Office Design

Connecting facilities and HR: 4 ways to make working with other departments easier

David Spence
March 17th, 2015

To overcome issues related to departments working in silos, teams need strategies to help forge stronger relationships within their companies.

Putting teamwork into practice

Working with other departments can sometimes be a frustrating process for facilities management teams. When each department exists in its own silo, there can be several barriers to overcome. Different priorities, working styles, and personalities can make it difficult to work together on certain projects, and since the facilities department touches so many different parts of the office, FMs are often in contact with more teams than any other department. 

One example of this is the link between the facilities department and HR. For a company to run like clockwork, facilities and HR need to keep in constant communication. After all, an office won’t be productive if temps are taking up the conference room and people are trying to stage a coup for valuable desk space. Computer-aided facility management (CAFM) software can help businesses avoid this nightmare by providing support to both departments. 

Here are four strategies to help bridge the gap between departments.

1. Improve your clarity and communication

To work well together, departments should be crystal clear on who is responsible for what. Trying to foist work on another department can breed resentment and confusion, especially if no one has clarified which department owns which responsibility. For example, if there’s an employee who is moving from one spot in the office to another, there can be several different departments involved in the move. HR, IT, telecom, and facilities departments may play a role. If even one department isn’t clear on their responsibilities or the details of the move, it’s likely that the move could be botched—the space might not have a working telephone or computer, or the contact information on the intranet might not be accurate and up to date.

Email has revolutionized the way we communicate, but it still can’t take the place of real-time conversations. Instead of communicating via email all the time, opt to call the person in the other department every now and then. Having a spoken conversation will add a sense of personal connection that simply emailing back and forth won’t. Of course, if you can visit them in person; that’s even better. Putting a face to the name will help you build a stronger working relationship.

 

7 TIPS FOR CREATING AN ENGAGING WORKPLACE

 

If you’ve had a hard time working with other departments in the past because of poor communication or conflicting priorities, set up a time for members from each department to meet. This can be a good time for each of you to ask each other questions and learn how the other side works. Then you can brainstorm solutions on how to work together more efficiently and support one another. If there’s not a pressing topic you need to discuss; however, you may want to sit in on other departments’ meetings once in awhile. This can also give you a sense of how the department operates, what its priorities are, and how it accomplishes its goals.

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2. Get up-to-date contact and location information

With a software database that contains the most recent and accurate information, HR can easily see who’s sitting where. Without software, the facilities manager may have the information recorded on a document that HR doesn’t have access to. Since HR isn’t typically involved in the move process, there’s a risk that the data isn’t accurate. Without a solution to simplify employee churn, FMs often have to keep multiple information sheets, and it’s easy for information to get lost in the mix.

A move to a new spot in the office may result in the worker receiving a new phone number. CAFM software is important here, too. Having accurate contact info is crucial for the HR department, but if the office lacks a system for tracking moves, it’s quite likely that HR won’t have the details they need. This will make it difficult for them to reach the worker via phone, leading to confusion and disorganization.

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3. Find workers more easily

Facilities management software can give HR a good idea of space usage. Specifically, a visual floor plan can help the team foresee problems that may arise when there are too many workers and not enough space. With this information, HR can consider alternative workspace models, such as hot desking or hoteling, and discuss the possibility of hiring work-from-home employees to compensate for lack of workspace. If no one can see exactly how many people are occupying the building; however, overstaffing can’t be planned for. As a consequence, people’s jobs may become more difficult from dealing with worker conflicts over desk space. 

A visual map detailing empty space can help HR plan for new-hire seating. It would obviously be a potential issue to put an accounting intern near the sales department, or offer them an empty conference room that may be needed for meetings the next day. HR can use the software to communicate with facilities management and together, the two can make the necessary arrangements for new hires. Having an appropriate space will make new hires feel welcome, as well as ensuring they’re not shuffled from one spot to the next.

As the new employee gets accustomed to their job, they may be directed to people or departments they’ve never visited. Instead of having to ask HR where they can find these individuals, they can just use the software to look them up. Since the tool helps employees find each other, HR won’t have to give them directions or escort them to the right place.

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4. Establish systems for better collaboration

Inefficiency can lead to wasted hours, which in turn, can translate to lost dollars. For departments that often collaborate, it’s important to find a system that ensures each department completes its part of the project efficiently and promptly. This system might be something like project management software that captures progress at each stage of the project, or it could be move management software that automates the move process so that no step of the process is accidentally skipped.

 

SEE OFFICESPACE IN ACTION

For both facilities managers and their co-workers in human resources, CAFM software is a useful tool. This kind of solution will make people’s jobs easier by helping them see how many people are on staff, and where each person is stationed in the building. HR can plan for overflow, find new hires, and focus more on their own work instead of answering questions about where to find certain people.

Making the effort to communicate is the first step in improving collaboration with other departments. When you take the time to meet with and understand your colleagues, you can build a relationship that will make working together easier.

Photo credits: Rawpixel, William Iven, Pixabay