Why You Should Retro Commission Your Office Building

Retro commissioning is a way to improve a building’s efficiency and systems operations. It is when an existing building is examined and updated to improve the cooperation between the equipment and its occupant’s comfort. Of course, cosmetics and physical appearance is always something to consider, but retro commissioning also heavily focuses on the internal functioning and design of a building. By retro commissioning your building, you reap valuable benefits. These benefits range from reducing costs to fixing any past flaws to increasing efficiency and comfort of the people using the space.

Here are some main reasons you should Retro Commission your office building:

·         Design Flaws are uncovered when a building is being analyzed during a plan for retro commissioning. Retro commissioning begins with identifying what is currently in need of improvement in an existing space. It could be faulty piping or leaking valves, poor wiring all the way to thermostat malfunctions and switches. Design flaws that exist can drive up costs of building operations and effect occupant comfort in a negative way.

·         Reducing costs is a huge benefit that comes from retro commissioning your building. Reducing costs is always a bonus for any sized company. Retro commissioning helps with reducing costs by improving on energy consumption as well as equipment and systems operations. As a byproduct of retro commissioning that affects the reduction of costs is being able to extend equipment life.  By improving the existing building’s systems and operations, you are improving building efficiency as well.

·         Improved Efficiency is one of the main advantages to retro commissioning. Improved efficiency includes better lighting, more up-to-date equipment, better heating and cooling systems and more advanced and accurate controls and air quality. A retro commissioned office building has more efficient operations that positively effect both time and money. Retro commissioning the existing space will evaluate the existing space and help what equipment could be more efficient for the building overall.  

·         Going Green goes along with improving efficiency, but is a huge benefit to retro commissioning. A retro commissioned building will, on average, lower energy costs by 15%. That is simply by taking the existing space and improving it. This in turn, reduces operating expenses by having more efficient equipment.

·         Occupant comfort plays an integral role when retro commissioning. Arguably the most important factor, the occupants and guests inside a building are the ones who benefit from a more efficient space. Also, looking at equipment such as heating and cooling systems, can improve air quality. Looking at the space, a redesign could open up space previously not used to result in increased comfort as well. Retro commissioning improves both the functionality, wellness and productivity of everyone in the occupied space.

Retro commissioning has a multitude of beneficial results that improve upon many important factors that go into a successful workplace and workflow. Are you wondering how your office space can benefit from retro commissioning through better efficiency and occupation comfort? Contact HF Planners today to have our team of adept facility managers let you know how your space can improve.

How to Realign Expectations when They Become Unrealistic

As a facility manager, managing expectations is a large part of the job. You may take all the precautions necessary to set straight any unrealistic expectations from the start, but what happens when in the middle of a project, communications dwindle and expectations become unaligned between the facility manager and the end user? Here are some tips to making expectations realistic if they have become unrealistic:

1. Be Proactive. There is no reason to fixate on the past, so as the facility manager is up to you to look to the future. Being proactive regarding the next step will help with moving forward towards a successful end goal. Be practical with a set plan on what expectations need attention. Begin an open line of communication with the end user and explain what progress has been made and any updated deadlines. Road bumps happen, but it is up to the facility manager to make sure that the end user is informed and up-to-date with any new information or deadlines.

2. Track Progress. A facility manager will most likely have a great support team that knows their individual jobs toward the overall end goal. However, a skilled facility manager will not only understand the expectations of the end user, but they would also understand the expectations the team has of the project, both as a whole and individually. By tracking progress, and knowing the small deadlines, the facility manager can inform the team of what the progress towards the end project is like. Have a standardized checklist, and even if you have fallen behind, know that the checklist is there to help get back on track. Is it also important to continue to share the progress of the checklist with all team members to manage the expectations accordingly.

3. Take responsibility. We all make mistakes; it is almost inevitable. A facility manager is in charge of managing the project from start to finish, so encountering an obstacle, whether it is big or small is expected. The expectations of a project are not the only things that need to be managed, but the expectations of a facility manager’s work are something to consider as well. A facility manager that handles a slipup with grace is much more desirable than one that points fingers and blames team members. Taking responsibility for all aspects of the project, good or bad, a facility manager will manage expectations successfully.

4.  Learn professional empathy. This point is aligned with taking responsibility, but a crucial part of realigning expectations throughout the duration of a project is learning how to handle expectations once they have become unrealistic. As a kid you were told to put yourself into someone else’s shoes to understand their perspective. As a facility manager, pretend it is your company that you are facility managing for. A company has naturally high expectations from the start, and expectations are dynamic through the project duration. Learning professional empathy, and understanding how to incorporate it into managing expectations, will settle any unrealistic ones in the process by offering perspective.

Mistakes and bumps in the road will most likely occur during any project, but it is up to the facility manager to manage the expectations on how the situation is handled. A skilled facility manager will know exactly how to manage the expectations and realign them throughout the process, and will make the process as seamless as possible. At HF Planners, we have adept facility managers that are prepared for any type of bump that could impose on a project, and are able to handle it with ease. Call HF Planners today to see how we can manage your project and meet all of your expectations!

How a Dacility Manager Learns Which Expectations to Manage

As a facility manager, it is imperative to know what expectations you are expected to manage. You are in charge of spearheading the project and ensuring a satisfied finished outcome within time and budget constraints all while keeping the end user happy. Where does a facility manager begin to learn and understand which expectations to manage? Here are four ways to learn how to be the best facility manager possible through managing expectations:

1. Standardization: There are processes that have taken place prior to ensure that each benchmark is completed successfully. Learning the standardization of a facility management process, from design to planning to installation is a useful thing to understand when managing expectations. Familiarizing yourself with the skeleton of a normal workflow behind each project will help set a familiar precedent that will guarantee end user satisfaction because there will be a clear path to completion from the start. The end user will have defined expectations from the start.

2. Networking: A facility manager has to manage the expectations of a project, but of themselves as well. They are expected to have the tools ready and sharp to complete a successful project. Learning how to network will help expedite processes and help the overall project. A facility manager is responsible for procurement and knowing vendors. Networking is a way to building strong relationships and knowledge of competitors, prices, and working styles. This familiarity helps a facility manager understand what expectations need to be managed and how to do so by having the right connections ready for any project they may encounter.

3. Practice Sharing: Naturally, there will always be competition to be the best facility manager, but why not make friends in the process? A mentor, a friend, or simply other colleagues, will have tips and anecdotes from past projects. Learning and sharing is key to understanding what the best practices are for managing expectations. Knowing what went well, and even what might have gone wrong, adds to the knowledge of managing expectations and how a facility manager can better themselves for future opportunities.

4.  Feedback: Learning how to take feedback, both positive and negative, is a crucial learning step to managing expectations. Each end user will have their own reservations about a project, but as a facility manager it is crucial to know what went well and what did not. Learning and growing from past experiences will dictate which expectations need to be addressed from the start. Feedback can be included with networking and practice sharing, because it can include the feedback of all facility managers. This is a vital step to learning how to manage expectations.

Learning how to manage expectations as a facility manager can be difficult, but imperative to become successful. A facility manager gains their knowledge on how to manage expectations through experience, but also through the steps above! At HF Planners, we have experienced facility managers that are skilled in managing expectations. Call us today to ensure that your next project will be managed seamlessly from start to finish.

The Top Five Priorities of a Facility Manager to Managing Expectations

One of the most important skills as a facility manager is managing expectations. It is difficult to prioritize tasks while maintaining a happy workplace, but it is completely doable! Keeping these five points in mind, expectations will be managed, and satisfaction will be at an all-time high.

1. Safety and Compliances

Safety and compliances are at the top of the list for ensuring the well-being and security of clients and employees, as well as everyone working in a facility. All bad plumbing, electrical, and design flaws should be of immediate concern and at the top of the list. The expectation here is that, as a facility manager, you are maintaining a safe working environment for all parties. Keeping up with compliances and codes will manage the expectations that you care about your work.

2. Understanding the End User’s Final Goal

Understanding what the end user wants is a large component of the job as a facility manager! Yes, you are there to do your job, but no project is the same and expected outcomes may differ from project to project. You are in the service industry, as a facility manager, serving up a great outcome according to the end-user is what you should strive for! Manage their expectations from the get-go and take the time to fully comprehend what the final results should be according to the project.

3. Flexibility with Communication Styles

This ties into being able to understand the goals and wishes for the project and managing the expectations in the process. As a facility manager, there should be the understanding that you are working for the end user. Communicate early on what you expect from them and ask what they expect of you. Be clear with how you work, what type of communication you prefer, and also let the customers communicate how they like as well.

4. Longevity versus a Quick Fix

As stated above, you are expected to complete the job and manage expectations in the process. You are there to complete the job with as a few problems as possible on the day to day basis while keeping the end goal in mind. With that said, it is important to look at the end goal in terms of longevity instead of using quick fixes. Everyone loves instant gratification, but it is prudent to look to the future satisfaction. A quick fix might lead to more problems down the road, but a solution that may take more time and effort might be better for client satisfaction for the long term.

5. Documentation

One of the last priorities to keep in mind would be keeping everything documented. As a facility manager it is your job to know what the client said and wants. Do not walk around saying that you will remember what was said in a meeting or on the phone. Documentation of conversations, contracts, compliances, and all the extraneous materials needed to get the job done ensures a higher satisfaction. This will manage the end user’s expectation by reassuring that they are in the right hands and can trust that the job will be done well.

Keeping the priorities of a facility manager in mind, expectations can be properly managed and client satisfaction can be met! Whether it’s abiding by security guidelines, complying with a final vision, supervising and maintaining open communication, planning for a successful future, or making sure there is documentation to refer back to, HF Planners has experienced facility managers to manage all of your expectations. Need help starting a project? Contact us today to find out how we can help keep projects moving and on time to meet the deadlines.   

Managing Expectations 101

In an ideal workplace, you understand exactly what is expected of you and what you expect from the people around you. However, often times things are lost in translation or simply not stated at all. There is a way to hone in on the skill that eradicates all doubts and unknowns for employees and employers expecting outcomes. This skill is called managing expectations. At any level, you have the opportunity to clearly lay out the plans and rules about what is expected of your employees, bosses or colleagues from the start! Managing expectations is an underrated skill that ensures satisfaction on all ends from manager to employee to customer. Here are a few sure ways to sharpen the tools you need to help with managing expectations:

1. This is an applicable statement for most things in life: it is best not to make assumptions. Do not assume someone understands completely without asking. It is wise not to assume the person completing the task will do everything perfectly, and do not assume that everything will occur seamlessly. With that being said, it is best to be clear with everything from the start. Set clear guidelines and write them down either on paper or via email to set the standard. Something that the employee will be able to refer back to after instructions were given is an extremely useful system.

2. Be realistic. Did you hire humans or robots? Chances are you hired humans, and mistakes will happen.  Encourage questions by setting this reassurance up in advance. You are more likely to have employees who are comfortable to address an issue early on if it arises and quickly diffuse a situation. With smaller, more achievable goals, the motivation will remain high through the entirety of a project. The end goal will seem less daunting. If employees know that their expectations are reasonable, they feel comfortable to ask for help when needed.

3. Have concrete guidelines. Define what success means to you as a manager (or an employee). The expectations should be mutually understood regarding what success looks like for the context of the company and role by providing or asking for examples of previous work from past successes. Another element of success is to ask about what should be prioritized. Everyone has different opinions on what should be prioritized if it is not explicitly stated. Also, having concrete deadlines for documents like permits and compliances complete tasks more efficiently. Without any assumptions (back to point one!) there will be no confusion when things should be done, and the road to the end goal will be a smooth ride.

4. The common theme of all of these points is communication. Being upfront with communication styles is key and can properly manage expectations on all sides. This allows for managers and employees to share the important information correctly. Communicate what work needs to be done and whose responsibility it is. Communicate with appraisal when work has been done well and communicate effectively when work has not been done to satisfaction. Whatever it may be, communicate accordingly and effectively. No one wants to be left in the dark, and clear communication benefits all parties.

Managing expectations can be a very simple task keeping in mind that that no one is a mind reader, and you as an employee, client or manager is responsible for ensuring that communications is clear and all expectations are met!

At HF Planners, we have the experts in managing expectations through detailed facility planning and facility management. During our different phases of design, we can accurately plan and tailor to meet based on schedule, budget, and deadlines. We are able to manage expectations by providing clear communication and materials throughout the entire process. You will never feel in the dark when you work with us! Interested in finding out more? Contact us today!

How to Facilitate the Change to a Hot Desking Office

Hot desking is the new wave of workplace design where there is no assigned desk or designated area for the employees. There is often a variety of different types of areas for employees to work in such as desks, couches, comfy chairs, as well as conference rooms and gathering spots throughout the office. If it is not occupied, you can use it! There is also hotel scheduling, where employees reserve a space, or zone for activity-based working; where employees designate space for them self or their team. With these new types of office environments, you will find a way to facilitate the change with the whole staff on board!

Here are some tips on implementing Hotel Scheduling and Hotdesking:

1. Have your employees’ input in the planning process.

Most of the time, the office is where people are spending an average of eight hours a day, five days a week. That’s a significant amount of time, so why not let them have involvement of the planning or design? Employees can express or present their suggestions for what environment they work best in, and your designer can make the most synergistic space happen!

2. Create a clear and concise policy for the employees.

If there are no set rules, then employees will just assume, and that is not idea in some cases. Part of managing a new office space that consists of hot desking, make sure the employees know the policy on how to treat the office space. The rules could include wiping down the desk or table after use every day so that the work stations stay clean, or if there are stationary computers, make sure everything is saved and logged out of prior to shutting down at the end of the day. Other policy ideas could include noise and headphones rules, which could tie into the design planning of acoustics in the new office space. Whatever the policy may be, make sure it is clear and known so there is no confusion on how to treat the new office space!

3. Introduce technology for communication.

In a traditional office, most desks have a designated phone that is assigned to the person sitting at the assigned desk. However, in a hot desking, hotel scheduling, or activity-based working situation, the designated phone will most likely not be there. There are so many different types of new technology now that can be used to streamline workplace communications with ease. Skype, G-Suite, Slack, Zoom, Outlook, and HipChat are just a few apps and tools to help unify the office into being in constant communication from any computer or phone. With a simple login, any employee can be connected, and they won’t be tied down to a single designated location!

4. Create a variety of spaces for all types of workers.

This ties back to the first point, keeping your employees in mind during planning is key. Whether you are relocating or renovating the existing office space, it is important to understand your employees needs. You and the designer can work together to create a space that makes everyone happy. You do not have to make the office all hot desking if that may not be suitable for everyone. Perhaps someone enjoys personalizing their space, so create a place to do just that. A bulletin board for personal pictures of flyers can help, where people will take pride in showing others a piece of home or life outside work. Lockers or cubbies can also be added so employees have the option to leave items at work they may not want to bring back and forth from the office every day.

With so many benefits to having your workplace make the upgrade over to the new wave of office design, it is helpful to know how to manage the change. With allowing your employees to feel like they are involved, clearly stating the expectations on how to treat the new environment, making sure communication is accessible, and everyone remains comfortable, you can absolutely take your business to the next level!

Ready to get started on your new workplace design? At HF Planners, LLC we have experienced designers to help transform your space into whatever works best with your office needs. HF Planners, LLC provides Facility Planning, Management, and Design services to help you find the right resources and design styles for your facility. Contact us today!

What are the benefits of Hoteling in your office?

Hoteling or Hot Desking – is the new way of reserving your workspace or office.  Reservation-based style of office management on an as-needed basis.

This method has become very popular over the past decade.  The concept came about in the communications and technology sector – where more employees started telecommuting or working from home and would call an office concierge to schedule a seat or office as required.

Benefits of Hoteling:

· Financial - companies use hoteling as a cost savings for real estate costs, companies can allow for headcount growth without the need to invest in more space for employees.

· More Resources – offices who have implemented telecommuting have discovered that while employees were absent, the resources in the office are readily available to the staff and visiting employees.

· Engaged Employees – when providing a space without rigorous daily requirements, and promoting a space where employees can choose where they sit allows for employee interaction and engagement.

·  Productivity Increases – by creating a flexible work environment, employees can now choose what type of environment they want to work in.  Hoteling provides the end-user to reserve a collaboration work area or a conference room to work privately.

For more ways to improve your office layout to incorporate the Hoteling concept into your workplace, contact us today!

Seven Deadly Sins for Facility Managers

Day-to-day activities for FM’s are always challenging, here are “Seven Deadly Sins for Facility Managers”

Here are seven pitfalls facilities managers can fall into while performing their day-to-day responsibilities:

1. Not ensuring compliance
2. Not documenting meetings
3. Doing the work, yourself
4. Ignoring repeated complaints
5. Remaining unaware of the market and not performing strategic analysis
6. Lack of an organization system
7. Not recognizing your staff’s work

To ensure expectations are met, an adequate team should be comprised – there should be constant training, teaching, developing, and working towards constant improvement of the overall facility.

READ MORE

Managing Expectations

Managing or Focusing expectations can promote a well-conceived and properly managed plan that is strongly aligned with the mission of your organization.

To properly manage expectations – the challenge is to do better with less. Understanding the goal and mission, purpose, environment, and resources is an integral piece of the puzzle and will help define the best decision. 


Leadership is still required, the engagement of all is still extremely important – HF Planners, LLC can assist in this process by engaging all of the users, compiling the data to ultimately manage the organizations' expectations. 

Click here to learn how Facility Managers in educational spaces manage expectations:

READ MORE