The FM Professional

How a facilities request system can improve the employee experience

Joe White
July 5th, 2022

Responding to facilities requests is no small thing. 

When facility requests are managed well (typically accomplished by using good facility request software), the office is efficient, employees are happy, and everyone can do their work without unnecessary distractions or disruptions. 

But when there’s no sustainable request management system in place, even routine maintenance easily falls through the cracks. 

In this article, we explore how to create a system that better handles facilities requests—along with why you should. 

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What is a facilities request?

A facilities request (sometimes called a service request or maintenance request) is just like it sounds. It’s a non-emergency request that an employee gives their facilities management (FM) team, asking them to improve, fix, enhance, or create different areas of the workspace. 

Facilities requests can be big. Like creating and managing whole new floor plans to accommodate new office neighborhoods…. Or small. Like fixing the coffee pot in the break room.  

In many ways, facility request management is like an informal service-level agreement (SLA). An SLA sets expectations around the products and services that service providers need to deliver. This includes a single point of contact, along with the metrics that measure the effectiveness of how well the process works. 

Typically, SLAs are between service providers and customers; in facilities service, FMs are the providers and employees are the customers. 

When FMs provide great ‘customer service’ through good facilities service request management, they can provide a much better employee and workplace experience

And to provide this great customer service, they need good software. It should cover everything from request forms to providing data on request frequency, resource availability, and other key metrics. 


What are some of the services that facilities may provide?

The roles and responsibilities of a facilities manager are becoming increasingly complex thanks to the rise in hybrid work. But facility services remain relatively straightforward. 

Simply put, FMs provide services to their ‘customers’ that ensure public safety while also keeping their physical office space running smoothly.  

This runs the gamut from food service and access services (like monitoring the employee badge system) to pest control, event support, office furniture, seating arrangements and project management, climate control, and simply replacing the light bulbs that need replacing. 

Of course, it’s often not the FMs themselves who are doing the actual maintenance work or fulfilling work orders. For example, outside contractors usually handle areas like the HVAC system and custodial services. 

But it’s the FMs who are responsible for creating a facility checklist that monitors all these essential systems. They’re also responsible for ensuring that employees have an easy submittal process to bring problems (or potential problems) to their attention. 

In this sense, FMs are also the ultimate request managers, hopefully using service request management tools to create a complete request process that is intuitive and easily accessible.    

Since FMs are measured on their ability to solve problems, the better they address employee requests, the better they’ll perform overall. This is while also creating a host of other benefits for their organization, as we’ll cover below. 


What are the benefits of request management software? 

Sticky notes, Excel docs, unending (and often unanswered) email notifications, verbal requests when you pass in the hall… There are lots of adhoc ways that FMs can manage requests. 

But when they want to avoid outages and disruptions, unhappy ‘customers,’ headaches, and wasted time, FMs turn to request management software. It simplifies and improves the whole process for everyone involved. 

This is as true for small organizations as it is for enterprise facility management. Without the right system in place, facilities request management is frustrating at best. At worst, it leads to missing real problems. 

In a nutshell, this software helps FMs to directly solve problems, while also gaining data (and therefore insight) into the office. Ideally, it will also integrate with space management software that helps organize the workspace. 

How Centra Credit Union uses a facilities request system

That’s why FMs in Centra Credit Union, for example, started using cutting-edge software that lets them streamline facility requests from their 400 employees, across multiple locations and states. 

“Before OfficeSpace, our request process was very ad hoc,” says Sharon Taylor, Assistant Vice President of Facilities at Centra Credit Union. “Employees would email the facilities team, and we would track requests with an Excel spreadsheet whenever we remembered to fill it in.”

But now, they have a complete system that makes it easy for employees to submit requests. Like when someone needs a new chair or a whole new office. 

“People have also started using Request Manager to notify us that somebody’s moved from seat A to seat B, which means I can keep our seating plans up to date in OfficeSpace. I’m really pleased about that,” says Sharon. 

Since this software is cloud-based and available via mobile app (and through Slack and Microsoft Team integration), employees are more inclined (and able) to use it. And FMs can access it on the road (even outside business hours). FMs can easily share requests with third-party contractors when dealing with issues like HVAC and plumbing. 

“Request Manager is so intuitive, and the ease of use of this tool is remarkable,” says Sharon. “It’s one of the main reasons that I chose it. And I think it’s one of the main reasons people are willing to use this tool within the organization.”

Specifically, Sharon found two features in Request Manager her whole team really loves:

  • ‘Drop a pin,’ so that every request is tied to its real-world location—particularly helpful when dealing with multiple facilities, a large campus map, or with outside contractors
  • ‘Attach a photo,’ which lets employees easily snap a pic through the app, attaching it to their request in seconds. 

Keeping track of requests

Of course, the facilities request process isn’t just about fielding requests. To truly meet employee needs, they also need to be in the loop about their request status. That’s why the OfficeSpace platform gives employees automatic updates about the status of their requests, including when someone fills them. 

“The automatic updates have also been a big time-saver for us,” says Sharon. “Whenever my team opens a request that somebody has sent in, it sends the requester an automatic email back to say, ‘We’ve received your request.’ The ability to keep people in the loop in real-time has been invaluable to this whole process.”

Giving employees the ability to easily make requests and then track request info gives them more control over their workspace. This ultimately leads to more empowerment in the workplace.

And providing good request management in general is key to a well-maintained facility, the benefits of which we explore below. 

Keeping track of issues

When an employee submits a facilities request, they have one goal: solving a problem. 

But when FMs are using request management software, they can meet two goals at once. 

Yes, they will be able to fix the immediate problem in a more efficient and timely manner. 

But they’ll also be able to keep track of any and all problems, gaining invaluable data into how their facility is running, and how well it’s meeting the needs of their ‘customers.’

Remember, FMs are assessed on their ability to solve—and predict—problems. The more requests they field, and the more data they collect on them, the better they’ll be able to make informed decisions for their facility and their workspace going forward. 


What are the benefits of a well-maintained facility? 

The benefits of a well-maintained facility are many. They range from improved employee experience and productivity, to cost savings and more sustainability. 

Improving how FMs handle facilities requests is ultimately about creating a more streamlined workplace. Also about removing any and all barriers that can keep employees from doing their best work. Even when that’s simply a toilet that’s not working or broken chair. 

Add in the ability for employees to easily request new seating and floor plans. And suddenly you’ve got a workplace that is incredibly easy to use and navigate. Even when dealing with a widely distributed workforce

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Photos: PeopleImages, sturti, vadimguzhva, PeopleImages