate often, clearly, and practice empathy when doing so.
FMs will experience a large amount of change as many of their responsibilities will be changed or maintained, all while mitigating shifts, managing personnel, and reassuring workers.
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