One of the most important and impactful trends that we are seeing in the facilities management business is the increased awareness of the value of coordination and cooperation long before a building or a business even opens its doors. As a matter of fact, before there even are doors. I am speaking, of course, about the value of bringing in facilities management professionals to assist with the design, development and construction process.
What’s exciting to me is that this is a trend that seems to be on the upswing, with more organizations bringing facilities management professionals—from management staff, to representatives from housekeeping, maintenance and more—on board to solicit their insights and real-world experience and expertise to the design and development process. Facilities teams working together with construction is one of those things that seems so obvious in retrospect that you kind of wonder what took everyone so long to figure it out.
Instead of a handful of architects working in a vacuum, the design team can benefit from the practical feedback and end-user contributions of those professionals who are actually going to be working in the space. Because while architects, developers and construction teams may be working on the building for a year or two, maintenance professionals will be working in and maintaining the building for much longer. Representatives from facilities and maintenance can work with architects and designers to identify potential design problems and contribute important information about optimum layouts, materials, fittings and fixtures.
Especially in specialty facilities such as the heavy-use health care facilities that we here at Powerlink are so familiar with, the extra expense needed to install high quality materials and fixtures is the kind of design decision that will pay for itself many times over throughout the life of the facility. Facilities professionals can also contribute valuable information about the design and functionality of the spaces, as well as special considerations to account for cleanliness or patient care priorities. Considering the fact that organizations routinely spend tens, or even hundreds of millions of dollars to build or renovate a facility, the savings that can result from a more collaborative process are significant. Any additional up-front costs represent a relative drop in the bucket and make facilities consultation a wise investment.
The last thing any organization wants to discover is that operating and maintaining a new facility is unnecessarily difficult or unreasonably costly. With design elements attuned to the needs and standards of those who will be using, working in, and caring for the space every day, the facility itself becomes a powerful maintenance and management asset—making these design synergies a potentially important part of a long-term facilities management solution.