Is your office building green? LEED rated? Is it smart—using any and all of the latest technologies to automate tasks and functions? If so, your modern office might require a different kind of maintenance than your parents’ workplace did.
For example, if your office is going green with new, high-efficiency toilets, you might have an issue with clogs in the pipes. High-efficiency toilets require much less water than older models, but older buildings have plumbing designed to work with the older models. It doesn’t sound like much of a problem—less water flowing through the system is a good thing—but it can result in chronically clogged drains if the plumbing is geared for a much higher flow.
Dust can also be an issue, especially for smart offices. Proper cleaning procedures are essential, but a good air-purifying system could be the lifeline.
Smart technology in offices is designed to make life easier, but headaches can result if the system goes down. Having a tech guru on staff to make sure your office’s smart features are in good shape is key.
For Thomas Ngo at Innovative Comfort Systems in Lynnwood, Washington, it’s all about air quality and temperature in green buildings. He has seen it firsthand—his company specializes in HVAC systems.
“Each individual has their own comfort temperature,” he says. “That’s pretty hard to satisfy. However, humidity control and odor control are things workers can’t customize on their own. They can bring lights or plants but not everyone has access to temperature settings. How many times do you see people get in line to change the thermostat?”
One tip this HVAC pro gives to other office managers dealing with air issues? It’s not the temperature in the office—it’s the humidity. “With humidity under control, most people can tolerate up to 80 degrees without complaining,” Ngo says. A humidifier system will save your company money on its energy bill, he adds.
Brad Stultz, human resources coordinator at Totally Promotional, an online promotional products company, says the biggest issue for his maintenance people is access.
“One of the biggest hurdles to face in a modern office environment for a building manager or maintenance person is having access to the areas they need in order to effectively do their jobs,” he says. “With a move to cloud-based access fob solutions, that hurdle is much easier to manage than it used to be.”
How is it easier? The smart fob does the work. A building manager with a cloud-based access fob solution can access employees’ accounts and grant them entry into a specific area, Stultz says.
“The system can be programmed to select specific times to enable access,” he adds. “It also allows a building manager to log in remotely and grant temporary access at any time. This can be necessary if an employee needs access outside their regular work schedule.”
Having a smart office is great, but certain technologies might take as much in upkeep as they give in streamlining tasks, says Ziva Urlep, office manager at Visionect, a digital signage company based in the European Union.
“With everything that has to get done in an office daily, any technology that adds to maintenance and drains resources is a no-go,” Urlep says. “Technology that requires little looking over or sends automatic email alerts when maintenance is required is the right technology. By bringing it into your office, you get the benefit of saving time so you can focus on other tasks. If that isn’t so, you need to get rid of it ASAP and find a better option.”
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