In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, CEOs have found themselves scrambling like never before to manage a shifting work landscape — including dealing with previously unplanned for expenses and changes to their operations.
With a seemingly ever-growing list of companies that have filed for bankruptcy in 2020, it is clear that taking measures to control costs is more important than ever before.
Businesses are looking at a diverse range of areas to reduce operating expenses, but as Costas Polycarpou, founder of Polyteck, notes, they may be overlooking a seemingly simple, yet high-impact area: facilities management.
What Is Facilities Management?
“Facilities management may be something that a lot of CEOs don’t think often about, but few things are more important for keeping your business running smoothly,” Polycarpou says.
“It encompasses all those systems that keep your building safe and efficient — HVAC, electrical, plumbing, pest control and other maintenance. They’re the things that most people don’t think about until there is a problem.”
These systems work together to keep the entire building functioning properly. They create a safe and comfortable working environment for employees, and ensure that all equipment has suitable operating conditions.
Facilities management also supports technology integration for a building — including IoT systems. Depending on the company’s needs, it may also entail establishing processes for key operational activities and providing basic support in addressing workplace issues with employees, such as adapting office layouts.
Whether they are involved in electrical rewiring or fire safety, a facilities managers (and those who work under them) are ultimately responsible for the efficiency of the building and the safety of those who work inside it.
Why Is Facilities Management So Important?
“As an employer, facilities management is a responsibility that falls directly on you,” Polycarpou notes. “Failure to adequately care for your facility could create dangerous conditions for your workers. It could result in a situation that causes vital equipment to break down. At the very least, it could mean money goes to waste due to poor energy efficiency, leaks or other issues.”
Sound facilities management can offset potential losses by identifying and mitigating maintenance issues before they get out of hand. Case in point: Energy Star notes that the average small business can reduce its utility costs by 10 to 30 percent through steps such as measuring energy performance, tuning up HVAC systems or installing lighting occupancy sensors. Such tasks fall directly under facilities management.
“Those everyday expenses related to your facility add up faster than you might expect,” Polycarpou says. “A leaky faucet in the bathroom does more than just waste water — it could also contribute to mold and mildew growth that requires costly remediation services. When facilities management is on top of things, such issues are nipped in the bud, helping you avoid major unexpected costs.”
Ultimately, facilities management is about continual improvement. By helping prevent serious repair issues within a building and improving energy efficiency, day to day operations continue uninterrupted. This allows other employees to maximize their productivity and drive meaningful results for the brand’s bottom line.
Improving the Process
While facilities management may seem like an area that is rooted firmly in the past, companies like Polyteck are actively working to bring it into the future — primarily through the internet of things (IoT).
“The IoT is a major boon for facilities management, especially when it comes to monitoring the performance of various building systems,” Polycarpou explains. “Continuous remote monitoring means that facility managers can get performance insights no matter where they are. Whether there’s an issue with HVAC performance or water tank temperatures, instant alerts allow for a faster, more effective response. It can also make it easier to identify strategies to further enhance energy efficiency for greater savings.”
For maintenance issues, a swift response is often what makes the difference between a minor tune-up and a more expensive repair. Polycarpou notes that one property developer was able to save £330k through a COVID-19 building maintenance plan that reduced energy costs using data gleaned from IoT monitoring.
“Remote monitoring also creates a series of checks and balances, as alerts can be sent to several relevant parties regarding a maintenance problem or energy usage concern,” Polycarpou adds. “Enhancing accountability ensures that problems are addressed in a timely manner, and that everyone has the information they need to make swift, accurate decisions.”
Though not necessarily a way of fully automizing the work, IoT integration essentially automates the monitoring process so facilities managers can focus more of their time on higher-level tasks, as well as repairs and maintenance that can only be taken care of by hand.
Preparing for the Future
While some companies may be shifting away from renting or owning commercial buildings in the future as they embrace a work from home model, many expect to continue to maintain some sort of physical office or retail space.
Though companies cannot control all aspects of what goes on regarding their building, investing in quality facilities management will ultimately give them a greater measure of financial stability. By proactively addressing maintenance and energy efficiency concerns, they will be better prepared for whatever the future might have in store.
(Syndicated press content is neither written, edited or endorsed by ED Times)