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Productivity Optimization: Smart Workplace Planning for Facility ManagersDecember 5, 2013
Smart workplace planning is far more than simply squeezing the most income-generating activity into the least amount of square footage, as the grizzled veterans of countless “cubicle farms” will attest. It’s also about creating spaces that inspire creativity, collaboration and a positive work environment. Check out these workplace planning trends that can help you turn your San Jose, San Francisco or Bay Area facility into a productivity powerhouse:
The nimble office – Today’s office space must be able to flex, adapt and reconfigure itself to suit the ever-changing workflow patterns of its staff. When you’re able to shift chairs and tables into various nooks where small meetings can spontaneously happen, you’re facilitating constant, ongoing productivity instead of forcing employees to wait for an available conference room. You can help these moveable groups plug into the electronics they need by running cables and hubs under raised floors instead of building them permanently into the walls. This flexibility will also help you accommodate virtual commuters on the days they need to work in the office.
The creative zone – Today’s workspace places an emphasis on fostering positive energy and higher morale. Simply opening the work area up for easer communication is a great start in this direction. Natural light has been shown to contribute to brighter moods and happier interactions. Extensive use of glass fronts increases the sense of “one big happy family” by preventing the feeling of management and staff being closed off from each other.
Greater comfort for greater productivity – The productive workspace is one in which workers can work without needless physical strain. Invest in ergonomic chairs, desks and other furniture that can be easily adjusted for a wide range of body types. This ensures that every employee can work from any station in the facility with equal ease.
What Facility Managers Should Know About Water ManagementNovember 28, 2013
Water usage is an issue every facility manager needs to take under consideration. Whether you run a restaurant in San Francisco, a hospital in San Jose, a biotech firm in the Bay Area or practically any other kind of commercial property, you’ll find that efficient water management plays a role in efficient facilities management.
Of course, different types of facilities employ water in different ways and to varying degrees. For instance, anyone in the hospitality industry is aware that restaurants, hotels and other public facilities run vast amounts of water through their washing machines, sinks, toilets and other appliances. Water usage also turns up as a factor in biotech facilities management, because hot water is essential for sterilizing the equipment and tools used in this line of work. Other types of laboratory and medical equipment may also rely on water for cooling or sterilization. It’s literally a case of “water, water everywhere”– which mans that even tiny usage inefficiencies can put a major leak in your facility’s operating budget.
Efficient water management includes leak prevention through regular maintenance and repair, upgrading of fixtures to more efficient new models, and (where possible) the recycling of water to help business get the most for their utility dollar. Today’s Facility Manager notes that simply upgrading the pre-rinse spray valve on a dishwasher with an EPA-certified WaterSense valve can help a kitchen save 7,000 gallons per year in wasted water. Upgrading a laboratory’s team sterilizer can help reduce that component’s water consumption by up to 90 percent. But no matter what kind of business you have, smart water management and facilities maintenance services can make a major difference in your operating efficiency — and the experts at IMPEC Group can help you make it happen.
Cut Your Power Consumption and Boost Your Data Center’s EfficiencyNovember 21, 2013
If you’re like most San Francisco, San Joe or Bay Area facility managers, you take it for granted that your facility’s data center must run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without fail — and naturally, this “always up” requirement eats a considerable amount of power. But if you’ve written off the pricey nature of data center operations as a necessary evil, it’s time to rethink your assumptions. Let’s look at a few ways today’s data centers can reduce power consumption without reducing performance.
First of all, how is your data center energy actually being used? Are you running multiple servers or distribution components when you could achieve the same performance with only a few? Could some of those servers be virtualized to save even more energy? You might be surprised to discover just how much redundancy exists in your IT configuration — and not the smart kind, either, but the energy-wasting kind.
You must also think about how much energy your data center devotes merely to cooling itself. Did you know that half of most data centers’ energy expenditures are for things like air conditioning? If that sounds all too familiar, look at ways of upgrading your old climate control system to a more efficient model and/or rearranging your IT components into hot/cold aisles for improved airflow and easier temperature control.
Even the type of electrical current used can impact your distribution costs. For instance, instead of expending energy converting alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) for your data center’s use, why not stick to DC exclusively for that part of your facility? You’ll not only reduce the energy spent on the conversions themselves, but you’ll also generate less heat, which in turn reduces cooling expenditures.
Need more help managing your energy costs? Contact us!
Beyond Energy Savings: The Many Benefits of Energy Efficiency MeasuresNovember 14, 2013
It can be hard for facility managers to get enthusiastic about fixing something that isn’t actually broken. Even though you know a new energy efficiency plan could save your business significant money over a period of several years, you’re still put off by the financial and logistical hurdles. But these changes won’t just reduce your San Francisco, San Joe or Bay Area company’s utility bills — it can also enhance your bottom line in other ways you may not have considered:
1. It can help prevent major problems from old equipment. If your facility has been struggling with aging equipment for many years now, you’ll have to replace those old components anyway, and proper sooner rather than later. Wouldn’t this be the perfect timing for a switch to new, more efficient systems? By introducing your energy efficiency tactics into your existing maintenance and renovation schedules, you can kill two birds with one stone — enjoying lower energy bills while also avoiding expensive, productivity-killing major breakdowns.
2. It future-proofs you against rising costs. We all know that energy costs aren’t likely to drop; on the contrary, service charges are likely to force a continual rise over the next couple of decades. The sooner you implement an energy efficiency plan for your business, the less of that upward curve you’ll have to swallow in the years to come.
3. It makes your facility more valuable. Buyers and renters of commercial properties are placing ever-higher priority on the energy efficiency of the buildings. To remain competitive, facility owners and managers need to show that their properties can compete with others in this department.
All this plus lower energy bills makes adopting an energy efficiency plan a sensible step in any facility’s long-term vision. The future starts now — so start planning!
Why Downsizing Your Workspace Might Not Save You MoneyOctober 31, 2013
Commercial real estate costs take up a significant chunk of any company’s overall expenditures, so it’s understandable that businesses are re-examining their square footage. But rightsizing doesn’t necessarily mean downsizing; how you’re using your space may be more critical to your productivity and profitability than how much space you’re using.
A “bean counter” who is going strictly by the numbers might argue that fewer square feet means less operational expense. But if you’re not cutting employees as well, that means you’re faced with the prospect of wedging the same amount of workers into less usable workspace — and that’s asking for productivity conflicts. You’re likely to have workers fighting over available facilities and equipment, straining to hear each other over the hubbub of conversations in confined areas, and generally getting less work done. So while you’re spending less on the space, you’re also getting less out of your employees and ultimately bringing in less revenue.
Proper rightsizing calls for an open-minded attitude toward how a given amount of space can be used. For instance, you might phase out individual offices in favor of multi-purpose collaborative areas. This would allow you to make use of a smaller facility while still giving your employees room to work together productively. Could some of those employees be working from home, or from their laptops? That’s another strategy worth looking into and possibly investing in. As long as teams can work together effectively in shared workspaces — real or virtual — you can downsize your building without downsizing your productivity or employee morale.
Best of all, smart workspace planning can save you money in its own right. By getting the optimal amount of productivity from each square foot of your facility, you may find that you don’t have to lose any square footage at all!