Facility managers need to work with an array of equipment, devices and processes to run a functioning workplace. This "ecosystem" can be overwhelming. Managers designing their own suite of tools and policies should approach the task in a well-thought-out manner, and take the time to properly assess what they need and how their tools will benefit overall office productivity. When designing your own facility management ecosystem, here are some steps to follow:
Assess your needs and problems
An ecosystem is resource-intensive by nature. It's comprised of all the elements in your workplace related to managing people and the space. This is why identifying needs and problems is important—failing to pinpoint specific issues can lead to expensive and ineffective investments. Managers should identify workplace issues through a combination of qualitative and quantitative data.
Employee preferences, team workflows, workplace data and business goals are just a few variables that should be considered when deciding to build an ecosystem.
While some managers have proprietary tools to run their space, many will need to rely on niche software integrations built specifically for facility management.
Consider maintenance issues
System maintenance can quickly balloon into a cost that can't be managed—especially if key pieces of equipment like servers or network routers fail. Managers should take into account different types of maintenance costs associated with the elements in their system. Working with SaaS software has the added benefit of taking maintenance responsibilities off your internal team. Managers who work with external contractors for maintenance should establish agreements for consistent maintenance and any emergency issues that may come up.
Address data needs
Data is now being seen as the new oil—being able to capture it and analyze it effectively is paramount to business success. Managers should work with other stakeholders in the workplace to determine what type of data needs to be tracked and how it can be done effectively. Software systems should be well-matched with workplace processes and devices to ensure that high quality data is not being lost. IoT devices, servers, cloud services, mobile devices, IT networks and in-person research are all critical components when it comes to building a strong data strategy into a facility ecosystem.
As a facility manager, you'll want to consistently keep track of usage rates and team needs.
Tracking office resources, empty office space, recurring team requests, software issues and so on can all help facility managers make informed decisions that will benefit their employees and coworkers. Be sure to have a system in place to produce robust analytical reports that help you gain valuable insight into how your space and resources are being used.
Anticipate future technologies
As a facility manager, you not only need to ensure that your current tools are working correctly, but you also must anticipate how new technologies may change the way offices work and employees interact. When building your own facility management ecosystem, ensure that your systems are adaptable and can be added to later on. Getting this right early on helps facility managers reduce the challenge and costs of making important infrastructure changes down the road. IoT devices are a strong example of technology that will evolve and require consistent repair and replacement. Already, smart systems like Nest, which learns your office’s heating and cooling needs, have changed facility manager's roles by automating temperature control in the office. While no system will be perfectly adaptable, FMs should take into account how the software they use may accommodate future updates.
Well-built ecosystems allow for major improvements in productivity and efficiency. Managers aiming to implement workplace systems must be considerate of the technical, business and cultural needs of the workplace. With these considerations in mind, you can create a facility management ecosystem that benefits your office and drives productivity for all your employees.
Article by Darin Herle, OfficeSpace