4 Ways to improve request management communication

Dealing with constant facility management requests can be stressful.  Just keeping track of all your different communication channels can start to feel like a full-time job —whether through an IT ticketing system, facility management software, text message or email, as a facility manager you are constantly receiving requests.

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Effective request management is essential to your business; as such, it is important to have clear and direct systems in place to handle requests. Here are a few tactics you can use to make the process as efficient as possible.

1. Keep employees informed

Providing employees with regular updates on the progress of their requests can lead to higher employee satisfaction and a greater appreciation for facility managers. These updates can include an initial acknowledgement and receipt of the request, follow-up questions and status updates on notable progress.

You should also notify employees of any delays or roadblocks in order to manage their expectations about the timeline and feasibility of the changes they've instigated. Making your employees feel heard, understood and valued is a key component to the request management process, so take the time to let employees know that you care about their needs and concerns.

2. Use consistent communication channels

Whether you are updating your employees through the phone, in person, a facility management tool or Slack, creating a standard communication method for requests will help simplify the process. Find the best communications method for your office and stick to it. Otherwise, you might end up with questions coming at you from all avenues—phones ringing, a queue of people outside your door, a full inbox and multiple Slack notifications.

You should also consider putting communication rules and policies into place. Establish whether or not employees should make requests on their own or if team leads should be communicating directly with the facility manager on their behalf.

Maintaining clear communication practices can save your organization both time and money, and help avoid confusion that may lead to project delays. If your company has remote employees, the use of organizational tools can help you stay in sync with your team in spite of physical distance. Here are 4 tried-and-tested tools that can help simplify your company’s internal communication.

Slack

What is it?

Slack is a communication organizational tool that streamlines conversations into "channels". A channel can be created for a particular topic, project, department or sub-committee. Employees can also use Slack for instant messaging.

Pros
  • Employees can easily share files (Slack is integrated with Google Docs and Dropbox).
  • Messages and files are archived and indexed, and are easily searchable weeks or months later.
  • Slack can dramatically reduce email traffic and eliminate ‘quick answer’ questions that may otherwise clog up your inbox.
  • Slack easily connects remote team members, allowing for real-time collaboration.
  • Slack integrates seamlessly with other apps and add-ons (including your visual directory).
Cons
  • Slack can be a distraction, with numerous alerts and notifications every time someone sends a message. Avoid this by adjusting notification settings for different channels, prioritizing your immediate team channel and any direct messages.

Google Docs

What is it?

Google has a suite of apps for businesses that includes Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs. Google Docs is a word processor that allows for real-time collaboration on your browser, with all changes automatically saved.

Pros
  • You can benefit from immediate creative collaboration without scheduling a meeting. This is a particular benefit when working with remote staff.
  • Make a mistake? No worries—all changes are saved in the revision history, so you can easily revert back to an older version of the document.
  • Google Docs can be easily saved as Word or PDF files, allowing for a quick download of client deliverables.
Cons
  • If you lose your internet connection, you lose access to the program (though your most recent changes will still be saved). Google has come out with a version for Chrome that provides offline access to files, but you must set this up in advance.

Workplace by Facebook

What is it?

Workplace by Facebook is a mobile and web app designed to keep your team connected. It combines features of Facebook, such as the News Feed, Search and Trending Posts, with messaging and chat functions that allow your team to communicate in unique groups based on projects, departments and tasks.

Pros
  • The Workplace News Feed shows trending conversations from all your groups, so that you can easily be updated on your many projects or departments.
  • Workplace lets you easily search for coworkers and phrases, and shows you results from across your entire company.
  • The app is similar to Facebook in design and function—meaning most of your employees will already know how to use it.
  • Workplace also allows you to easily plan a company event.
Cons
  • Workplace can be overwhelming—with so many company updates and conversations happening in the same application, it could prove counter-productive rather than useful if internal protocols are not established.
  • Unlike Slack, Workplace doesn't easily integrate with apps like Dropbox or Google Docs.

Video Conferencing

Man Taking Video in Office With iPhone
What is it?

Video conferencing is a way to meet face-to-face with someone even when you’re in different locations. Options for video conferencing include Skype, GoToMeeting, Zoom or even FaceTime.

Pros
  • You can minimize or eliminate the time and money spent traveling to a meeting.
  • You can also read the other person’s body language and facial expressions to understand the full meaning of what he or she is saying.
Cons
  • Video meetings are not always an appropriate substitute for an in-person meeting. Certain sensitive employee matters, for example, should be handled in person.
  • A weak or failed internet connection can interrupt the call and potentially appear unprofessional.

Ultimately, the communication tools you pick will depend on your company's particular needs. Using real-time organizational tools will help streamline and simplify internal communications, resulting in a more efficient and organized company.

3. Utilize a FM request system

IT-specific ticketing software can be far too complex for facility managers to use as their request management system. Using a facility management tool helps to simplify the entire process. These tools allow you to track specific metrics and include a progress tracking component that allows for a more transparent request process. Be sure that the software you select is customizable for your specific workflow and doesn’t make your process more cumbersome. The idea is to make request management more efficient, not less.

4. Request feedback

Eliciting and tracking feedback is another essential piece of the communication puzzle. Allowing employees to provide comments and feedback at the conclusion of a request can help you assess the productivity of your staff, the effectiveness of your workflow and potential areas of improvement. Tracking this data over time can help you see office pain points and to proactively address reoccurring concerns.

Facility managers need to both react to the feedback of their staff and establish clear, efficient communication methods for managing requests.

Emphasizing good delegation and standardizing the request workflow will help to streamline the process and eliminate confusion.

By standardizing your communication methods and utilizing strategic resources, you will be able to streamline the request process and run a more efficient office overall.

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