Top 10 Things Every Facility Manager Hates To Hear

The Top 10 Things Every Facility Manager Hates to Hear

Being a facilities manager is a little like being a kindergarten teacher. In my previous life as an educator, I was occasionally in kindergarten classrooms. It always felt like I was trying to keep 20 rubber ducks under water at the same time.  As soon as one crisis was diverted another popped up. Attention spans were short, and there was always a minimum of 19 vying for attention at the same time with the loudest getting their needs met quicker than the most important. Sound familiar, facility managers?

Facility managers come from many walks of life.  If you are lucky, you are part of a team who have different areas of expertise from HVAC, technology, design and maintenance. But, sometimes it’s just you.  Some have gone to school in a related field, but often you have been designated as a good problem solver or are able to get things done.

I have heard crazy requests of facility managers that tend to be one-offs. (I’m talking to you, requesting your office chair match one of the swatches in your “color me beautiful” palette circa 1980 fashion trend). But there are others that are universal themes that FM’s hear daily.

I’m not saying you are working with a bunch of kindergartners and I’ll talk about some of these in future blogs, but for now, see how many you can relate.

The top 10 things every facility manager hates to hear…

  1. We need to lower our square foot per person
  2. I have a new employee starting tomorrow
  3. I need collaborative space
  4. Our engagement surveys say that our employees hate our furniture
  5. We need to spruce this space up so we can recruit new employees
  6. Have you seen what (insert company name here; google, FB) is doing in their building….Can we do that here?
  7. I can’t get the technology to work in the conference room (47 times a day)
  8. We are out of ice (147 times a day)
  9. Can’t you just make these panels taller
  10. It’s too cold (or hot) in here

I forgot to mention that in a kindergarten classroom someone usually cries if they don’t get to sit where they want. Here is hoping that your day doesn’t start out with that.

Honey, They Shrunk My Office

Honey, They Shrunk My Office

When I wrote “The top 10 things every facility manager hates to hear…” the one item on the list that I know every facility manager has heard is: “We need to decrease our square foot per person.” In 2010, a typical office user had an average 225 square feet of workspace.  But by 2017, the average office worker is now in just 150 square feet.

All square feet are not created equal

Never take square footage at face value.  These numbers should only be used as a reference point.  Floor plan and layout matter.  Even if two spaces have the same square feet, they are not equal.   Stay away from spaces with a lot of diagonal or curved walls and find spaces that are more rectangular and efficiently laid out.  Column placement can be a huge challenge.  Depending on how they are spaced, it can drastically affect room sizes, layout, and how many workstations can fit on a floor.  Newer construction can have more open floorplates with smaller and fewer columns needed for support.  Whereas with older buildings, the floorplates are smaller with larger columns and more of them.

What is the reason for this big shrink?

This is a common tactic companies take in the attempt to save money.  The logic is if you put employees in smaller work stations and have them closer to each other, you will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in real estate.

There are other reasons that the office layout has changed:

  1. Technological Advancements – makes it easier to keep in touch through mobile devices, which means employees no longer need to spend their time plugged into a desk. Not to mention the fact that technology equipment keeps getting smaller. As a result, the amount of space each worker needs has dropped significantly.
  2. Telecommuting – an increasing number of employers are doing away with designated desks altogether and adding more open unreserved workstations for employees.
  3. Paperless Office – allows instant access to documents and keeps them better protected, frees up office space, financial savings for the company, helps with remote working, and helps reduce environmental impact.
  4. Hoteling – allows employees who work remotely or spend most of their day out of the office to have a quick touch-down workspace when they need to be at the office.
  5. Breaking Down Barriers – instead of all management in large private offices with windows, the windows have been opened for everyone and management is sitting in the open office with everyone else.

Workplace Culture

There is a belief by some that if your office layout is open with low panels, where everyone is accessible to each other, that communication and collaboration will improve.

Bosti Associates’ decades of research says that may not be true.   Bosti states that “The two workplace qualities with the strongest effect on performance and satisfaction are those supporting distraction-free work and supporting interactions with co-workers (especially impromptu ones.) Both of these top workplace design priorities must exist without compromising the other.

Is it possible to have a workplace that supports distraction-free work and easy interactions when they are complete opposites?  The answer is yes, but it varies for every organization.  It depends on how close group interaction areas need to be to the workstations; as well as if those group interaction areas include the whole organization or just a specific group.  Interactions are still important, so have areas that bring people together naturally with circulation spaces and destinations like cafeteria, coffee and mail areas, etc.  The designated interaction areas need to be separated from individual workspaces to avoid distractions.

“You have to start looking at space differently in terms of how people are working and where they’re spending their time.”

Employee Engagement & Satisfaction

4 Reasons Why Employee Engagement & Satisfaction is Beneficial For Your Company

Engaged employees are committed to the organization, feel passionate about their jobs, and put effort into their work.  After looking at multiple surveys conducted, typically only about a 1/3 of employees are engaged at work.  Converting those who are not engaged is one of the most effective tactics to increase performance and sustainable long-term growth for any company.

Three Types of Employees

  1. Engaged – They have a passion for work and feel a deep connection to their company. They move innovation and the organization forward.  These employees voluntarily go the extra mile.
  2. Not-Engaged – They are “checked out,” putting in the time, but no passion or energy, into their work. They are indifferent and neither like or dislike their work.
  3. Actively Disengaged – They are unhappy at work and can undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.

Employee Engagement vs. Employee Satisfaction

Employee engagement refers to the level of commitment, passion, and loyalty a worker has toward their work and company.  Whereas, employee satisfaction only shows how happy or content your employees are.  Employee satisfaction doesn’t indicate how invested the employees are or how hard they are working. For example, some employees are satisfied by just doing the bare minimum and receiving a paycheck.

Aspects Improved When Your Workforce is Engaged

  1. Company Culture/Work Environment – Providing a company mission that lines up with how people currently work and how they want to work will help contribute to engagement. It is important that the work environment is designed to achieve the organization’s core values.
  2. Recruit/Retain – Keeping top talent has become more difficult. An organization with a successful engagement strategy and engaged employees are more likely to retain that top talent as well as recruiting new talent.
  3. Boost Productivity and Quality of Work – Engaged employees are more innovative, collaborative, and enthusiastic in relation to their work, which lets them complete their goals more effectively. Organizations with higher levels of engaged employees outperform their competition.
  4. Better Customer Satisfaction – Passion is contagious, and customers will have a better experience when interacting with engaged employees.

Give Your Employees the Best Chance for Success

It all starts with receiving the proper training.  One thing that leads to disengagement is when they feel confused, frustrated, and pressure to catch up.  If your employees learn how to effectively do their job within the first 6 months, they will be more likely to stay.  This is also the time when new employees can bond with coworkers and connect with the company.

Something else that can help is to include them in accomplishing business goals and giving employees something to work towards.  Feeling their work is contributing to the success of their department and company allows for a more fulfilling and motivating work day.  Most want to do work that is meaningful and to make the most of their talents and strengths.  Employees who feel engaged work harder, stay longer, and motivate their coworkers to do the same.  Tapping into the individual will create a domino effect for the rest of your organization.

Are Headphones Effecting Your Company Collaboration 2

Are Headphones Effecting Your Company Collaboration?

If employees need to wear headphones to avoid distractions, has collaboration really been improved?  

A recent study found that over half of employees regularly use headphones in the office in order to concentrate.  Some are even coming into the office earlier just to have a few hours of focused work before the office fills up.

The open-office culture promotes collaboration, team building, and gaining valuable information from the co-workers sitting around them.  It is a more cost-effective way to design an office. However, there is a major downside. Open-offices are not always conducive for creative or deep thought work that are required from the rapidly growing, knowledge workers employee base. Often, to complete certain tasks and be productive, these knowledge workers find it hard to focus in this type of work environment.

What are these distractions costing your company?

Should workers have to wear headphones just to overcome poorly designed workspaces?  About 70 percent of employees admit to feeling distracted in their work environment. Think about what you pay each of these employees who are getting distracted multiple times a day.

Where your employees are positioned is a major factor to consider. Those sitting near heavy traffic areas or where people congregate will constantly be distracted.  Thoughtful space planning can minimize some of these distractions.

Keep the following things in mind when designing your space:

  • Avoid having workstations near conference rooms doors – If the group in the conference room aren’t done early or go over their time, the next group will be standing outside the door waiting to get in. This is also the place where people stay and chat before going their separate ways.
  • Avoid having one main aisle/ Consider how people will be moving through the area?
  • Avoid having workstations near breakrooms?
  • Can you separate public from private spaces?
  • Add sound masking

There is a fear that wearing headphones most of the time, will be interpreted as being antisocial, uncommunicative, or not engaged.  But, always being available to your co-workers means that you are always on the verge of a distraction.  Recovering from interruptions takes longer than you think.  It can take over 20 minutes to get back into the flow of the task you had been working on.

Your Office is Unique

What works best for your company may be different than another.

  1. Understand the tasks your employees spend most of their time
  2. Determine which tasks are most important?
  3. Create separate spaces for collaboration and quiet work
  4. Get feedback
  5. Be open to change if the space or layout stops working.

Remember, your employees are the ones doing the work and may have ideas that you haven’t considered.

While the idea of constant collaboration and access is good in theory, the reality is those that need to focus and produce need a zone that is distraction free.  If the only way to get quality work done is to create a barrier between others, maybe it’s time to design the work environment differently.