The FM Professional

9 Unexpected Issues Facility Managers Face (and How to Prevent Them)

David Spence
February 16th, 2016

Office facilities can experience problems—especially unpredictable ones—regardless of how well optimized they are.

As a facilities manager, you’re going to have a slew of issues to handle on a daily basis. Some of them are more preventable than others and can be readily avoided. Others, well, they’re unforeseen challenges that can throw your processes for a loop, forcing you to think on your feet to get the job done.

You already have enough on your plate; there’s no need to give yourself more to do, especially when many problems can be avoided. To succeed as a facility manager, you’re going to need to be constantly thinking ahead, while putting out any fires (hopefully not literally) in your day-to-day office setting.

While unexpected issues are just that — unexpected — there is some common issues facility managers experience that can be prepared for.

Here we’ve outlined some potential problems and how to be ready for them.

1. Failing to fill a position in a timely manner

facilities management position

As a facility manager, you need to ensure your workplace is always operating at peak efficiency. This means that if any employees quit or are fired, then you need to fill these openings with a suitable replacement as soon as possible.

If the job market isn’t working in your favor and a position remains unfilled for too long, you run the risk of having work pile up or putting too much stress on current employees.

To remedy this situation, be proactive in recruiting new employees (such as Millennials) and training current employees to have overlapping skills. Attend events in your industry to network with other professionals who might want to join your team should an opportunity arise. 

2. Running out of crucial office supplies

office supplies

It seems simple, but it’s always the little things that seem to be overlooked – like ordering of materials. If your office requires certain materials to continue business as usual, then you need to ensure these materials remain fully stocked.

To better keep track, you can use facility management software to help organize and fulfill employee requests when there are just too many to remember.  

Even something as simple as running out of toilet paper in the employee bathroom or coffee in the kitchen, can be a damper to overall employee well-being, which can decrease workplace satisfaction. So putting a request management system in place to prevent the simple things from falling through the cracks, is just as imperative as managing your space allocation.  

3. Losing precious customer data

keeping track of customer data

As much as we hate to admit it, data loss happens. When you use a CRM to manage company-wide data, it’s important to ensure it’s always protected.

Having protocols in place for accessing and securing customer data will prevent any information from being read in locations where it could be compromised, such as on public Wi-Fi networks.

To protect against potential hacking and data theft, install local encryption on any devices and computers that store important or confidential details. It’s best practice to also implement regular password resets across the company too.

4. Dealing with aging building space

building maintenance

If the building you own or rent is old, you’re going to need to keep on top of maintenance. Dated appliances run the risk of being huge energy and profit sinks if not replaced or maintained properly.

Going green in the workplace not only saves you money, but increases productivity across your organization.

To avoid any issues that come with an aging office space, conduct regular preventative maintenance and replace any problematic appliances, lights or other inefficiencies before they interrupt your workflow. This will help to keep your energy costs low and ensure your building continues to run efficiently, thus saving your company money.

5. Troubleshooting sudden equipment failure


Properly functioning equipment is important for maintaining smooth operations in an office—however equipment is bound to fail unexpectedly every now and then.

Printers, furniture, or kitchen equipment may suddenly break, security systems may go down or internet connections may be disrupted. Issues like these can quickly run up costs and create an unexpected workload for facilities teams.

Fixing failed or broken equipment often requires reactive maintenance, which can interfere with your established workflow. Managers can help reduce the risks of these sudden failures by tracking office resources to find patterns that can predict when equipment needs to be cared for and subsequently scheduling proactive or preventative maintenance.

Accomplishing this effectively requires a combination of comprehensive tools and disciplined data gathering.

6. Getting hit with a fine or notice

facilities compliance standards

To avoid fines and notices, you need to be up to date with the latest compliance standards related both to the overall functioning of your building and your workplace practices. Some common fines include fire code violations due to using outdated equipment or not having a proper fire escape plan.

Even common safety violations like electrical hazards or failing to document your employee training records can put added stress on you and your workers.

To stay in the clear, join fellow FM’s and continue to educate yourself (and your employees and colleagues) on the latest news and regulations and even attend industry conferences if need be. The more you know as a facility manager, the more of an asset you’re going to be to your company.

7. Not preparing for exponential company growth


Fast company growth is exciting but can create a number of challenges across an organization. Growth leads to the need for more equipment, as well as office moves or changes. As a result, managers have to be adaptive with their strategies and resources and consider the future utility of their offices.

As teams grow, consider how to optimize your current space and organize departments with growth in mind. Which teams are expected to grow rapidly and do they have all of the appropriate resources?

For example, have you budgeted space for additional meeting areas? Is there a space that is being underutilized?

Using visualization tools, tracking resource usage and communicating with leadership about growth goals can help facility managers structure their spaces in preparation for growing teams.

8. Regulating thermal comfort


Some of the most common issues within an office revolve around its temperature.

Accommodating the thermal comfort needs of every staff member in the office is difficult since often temperature control can’t be adjusted for specific individuals.

It is a difficult issue to solve, but managers who can keep people physically comfortable in their spaces stand to gain from more productive staff. Managers can help maintain a consistent, predictable temperature by installing a smart thermostat that automatically adjusts based on external changes.

Implementing an effective request management system is another simple way to automate your processes and anticipate staff requests around building temperature and overall comfort.

8. Resolve subtle security faults


Major security breaches like break-ins may not be daily occurrences, but smaller, less obvious issues are common. Misplaced mobile devices and staff lending their security cards or sharing information like passcodes are just a few instances that bring unnecessary risks into a facility. As cyber threats increase, managers must be diligent and adaptive to these issues.

Moving important information to the cloud and implementing software that ensures the security of your data is vital. Diversifying and automating security measures, as well as clearly communicating with staff about security procedures, are just a few steps managers should consider taking when addressing small-but-frequent security risks.

Of course, it’s impossible to put out every fire before it starts (again, though, if it’s a literal fire then you should probably jump on that quickly!), but to truly excel as an FM it’s your duty to educate yourself on any potential issues so you can navigate around them swiftly.

After all, office productivity and company success depend on it!

Are you looking for a way to monitor and mitigate unexpected problems in your office? Learn more about how OfficeSpace can help you maintain a more efficient workspace.

Photos: Uber Images / Shutterstock, somebox, Marcin Czaja, Jacob Sciacchitano, Dominic Lange, Rihardzz /  Unsplash / Shutterstock / Pixabay / Unsplash / Unsplash