In the shoes of a post pandemic facility manager: new concerns, expanded responsibilities, and available solutions
4 November, 2021
Facility managers never had it easy. Being responsible for both people and physical assets, they have always played a central and diverse role in making a business profitable.
In the early days, they spent most of their time making sure that all equipment (i.e central heating systems, radiators, air-conditioning, drinking water networks, sewage systems, elevators, pipelines) were in good condition and fixing problems as they arose. Versatility and handyman skills were highly regarded, as well as the capability to keep all maintenance and running costs under a tight budget.
As years went by and the competition became more aggressive, business owners requested them to achieve more with less. At the same time, the employees developed higher expectations from their working environment. In response to those needs, technologically advanced solutions came in to provide facility managers with the tools to do a more efficient job. Whether they chose to use a BMS (building management systems), an EMS (energy management systems) or an IoT-enabled Asset Management platform, their working life became much easier. Today, HVAC systems can be configured to automatically operate at the desired flow and temperature, while variable speed booster pumps and circulators may handle the need for the appropriate water pressure at the consumption terminals in a more cost-effective way. With the use of distributed sensors, all sorts of operational data can be collected and used for water and energy consumption tracking, as well as identification of failure patterns or energy savings opportunities. Additionally, built-in features give capabilities for dynamic task and space management.
However, the coming of COVID-19 created new needs and the complexity of effective facility management reached a whole different level. Below, we will help you identify the main areas that got affected and provide insight into viable solutions:
Health and Safety / Space Management
What has changed: People have always expected to work in a clean and tidy place, so that they can feel safe and perform their best. In the post pandemic era though, this request became more evident and the health and safety protocols even more demanding. Everyday sanitization of the working environment is mandatory and space occupancy must be recorded for immediate reaction to a COVID-19 incident.
Available solutions: Automated desk booking is a modern feature in facility management platforms that allows employees to interact remotely with the central space management system, usually through their smartphones. Since remote working became a new trend and most of the working environments turned to hybrid ones, it’s important to have a dynamic system that will guarantee the best possible space allocation to suit the occasional workers and visitors, as well as keeping track of which working spaces are used and by whom. This way, advanced cleaning services will be applied only to the recently occupied areas, saving time and money. But most importantly… If an employee is found infected, complete records of direct contacts will be produced to help protecting the rest of the personnel, initiate the HSE responsive procedures and facilitate the state to limit the virus propagation.
What has changed: Due to the frequently changing life and working conditions, facility managers and administrative personnel have to remain alert 24/7, to immediately react to the latest guidelines regarding the pandemic. In-building procedures need to be adjusted accordingly and prompt notifications should be sent even during out-of-office hours. On top of this, remotely working teams may struggle to remain synchronized and productive. At times, this seems like an impossible task and raises the insecurity and stress levels of all people involved.
Available solutions: Cloud-based task management tools give possibilities for easy re-scheduling and automatic linking of tasks based on specific rules. Usually, these tools can be integrated into third party systems (i.e ERP, MS Teams etc.), so that all updated information will be incorporated in the enterprise management platforms. The automated task delegation and workload distribution can help remotely working teams to stay on the same page and retain highly productive workflows, thus eliminating the impact of distributed geographic locations. Furthermore, business managers can make use of detailed analytics and critical KPIs monitoring, to manage their employees more effectively.
What has changed: In addition to the “traditional” need for effective energy and water management, new adjustments must be made on how a building’s resources are being used. By not restricting the lighting, heating, cooling and water circulation within the occupied areas, companies will suffer from unjustified operational and maintenance costs.
Available solutions: Modern energy management systems allow for real-time monitoring of energy consumption and energy profiling of buildings by collecting and analyzing data from energy meters. All this information is centrally stored and can be retracted to generate scheduled or ‘on-demand’ reports for energy audits. Moreover, artificial intelligence can be applied to further analyze historical data, produce comparative analytics for the effectiveness of energy interventions and build automatic procedures for energy consumption optimization.
Employees’ well-being and ESG
What has changed: Recent reports show that the way employees look at their employers has changed once and for all. Nowadays, the ability to operate in a flexible, hybrid working environment, where one can feel safe, creative and appreciated seems to be valued much higher than “traditional” tangible benefits. Furthermore, the incorporation and monitoring of ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) metrics becomes more and more critical for an organization’s brand identity.
Available solutions: Most elaborate facility management systems can monitor temperature, humidity, CO2, AQI, sound and light levels in real-time, using wireless sensors. Following this data collection, it is possible to automatically control the ventilation, dehumidification, heating and cooling of specific areas and create the best working conditions for the in-building employees. The addition of highly accurate space occupancy sensors can help to prevent overcrowding, while user friendly mobile applications allow the occupants to interact remotely with the main facility management system and digital signage dashboards can be used at the buildings’ entrances for security purposes. Moreover, the data records availability and the detailed analysis of different variables can help a company measure its performance against specific ESG KPIs.
As shown above, whatever the new implication in a post pandemic building’s operation, the asset management market has the right tools available. What is even more reassuring, is the fact that all these features can be found in single, cloud-based platforms, that take advantage of IoT connectivity, advanced AI algorithms and seamless interconnectivity with the rest of an enterprise’s ERP systems and IT infrastructure.
Here at Yodiwo, we have had multiple discussions with facility managers who deal with some or all the above pressing issues. Through this input and our commitment to provide easily configurable solutions to meet our clients’ alternating needs, we were able to further develop our smart facility management platform, “YodiFEM”. So, whether you are a facility manager looking for an advanced system you can rely on or a business owner who wants to empower his trusted personnel with the right tools to do their best work, we would be happy to share our knowledge with you on a free consultation call.