3 Ways to Avoid Facility Fiascos this School Year

July 22, 2016  •  Riana Upton

Your school's fresh paint job is drying, the floors are squeaky clean, and the classrooms are in tip-top shape for your students and staff. So, bring on the students, right? Not just yet! Phew, glad we caught you before you did anything rash. Now is actually the perfect time to start adding some to-dos to your list that will help you start the new school year off on the right foot. These tasks are a lot like the idea of preventive maintenance, which is the practice of performing routine repairs or inspections to prevent a future emergency and extend the life of your building. If you carry out these simple tasks now, it could help you avoid conflicts and costly surprises down the line.

1. Get your school’s staff onboard

Maintaining open communication with your school’s faculty and staff is paramount if you want your facilities to operate with minimal hiccups. A couple simple practices can be the difference between an educational facility that runs smoothly and one that constantly needs attention.

  • Get into the habit of explaining the reasoning behind any requests you make of your colleagues. By properly explaining why certain rules are in place, you can prevent misunderstandings that would otherwise result in disaster.
    • For example, you may ask your colleagues to keep their thermostats at 74ºF. In your mind, you know it’s to keep mold from growing and to cut back on cooling costs. However, a teacher may think you just like to make them miserable so one Friday, when they can’t take it anymore, they disregard your request and turn down the thermostat to 65ºF. Then, to make matters worse, they leave it on in the empty classroom over the long weekend! Unbeknownst to them, they just left behind the perfect breeding grounds for mold. How could this have been avoided? Next time, provide the “why” behind your request. Providing the context behind a request makes your staff feel like they are in the loop and helps the information stick when it matters most.
  • Sometimes emails don’t get read or announcements are tuned out, so take advantage of your empty school and arm your facility with adequate signage. Don’t want a door left open? Make a sign for it. Want to remind staff that lights should only be on during certain hours? Make a sign for it. Tired of students using the emergency doors to leave school? Make a — you get it. On your next walk through of your facilities, create a list of signs that need to be made. No need to be fancy, a simple word document can do wonders.

2. Start fresh

Just like a student gets a spiffy new haircut before their first day of school, tidying up your facilities will help you start the school year in style. When you’re focused on big tasks like facility remodels or repairs, smaller tasks, such as organizing your janitorial supplies and closets, can get pushed further down your to-do list. It’s not too late to set aside some time to get your department ready to take on whatever the school year throws at you.

  • Organize the little things. Start with your desk and surrounding office space, then move on to your supply closets, custodial closets and any other storage areas that may need a little TLC. Rally your staff to help cut organizing time in half. Depending on your storage spaces this may be a daunting task, but the first step is to set aside as little as an hour a week just to get started. Break it down into small, actionable steps. For example, start by disposing of old inventory or cleaning supplies and making sure all their usage and safety information is visible. If you want to go the extra mile, you could even replace your cleaning supplies with their environmentally-friendly counterparts. To encourage easy maintenance of your freshly assembled space, label items and ask that your team abide by your new organizational set-up.

3. Whip your workflows into shape

While summer may symbolize freedom for students and teachers, most of us understand that work never takes a break. However, since your facilities are emptier than normal, summer is the ideal time to usher in a new era of facility management for your building(s). Facility management software provides incredible value to schools and implementing one now could gain you many opportunities to save on costs and improve your facilities. A good facility management software keeps work order, vendor activity, and inventory information in one place. Ideally, a facility management software system should take the stress of keeping track of maintenance duties and following up with work orders off your shoulders. With the extra time gained from using facility management software, our customers managing school facilities have been able to take on initiatives focused on making their schools the best learning environments they can be.

  • Kick off your search by documenting and prioritizing your school’s needs and areas for improvement. Many of our customers in school environments come to us with an unstructured work request system and are overwhelmed with keeping track of vendor activity and maintenance requests. Do thorough research to find a software system that fits your school's criteria. Make ease-of-use a necessity — the more people feel comfortable navigating through your software solution, the more people will use it. For more information, check out our eGuide on selecting a facilities management system.
  • If facility management software is out of the question, brainstorm ways to improve the efficiency of your current work order, preventive maintenance, and event scheduling workflows. What are your three biggest holdups?Are your work orders getting lost every few weeks? Can your staff’s efficiency be improved? Maybe it’s time to reestablish your expectations of your team. Find solutions that fit within your workflow and test them out to see if they have a positive effect. Taking the summer to establish these new practices gives you a good window to work out any kinks and develop the best way to instruct others on your new procedures.

 
How Facilities Management eXpress (FMX) Can Help
 
FMX's simple interface and powerful capabilities like work order and preventive maintenance management, event and transportation scheduling, and reporting and analytics are providing value to schools around the nation. We work with onsite single sign-on and allow unlimited users, making us a great fit for schools of any size. Click here for more information and to learn more about how K-12, higher education, and charter schools like yours have simplified their facilities management with FMX.
 

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Riana is the assistant marketing director at Facilities Management eXpress. When she's not creating content or running the FMX customer community, she can be found doing crafts and drinking copious amounts of green tea.

 

Sources:
https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2003/2003347.pdf

 

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