The Best Return-to-Work Strategy: Facilities Management Post-Pandemic

As the Covid-19 pandemic progresses and vaccines become more available, workplaces have a crucial decision to make: how to safely return to work. Many factors must be considered when making this decision: how employees have responded to working from home, what your state health and safety guidelines regarding the pandemic and business are, your budget and how the pandemic has affected it, the equipment and space you have available for a floorplan re-stack, and many, many more. Generally, return-to-work strategies are falling to three categories:

  1. A stringent approach: organizations will not be returning to physical workspaces until 2022.
  2. A return-to-normal approach: organizations are requiring their employees to return to the same operations as before the coronavirus pandemic.
  3. A hybrid approach: organizations have some employees attending the physical office and others working from home.

There is no right answer as to which approach your organization should take, excepting where state health and safety requirements may require you to implement certain health practices, such as temperature-taking, mask-wearing, hand-sanitizing, social-distancing, and more. All those in consideration, the pandemic has emphasized to a greater degree that the health and happiness of employees and facilities is extremely important to the health and productivity of organizations. RSC has compiled what each approach may entail, what we recommend and why, and what your organization may want to consider when returning to work. Read the following articles to learn more and determine the best return-to-work strategy for your organization.

The Intelligence Cycle & IWMS

The Intelligence Cycle and an Integrated Work Management System have a lot more in common than you might think.  Thanks to IWMS Daily, we came across this amazing article entitled “6 Aspects of Military Intelligence & How They Relate to IWMS.”  After reading the article, we felt inspired to look a little more deeply into the relationship.  The article you are about to read is a mix of Military, Department of Defense, FBI, and CIA definitions of their intelligence Cycle as well as input from the article that inspired us with a bit of RSC flair.

We are grateful for the service provided by all the men and women enlisted to protect the freedoms the USA was founded on.  In honor of Independence Day and all those who gave their lives serving in defense of the freedoms our great Country was founded upon, we wanted to share something that bridged the two worlds.

The intelligence cycle is a term used by various government agencies including the military, FBI, and CIA to name a few.  It is “the process of developing unrefined data into polished intelligence for the use of policymakers”1 and consists of six interrelated operations 2.  The process is circular in nature and fundamental for processing data in civilian, military, or law enforcement system.


As outlined in the article, we present to you the six parts of the intelligence cycle and how they relate to IWMS

1. Planning and Direction

Intelligence requirements are determined by a decision maker to meet certain goals 3. As in the military a good IWMS must have a situational awareness of all available resources as well as the means to quantify them.  It requires charting a direction which identifies the resources needed to attain a particular goal. In the FM world this can be thought of as improving the allocation and prioritization of real estate operations and more rapid development as well as investing in technology or replacing older RE/FM systems 4.  At Robert Stephen Consulting, LLC., we strive to listen to our client’s needs and desires as we help in the planning process. We provide flexible guides to assist clients decipher what is most important.

2. Collection

Collection is the gathering of raw information based on requirements determined in planning and direction 5.Data collection is done in either a strategical or tactical way in order to connect seemingly unrelated information to produce a holistic and comprehensive understanding of a certain goal.  In an IWMS these data sources may consist of occupancy, costs, leasing, future space requirements, operational maintenance management (scheduling repairs), customer satisfaction, project management, etc. 6.  RSC aids in collecting electronic information and standards along with manufacture recommendations.  We also provide best practices along the way.

3. Processing & Exploitation

Defined by the US Department of Defense as “the conversion of information into suitable forms” 7.Corporate leadership, like their military counterparts, require data to be fully analyzed and vetted in order to make rapid strategic decisions on the appropriate (daily) course of action.  The processing of collected data facilitates improved customer experience, reputation management, and building
partnerships among others — all of which impact a company’s bottom line. Some outcomes of processing and exploitation in IWMS include work order processing, energy management, and environmental impact 8.  After gathering data, we synthesize and consult.  We create a pilot project including sample data from 1-3 buildings and multiple floors with employee information, assets, etc.  We prove the theory hypothesized from the collected data.

4. Analysis and Production

In the military, analysis and production fuses processed data from various sources together into a centralized report to identify potential patterns 9/10.An IWMS does the same thing.  The goal of the IWMS, however, is to improve management of (Corporate) Real Estate/Facilities Management. Aspects of this goal include flexibility to expand future applications/utility, reporting, financial management, market planning, site selection, transaction management, lease management, operations/maintenance, sustainability, energy management, and business intelligence to name a few 11.  After analyzing the data, RSC puts together a punch list of items and is reviewed with the client and any remaining data is uploaded.

5. Dissemination and Integration

The military defines dissemination and integration as the delivery of intelligence to users in a suitable form applicable to appropriate missions, tasks, and functions 12 in the form of reports 13 on either the front lines or in higher leadership levels.  This is done through various types of communication (e.g., social media, mobile devices, the “cloud,” and database transfers).  The dissemination (sharing or broadcasting) of information is not the end of a process, but a continuous link between the producers and consumers of data.  An IWMS integrates BIM, CAD, and GIS intelligence and delivers the data to users (some of which may include Client Service Directors, Human Resource Directors, & Marketing Directors) through dashboards, mapping displays, analytics, mobile applications 14, and RSC’s very own Space View.  At this point staff is introduced to the new process and training to use the system.  Minor tweaks are also considered and incorporated when they follow the plan and process outlined in items 1-4 above.

6. Evaluation and Feedback

Evaluation and feedback is a continuous assessment of intelligence operations to ensure requirements are being met 15. This military practice assists in planning, collection, processing, executing, and making overall improvements.  In corporate environments this process translates into consulting and honestly identifying any deficiencies with the system 16.  At Robert Stephen Consulting, LLC., we understand that these applications are living and breathing systems which require constant feeding and growth.  An internal champion makes decisions on whether enhancements need to be made to a new or existing IWMS by gauging system performance and efficiency. There’s no wonder why RSC believes an internal champion is key to a successful IWMS integration.  It’s a tried and true concept that even the US Government uses.

When these six military intelligence cycles are applied, the benefits of IWMS are clear.  An Integrated Work Management System reduces costs, increases efficiency, and improves productivity.  If your company is not already using an IWMS, like ARCHIBUS, we urge you to do the research, ask questions, and invest!  The benefits an IWMS can bring to your company, no matter how large or small, are innumerable.

With that being said, we hope you have a happy, festive, and safe Fourth of July!

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All You Need to Know About Going Green: Pt.1

Interested in going green?  Not quite sure where to begin?  You’ve come to the right place! Today we’d like to share with you some key information and successful tips on going green with our very own Mario Sanchez-Palacios, a LEED Accredited Professional (AP).

It is no secret that going green is becoming more of a priority for everyone.  There are great environmental benefits as well as impacts on a company’s bottom line.  So why aren’t more companies taking that first step to go green?

Going green can be costly.  But it doesn’t have to be!  With a great IWMS, like ARCHIBUS and a hand to guide you, going green really can be simple.

What is LEED?

The United States Green Business Council developed LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, to help change the way buildings and communities are designed, built, and operated.  LEED is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. It is the most widely recognized and used green building program across the globe, certifying 1.5 million square feet of building space each day. Over 130 buildings satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. Prerequisites and credits differ for each rating system, and teams choose the best fit for their project.

A LEED AP is an accreditation that demonstrates that an individual understands the complicated LEED green building principles and concepts.  A LEED AP is capable of managing a LEED project and helping projects acquire the appropriate number of points to gain either certified, silver, gold, or platinum building levels.

Where to Begin

There are a few types of Rating Systems that apply to Corporate Real Estate:

  1. Building Design + Construction (BD+C)
  2. Interior Deisgn + Construction (ID+C)
  3. Building Operations + Maintenance (O+M)

Each rating system is made up of a combination of credit categories.  The number of points a project earns, determines the level of LEED certification (Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum).

Since not all companies are ready to build, rebuild, do a complete interior fit-out, or do major renovation, the LEED Rating System easiest to start with is Building Operations + Maintenance.  O+M “Applies to existing buildings that are undergoing improvement work or little to no construction; includes Existing Buildings, Schools, Retail, Hospitality, Data Centers, and Warehouse & Distribution Centers.”  1

A few of the applicable credits categories with their corresponding credits for O+M include:

  • Location & Transportation
    • Alternative Transportation
  • Sustainable Sites
    • Rainwater Management
    •  Light Pollution Reduction
    • Heat Island Reduction
  • Water Efficiency
    • Outdoor Water Use Reduction
    • Indoor Water Use Reduction
    • Water Metering
  • Energy & Atmosphere
    • Energy Metering
    •  Refrigerant Management
  •  Materials and Resources
    • Waste Management
    • Purchasing
  •  Indoor Environmental Quality
    • Green Cleaning
    • Indoor Air Quality Management
    • Interior Lighting
  • Innovation
    • LEED AP
  • Regional Priority
    • Specific Credits based on location

A company can earn points for many, many things like: How close the building is to public transportation (BART, Subway, Bus, etc.)?; Does your building have bicycle parking?; Do your windows have reflective blinds?; Is your building eligible to receive an ENERGY STAR rating?; Are 50% of the products and materials your company uses (pens, paper, etc.) or 75% of furniture made from recycled material, bio-based materials, wood, etc.?;  Do you maintain your HVAC systems?; Do you use green cleaning products, materials, and equipment?;  Do you recycle?; Do employees have the ability to control the lighting in their work space? Survey employees/building occupants on their typical transportation patterns once every 5 years; Shade 50% of paved areas; use pavers instead of cement; Install a vegetated roof; Perform waste reduction and recycling program; and many more!

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Success Story: Silicon Graphics, Inc.

What an awesome quote by Henry Ford.  We at Robert Stephen Consulting, believe in the value of hard work and finding a solution.  That’s why we promise to provide our clients with exactly the type of IWMS service they deserve.  We believe in solving problems as quickly as possible and saving our clients as much money, time, and space as possible.

For years we’ve worked with one of the great Computer Hardware companies in the Silicon Valley — SGI.  Back in the very early days of RSC, Bob Stephen (CEO) managed to save SGI approximately $30,000,000 in a matter of only five hours.

Here’s how:

At the time, Silicon Graphics, Inc. was preparing to sell the eight buildings they had built on two different campuses in the Silicon Valley.  One afternoon, the Vice President of Corporate Real Estate came to Bob Stephen with questions about seemingly inaccurate numbers.  After about 45 minutes of reviewing the background data (drawings and spreadsheets of square footage information) from SGI’s real estate company, Bob came to a startling conclusion.  It was determined that there was a dramatic miscalculation of the vertical penetration according to Bowman Standards by the real estate company. He informed the VP of CRE the square footage had been inflated, meaning the vertical penetration was never included.  Bob then walked all 8 buildings with their people from the corporate real estate company.  An hour and a half later, at the end of their walk through, everyone agreed — Bob’s number’s were correct.

The VP reported back that SGI was able to increase the sale of their buildings by $30 million,  all because of Bob’s knowledge of the Bowman Standards, commitment to accuracy, diligent data recording in ARCHIBUS, and ability to catch the miscalculation in square footage.

You can read more about this success story in one of our case studies here.

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ARCHIBUS NEWS: Top Strategies for a Greener Corporation

Are you interested in saving money, conserving energy, and reducing your water consumption and carbon footprint? Then you’re likely interested in “going green”, and ARCHIBUS can help.

This post is a summary of Top Strategies for a Greener Corporation, an article put out by Forbes, Kolmer, and Miller:

Environmental sustainability or “going green”, is one of the most important initiatives in the workplace today.  These increasingly common goals of reducing energy use and energy consumption can be accomplished in a variety of ways, all with which an effective IWMS system can help. Commercial building energy use accounts for 18% of all CO2 emissions.  These emissions can be reduced easily by better utilizing office space, which is what IWMS systems do.  Not taking advantage of your IWMS system results in wasted HVAC and lighting costs as well as over expenditures in operating costs (e.g., utilities, taxes, janitorial or maintenance, and physical assets).  By using simple vendor-neutral conservation strategies, your company’s carbon footprint and unnecessary expenses can be drastically decreased and potentially avoided altogether. The article outlines six different ways to accomplish your company’s sustainability goals:

1. Stop Wasting Space

Sounds easy, right?  Well, it is!  “The faster [companies] implement better space management the faster [they] gain the added environmental and economic benefit of lowering energy use and operating expenses” (2014, p.2).  If a company utilizes its space planning and management software by conducting space audits on a routine basis, operations are easily consolidated as vacant space is eliminated.

2. Alarm Your FM Department

Through the integration of a company’s BAS HVAC alarms to its building ops software, the location of problems can be identified on building drawings.  This integration will also “automate issuance of work orders when energy management systems detect performance failures of heat traps and other system components” (2014, p.2).

3. Manage Data Center Heat

Maintaining a balance between power and cooling is the greatest challenge for data centers.  Operational costs may eat up over 50% of some tech budgets on top of whatever it may cost to construct additional space to house these data centers.  To ensure company efforts are not being wasted, implement a “data center management software [that] provides easy graphical visualizations and automatic updates to sever rack inventories” or implement hot/cold aisles in data centers (2014, p.2).

4. Don’t Get Caught in an HVACcuum

Most offices and data centers are not in use 24/7. Too many offices receive round-the-clock HVAC support. Using IWMS software and building drawings, your company can reconfigure space and consolidate HVAC intensive data centers and other operations to reduce after-hour electricity consumption.

5. Telecommuting is Key

Embrace the power of telecommuting! Telecommuting is perhaps one of the greatest ways for a company to go green.  The article describes one company generating 29,000 fewer tons of CO2 emissions and savings of US$63 million in one fiscal year by cutting 6,660 office seats” (2014, p.3).  Furthermore, telecommuting reduces transportation-generated greenhouse gas emissions by reducing commuter traffic.

6. Use KPIs

Key Performance Indicators are the benchmarks against which progress is measured for sustainability initiatives, cost reduction goals, business process improvements and other activities.  “A well thought-out environmental sustainability strategy can deliver up to 10% — and possibly as much as 20% — savings and operational costs” (2014, p.5). As Forbes, Kolmer, and Miller describe, the role IWMS systems play in “going green” are key and the benefits of having a quality functioning system is clear.

Did you know that ARCHIBUS was recently ranked as one of the World’s Largest Software Companies by Software Magazine? That’s just one of the reasons why ARCHIBUS is the number one solution for real estate, infrastructure, and facilities management in the world.

What is your company doing to reduce their carbon footprint?  Need help achieving your sustainability goals?  Reach out to us here at RSC.  We’d love to help you create a greener tomorrow!

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