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Soaring energy prices, labor shortage, and high property maintenance costs, all coupled with the pandemic continuation, put facility managers under pressure.
The good news is that proper facility planning and management can increase commercial property value by reducing rental and maintenance costs, saving energy, extending the life of the equipment, and boosting space utilization. They also increase employee satisfaction, resulting in productivity, hence business growth.
Facility management is a part of real estate management and includes practices focusing on the maintenance of real estate assets. It includes space planning and management, equipment maintenance, employee safety and property security, and vendor and contractor management.
Facility management contributes to the growth of a company by helping it utilize and operate the space efficiently, resulting in lower energy consumption, reduced lease costs, and proper resource allocation.
Functional equipment, decluttered spaces, safe, well-designed and comfortable surroundings all add to employee satisfaction, hence higher motivation, team collaboration, and productivity.
Facility managers or also called space planners are professionals whose main activities encompass optimizing workspace efficiency and the use of physical assets like office equipment, ensuring the safety of the building and its maintenance, while also communicating with suppliers, property owners, contractors, and vendors.
Other than that, facility managers are responsible for implementing cost-effective measures related to space planning and equipment use, its maintenance and optimization.
Real estate is everywhere, and so are space planning and management professionals. Hence, no wonder one will find facility managers in almost every industry or company that relies heavily on the use of space and complex hardware that requires constant maintenance.
Both the inflation rate being 6.5 and the rental prices predicted to have grown to 8.4% in a few months discourage potential property buyers and renters from investing in real estate. No wonder some businesses have already stopped operating because of the increased costs, resulting in higher dismissal rates and frequent employee layoffs.
With everything aforesaid, low job security and lower pay emerge, resulting in a labor shortage. In real estate, labor shortage means that more properties are assigned to a facility manager instead of a company hiring more space planning specialists. This leads to more facility management tasks, hence burnout and poor organization. Needless to say, these challenges need a solution that automates project management and allows facility planners to track, process, and keep data in one place.
What labor shortage also means is the lack of other property specialists a facility manager must hire. For instance, hiring a team of technicians for a refurbishment session might take weeks instead of hours if the company you’re contacting has already dismissed a part of its staff. With less availability of property specialists comes a long wait time, hence the need for a solution that eliminates delays in services by automatically scheduling maintenance sessions and sending supply requests to vendors whose contacts are safely stored in one place and can be quickly accessed.
COVID-19 added new challenges to workplace space management for sure.
Most facility managers had to solve the pandemic conundrum by reconfiguring the entire floor plan while adding new seating arrangements with social distancing in mind and safe work surroundings.
Creating a safe work environment by sanitization commonly includes hiring cleaning teams and ensuring the janitorial schedule works, purchasing sanitizers for the office equipment and air systems for better air quality. All these solutions require extra costs, which not all companies have at their disposal.
Another new normal caused by COVID-19 is a ‘blended workforce.’ And providing the remote workers with the tech tools they need for telecommuting and ensuring tools like laptops are in good condition are tasks of a facility manager.
It is also a core responsibility of a facility manager to make sure that when an employee decides to come to the office, they have a free work desk and the necessary equipment – all can be done with a booking tool as an example where employees can see the occupancy and book a desk or hardware for work.
Material shortages and supply chain delays all stem from soaring prices for materials and increased transportation costs. With everything considered, prices for maintenance and repair sessions have peaked as well.
Replacing a few floorboards or the leaking faucet in the bathroom might take twice the pre-crisis price. This is where challenges for facility managers start. Not only one has to find a team of technicians despite the labor shortage, but also make sure the suppliers deliver the materials for repairs in time. This is where a solution that allows you to track supply expenses and send automatic requests can save you time and costs.
Keeping contacts of a few suppliers or HVAC vendors stored in one place and managed with technology to make sure at least one is available when the need for repair arises turns into a bare necessity.
Have you ever seen a coworking space where no one occupies the table near the entrance or the kitchen zone? Such a small issue at first sight leads to underused space and equipment that results in high costs. Instead of the strain being evenly distributed to all computers, it is concentrated on a few equipment pieces, leading to their quick damage and expensive repair.
The same would happen to a hospital where diagnostic rooms are too far from the doctors’ offices, and the staff uses the equipment in one room instead of using it in other rooms as well.
Not impressed? Let’s check bigger numbers. What if the industrial property you operate, let’s say, a warehouse, has an empty room that other businesses can rent? What if your property has space that can be leased to parking lot companies? Seems like you might be losing an opportunity to make more money if you don’t know which space is underutilized.
On the contrary, businesses with proper space planning tools can increase commercial property value by envisioning the space whether in the form of floor or site plans with space variables like Location, Type, Occupancy, and Square Feet in plain sight.
Electricity bills rose around 15% last year in the US, and gas bills went up to 33%. Considering that utility costs make up a third of property operating costs, the conundrum the space planners must solve is how to keep businesses going with cheap renewable electricity and any smart tech that maximizes its use. And sometimes switching to energy providers with lower-than-average pricing is not enough.
Sure, you might invest in energy-saving equipment and smart tech, but the key solution is to ensure the solutions you buy fit into the property space. Here, tools that envision the space with its variables and allow you to collect and manage data in the form of reports and statistics might be helpful.
It often happens that a company might have 10 printers with 8 of them being in good health and 2 in constant repair. Why does it happen? If there were no errors in the manufacturing process, then a good guess is that those 2 printers are used most often.
If the 8 printing machines are in different rooms, far from the employee space, then no wonder that employees use those two printers as they’re the closest. With the use of space planning tools that help you see the location of space objects on a screen, you can place them differently and maximize the use of all equipment.
Adding equipment inspections to the space management practices is a good idea as well. With the right tools, one can collect data on the equipment used (mostly from sensors) and predict whether there is a high chance of wear and tear long before it happens – repairing the equipment is less expensive than replacing it with the new one, right?
Other reasons for overused and underused equipment pieces might lie in the surroundings. If employees are reluctant to use the computers in spaces with bad lighting, drafts, and uncomfortable furniture, then no wonder that they overuse the equipment placed in well-lit locations with chairs that roll.
The good news is that management tools provide a facility manager with an opportunity to oversee the surroundings, collect data on space utilization, and gather feedback from the space users without getting stuck in costly repairs and the endless search for tech providers with clear warranty policies.
Making business needs and space planning align with each other is the core idea of facility management. And to do so, one must know their space well.
For instance, do you really need the second floor which only 10 out of 100 employees use? If a tool that envisions your space shows low occupancy rates, you might want to relocate them to the area with higher occupancy rates, a decision that will save you rent costs.
When a facility manager knows their space and its variables, all conveniently organized by a reporting software and stored in one place, they can envision which parts of the office might benefit from hot desking and collaborative or multifunctional workspaces. Why not turn the conference room into a place which other employees can use if there are no meetings? Turning an open lounge area into a collaborative space where employees can meet and brainstorm on projects is also a good idea.
Seeing the storage spaces on floor plan drafts will also help you to check whether you can add vertical storage solutions like multiple shelves and maximize space efficiency. What if the space left after the shelf’s installation is enough to set up a desk and maximize the use of the computer or printing machine everyone has forgotten about?
We’ve got 2 decades of expertise in real estate and SaaS development. Trust your project to Ascendix professionals.
Happy employees don’t waste time on watercooler conversations – they generate ideas while staying motivated and productive. That’s why investing in comfortable and functional surroundings is a no-brainer.
Cluttered spaces are often associated with increased stress, and they certainly don’t contribute to great focus. In the end, the work performance suffers, and what can be done in an hour takes the whole day on average. Meanwhile, decluttering the spaces will result in high focus, hence productivity.
Designated workspaces lead to high satisfaction as well. When there is a separate room for calling a customer, an employee can use it instead of being stuck in a noisy area – they’ll be glad to perform their job responsibilities without being annoyed. With proper tools, you can gather feedback after implementing the changes and later track and measure them to conclude whether the change was effective. For instance, find out whether employee satisfaction increased or not like in the case above.
Open workspaces, shared desks, and collaboration areas will boost a sense of community. At the same time, employees will know that there is always a designated space for sharing ideas without getting distracted by external noise.
Being able to gather the data on the most used spaces allows a facility manager to implement measures that reduce utility bills and maximize the use of resources like water and energy.
For instance, the most used bathrooms have the highest probability of leaky faucets. Knowing which bathrooms are used most will allow the space manager to install automatic faucets, hence preventing leakage and reducing water bills.
The same goes for LED lighting or bulbs with motion sensors that not only draw less power but reduce the planner’s worries about employees forgetting to turn off the lights, resulting in high electricity bills.
Other than that, facility managers can invest in office energy-efficient equipment like monitors that need less power to operate in a sleep or off mode or printers with automatic shut-off modes. With proper space management, you can collect and manage the data on the equipment that is being used most often.
Hiring construction teams is a part of facility management as well. Here, effective space planning allows facility managers to ensure the construction workers follow building regulations, and energy use and waste disposal requirements, avoiding penalties and creating sustainable surroundings.
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In the long run, both proper planning and facility management in real estate lead to cost reduction in maintenance works.
When all parts of the space are utilized in a balanced way, the wear and tear of what would have been an overutilized space is prevented.
Let’s say, during one of the property inspections and equipment maintenance checks a facility manager collects data on the traffic and generates a report that helps them identify the highest traffic areas requiring durable flooring installation. With this knowledge and a proper tool, they can start a new project, contact suppliers from the database, set tasks, notifications, and deadline reminders to repair teams and vendors to ensure the project’s timely completion.
Having a software that helps a facility manager understand how the property is utilized and the costs associated with its utilization allows them to timely install energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems to reduce costs on the maintenance of heating and cooling systems or directly communicate the need for sustainable heat-preserving materials to construction teams (again, lower electricity and gas costs).
An opportunity to foresee risks related to property and staff safety during the planning stage is exactly why proper space management is so important.
If a facility manager has a good grasp of the property zones and their characteristics, all provided by tools like floor plan software, they can identify potential high-risk zones like entrance areas and parking lots and install lighting and security cameras there. The same goes for access control systems and visitor management tools to prevent criminal activity or quickly find the culprit if such happens.
Understanding the property structure also contributes to emergency preparation – for instance, making sure everyone can access different exits to avoid crowding in case of fire.
Being able to gather data on the issues related to the use of office furniture and equipment also helps facility managers to replace the old furniture with ergonomic one to prevent employees’ injury.
In times of a heavy workload caused by labor shortage, automation will definitely save you time. Facility management tools that automate tasks are essential if there are a few properties to be managed simultaneously with multiple vendors, suppliers, and others involved.
Planning and management software can automate scheduling and task management, helping facility managers to set tasks and reminders faster, schedule repairs or inspections, and track the project progress with all data kept in one place.
Tools like messaging apps and videoconferencing platforms add remote collaboration without the risk of getting exposed to the virus.
Project management tools help facility managers keep everything in control remotely by setting tasks with deadline reminders, allocating resources like equipment and personnel, and tracking the project progress, budget spending, and resource use.
Condition monitoring sensors help facility managers gather data on the equipment health, while traffic and occupancy sensors allow space managers to identify underutilized and overused spaces.
Inventory-focused project management systems help companies control the orders and deliveries of supplies, ensuring a company doesn’t overstock and spend more than required. Other tools like asset tracking software helps facility managers determine the use of company’s assets and maximize space efficiency.
Smart building automation technology assists facility managers in monitoring property’s health and collecting data on the use of energy in real-time. For example, such a tool can control the lighting system, automating when it switches on and off depending on the occupancy and amount of natural light.
Meanwhile, adding software that analyses and visualizes the data gathered on energy consumption in the form of charts and reports will help you make better decisions.
Ascendix is a Texas-based team of professionals dedicated to developing solutions that digitize real estate management. We help facility managers by providing floor plan software that assist users in space optimization, custom CRM systems that help facility managers store and manage valuable data in one place, custom reporting software and document generation tools for complex data visualization and document generation among many other solutions.
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The top challenges in real estate facility management are labor shortage and low pay, expensive repairs, supplies, and equipment maintenance, and ineffective space utilization. Other challenges are hybrid workplace models and the need for cheap but sustainable energy.
Proper planning can increase the value of commercial property by helping facility managers to find out overutilized and underutilized spaces along with space usage and energy consumption patterns.
The top benefits of space planning and management are space optimization, lower rental and property maintenance costs, reduced energy consumption, and higher employee satisfaction.
Tania is a fan of technologies and an expert in writing about them. In her content, she shares insights into new trends and proptech solutions in real estate that can help your business thrive while keeping your customers content (pun intended).
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