Are you a Facility Manager who’s tired of working every weekend?

Kevin Parker, MD of Space-pod, argues the case for giving your Facility Manager the weekend off.

So where would you rather be at the weekend, with your family and friends or at your workstation, actually probably not the best question to ask, maybe you’d rather be at the football or the park, now that’s a better question!

We’re still constantly amazed at the number of Facility Manager (FM’s) we meet that, having done a full weeks work, then spend the weekend, or even worse are expected to spend the weekend attending to office churn projects.

Out of hours office churn‘ is the term that we use for moving, re-fitting or relocating occupied office environments at a time when they’re not being used, typically overnight or at the weekend. With the current trend for saturated office space with smaller workstations, and better space utilisation, following the introduction of flat screens and smarter ways of working, hot desking, hoteling etc decant or ‘swing space’ is a thing of the past which, in turn makes your typical churn project a more involved process – often requiring a safe set of hands to deliver it properly and ensure everything is in place to be operational first thing Monday when the staff return. Factor in the requirement to relocate IT, add power and data and patch the cabinet and it’s easy to see why some FM’s want to stay close. Add any form of construction to the mix and now you’re starting to see risk to the business.

Organising this sort of project is difficult and usually extremely frustrating, even for the most experienced facility manager, relying on a variety of sub contractors to work either alongside each other or sequentially to deliver a project in a condensed timescale with little scope for error or delay.
There is another way to achieve this, using dedicated specialist contractors used to working under pressure to deliver rapid churn in occupied offices – ‘out of hours’. This successful out of hours churn depends on a perfect combination of planning, manpower and resources. Specialist contractors, like Space-pod, can play an important part in being an outsourced part of the FM team working to deliver rapid change in your occupied space. Typically the process starts long before the period of carrying out the works, be it overnight, mid week or at the weekend. Behind the scenes during and lead-up to the refit or move your contractor will work with the FM or project team to plan every last detail of the work to be carried out. This would normally range from I.T. disconnect/re-connect to furniture disposal/installation or re-configuration of existing, supplying of move crates, drawings, labels and spreadsheets. If construction is required or a rolling re-fit, then internal products such as carpeting, partitioning and infrastructure services are added to the mix, all the time building a cross section of requirement that represents the physical delivery required.

Once this has been identified and site and access parameters considered it is possible to start looking at what can physically be delivered during a closure period. As an example typically in city centre locations with reasonable access it is possible to relocate/refit between 50 and 160 desk positions dependant on the complexity of the requirement. An environment requiring demolition, new carpet, decoration, new furniture, modifications/additions to power and data would be nearer the 50-person delivery over a typical weekend. Environments requiring a churn of personnel, I.T. and storage would be nearer a 160-person delivery, sometimes higher.

So how do you achieve this?  Firstly you need a facility manager needs a specialist contractor that is dedicated to this type of work and you should expect to find that they have an in-house team with a combination of strong design and planning skills, supported by a strong on-site team who understand what is required. Often the on-site team will apply a shop fit labour model where each of the team is multi-skilled in what they can do, no electrician waiting for the carpet fitter waiting for the chippie etc. Usually the team starts by planning everything to the finest detail using proven project planning tools, including spreadsheets, drawings and schedules of exactly what needs to be done and where and when it needs to be done. Each element of the works is pre-planned, walked-through and documented so the site time as far as practical becomes 100% implementation.

Now here’s the win for a busy facility manager: If you find a good contractor with the right design ethos, they can often design an implementation plan that doesn’t require swing space and will often deliver the whole project with each person only moving once, to their final positions. Just imagine the cost reduction in avoiding temporary moves, and the user experience of no temporary decant for your personnel. Be careful here though because not all sub-contractors have the expertise to deliver this, its well worth asking the question when selecting your contractor and asking to speak to previous client’s to see how they deliver. Once the delivery plan has been agreed and the staff locations set, then the site team can swing into action as the office closes with each member knowing exactly what is required, all working calmly and efficiently with project management on site charting progress against the carefully prepared work plan. If I.T. is being removed from desks there is normally a clear documented process that ensures the I.T. is re-configured on the new desk exactly as it was left by the user when they left the office. Any issues with missing IT when they return can be easily confirmed by looking at the project documentation. This alone can save FM’s countless hour’s chasing ghosts on a Monday morning. Depending on the complexity of the requirement the contractor will work in carefully co-ordinated shifts to keep the project on track through the work cycle with carefully monitored waypoints en route.
Once you have experienced working like this and have the trust in your chosen contractor then it is perfectly feasible to be able to leave site and let the contractor deliver against program with nothing more than an escalation number should anything untoward happen and require your intervention, so go on take the weekend off and see your family and friends, or even watch the football!