Chapter News

Human Factors for FM

Jul. 24, 2019

In my May 2019 article regarding technology, I discussed how Facility Managers are provided a blank state and fabulous opportunity to incorporate new tools, update outdated processes and freshen up approaches to how the entire space is governed when presented with new office space.

The same can be said when it comes to Human Factors, simply defined as studying all factors impacting humans to conduct their work in in the right way.  Human Factors play a vital role in planning for a new office space and can be the key to successfully creating one, seeing as it is human expectations and employee satisfaction that you are aiming to accommodate once you reach the finish line.  As often the case, companies look to relocate offices due to growth, to evolve and change and to update business practices and environments that slowly and inevitably become outdated. 

As previously shared, my company had the unique opportunity to create the ultimate space when moving from our vastly outdated Chelsea neighborhood office to Wall Street in January 2019.  The former space was built twenty years ago with minimal to no upgrades made. 160,000 square feet of West Side warehouse space was replaced by high cubicle walls that once served a business purpose but just made the entire space feel cluttered, cavernous and even claustrophobic. 

From my first day of employment back in 2013, this space suffered from a serious space crunch – offices, workstations even conference rooms, having only fifteen of them, that mostly lacked up to date A/V technology. The inner space bathrooms were dungeons and no matter what upgrades, you could never make them feel any less dungeon-like.

So when the official announcement was made that our NYC HQs was new moving, it was clear that in order to make the new space far superior to the old, the Steering Committee had to tap into the collective thought process, and even emotions, of the employees to make the new space something to write home about.

As a result, EVERYTHING was thoughtfully analyzed, beginning with the location of the new office space. Yes, rent played a factor, but homework was also done on the different neighborhoods and what amenities and transportation choices they offered, especially when compared to the old neighborhood.  After numerous locations reviewed around the city in comparison where all employees lived, the Wall Street area was finally chosen for its centrally located vibrant neighborhood and major transportation hubs (Fulton Street Subway Station, the PATH train, the NJ Ferry, etc.).

The old space was also heavily scrutinized under a microscope to determine how we could make the new space meet our 21st century business needs, specifically by plugging into the very thing that would know best: the employee population. Via multiple e-mail solicitations and surveys, town hall meetings, etc. the Steering Committee continually asked the employee body what would make their jobs easier, more productive and even in some cases, fun.  It was important to Executive Leadership that our fellow colleagues felt included and that their voices were being heard and considered in the decision making process. 

The welcomed feedback received was indeed vast and very loud: 

The furniture must meet current aesthetics while also providing modern ergonomic support. TO accommodate, adjustable style, low walls benching workstations were provided throughout the space so the employees could feel more communal and so teams could work together more easily. While some culture shock had to be overcome due to high wall environment of the old space where most employees could easily become lost in, many welcomed this new, open space approach and believe it brought the employee body closer.   Employees were also provided numerous furniture styles to choose from with even a mock station area created so they could test pilot the furniture.

Collaborative eating locations for employees were also sought after and delivered with superior food services, comfortable seating and even scenic Hudson River views.

Other requests included more conference rooms, huddle rooms and collaboration spaces with the best technology possible. As a result, we dramatically increased our meeting room spaces by with complete AV/VC functionality.  A technologically enhanced conference room scheduling system was also introduced with pads installed on each of the rooms so not to be so heavily reliant to schedule such rooms via the Concierge  

Again, when addressing human factor issues, especially where it comes to new office space, it is the employee population that is the secret to creating a practical, productive workspace that meets the current business needs.  

Written by Paul Haley of Wolters Kluwer, IFMA NYC Communications Committee Member

The Villager: Javits Center to Become City’s Solar Leader

May. 10, 2019

BY GABE HERMAN, THE VILLAGER | The Javits Center is taking a shine to sun power in a big way.

Governor Cuomo recently announced that a developer has been selected to design and install more than 4,000 solar panels on the roof of the Chelsea-based convention center. It will be the city’s biggest rooftop solar project to date.

Siemens, a company that produces energy-efficient technology, was selected for the project, which will offset the building’s electric load.

An estimated 1.3 million pounds of carbon emissions will be offset annually, or the equivalent of removing 262 cars from the road, according to the March 20 announcement.

The Javits Center’s rooftop will be getting a slew of solar panels. But they won’t cover up the building’s existing rooftop. Instead they’ll be placed over existing HVAC systems. (Courtesy Javits Center)

Construction of the rooftop solar grid is scheduled to begin in early 2020. Siemens will own and operate the solar panels. The New York Power Authority will then purchase the solar energy, and sell it to the Javits Center.

Along with the rooftop solar panels, there will be a street-level solar array along 11th Ave.

Cuomo touted the Javits Center project as part of his Green New Deal, which aims for New York State’s electricity to be 100 percent carbon-free by 2040. The plan also calls for 70 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2030.

“New York State is leading the nation in advancing bold actions for a cleaner, greener energy system that also spurs economic growth,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Installing solar technology on the roof of the busiest convention center in the United States sets an industry standard for venues throughout New York and across the nation on how best to embrace renewable energy.”

The Javits Center — located between 34th and 38th Sts. and 11th and 12th Aves. — currently has a 6.75-acre green roof, which was constructed as part of the center’s 2014 renovation. The green roof includes technology to control temperatures throughout the facility, which has reduced the center’s energy consumption by 26 percent.

The roof is also a wildlife sanctuary for 26 bird species, five bat species and thousands of honey bees, according to the Javits Center. The planned rooftop solar panels will be built on top of existing HVAC units, to avoid disturbing the roof’s greenery.

“Our green roof has become a model of sustainability for buildings throughout the Empire State,” said Alan Steel, president and C.E.O. of the New York Convention Center Operating Corporation, which operates the Javits Center. “We are proud to work with the New York Power Authority to further expand our environmental impact.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman, who represents the Manhattan district including the Javits Center, said in a statement about the solar project, “This is the busiest convention center in the United States — and the perfect place to model a swift transition off of fossil fuels with New York City’s largest rooftop solar project. Climate change isn’t waiting for us, so we can’t afford to wait to prevent its worst impacts.”

Adapting Your Office Space for the 21st Century

May. 9, 2019

When presented with a newly constructed, state of the art office space, Facilities Managers are provided a blank slate and fabulous opportunity to incorporate new tools, update outdated processes and freshen up approaches to how the entire space is governed.

Moving my company’s NYC corporate headquarters from the Google Building to Wall Street this past January gave the Facilities Team a huge opportunity to take all of our tools and processes and “twenty first centurize” them, especially since we were in a space that felt like the 19th century for quite some time.

Upgrades and changes can be minor but still pack a mean uppercut financially. For example, we did away with our internal visitor system which entailed signing a log book and receiving a paper/sticker badge. Visitors still receive a paper/sticker badge, but now we use a cloud-based system that records pictures, prints badges and most importantly, provides reporting functions when necessary.

And no more booking conference/huddle rooms only through the reception team. Interfaced with MS Outlook, everyone can schedule a conference room of their choosing based on their needs with the Conference Room Scheduler. This system also ties into the chic, electronic keypads that each conference/huddle room is equipped with. The keypads show each daily reservation while also giving you an option to reserve through the keypad which in turn links back to the Outlook system.

Space management is only as effective as the tools you have in place. When I first arrived at my Wolters Kluwer GRC in 2013, they were using Aperture, a program I remember taking a three-day training class for way back in 2000 while at my first NYC Facilities job. Though rudimentarily archaic, Aperture did the trick by providing basic space management, accurate/up to date floor plans of the space, seating information, vacancies and again, most importantly, reporting.

Before that while at ING Investment Management, we strictly used AutoCAD to manage the space. The program made color-coded plans by team, but the process to accomplish this was very long and tedious since AutoCAD is not the most user-friendly application for professionals outside of architecture and/or engineering. That is because AutoCAD was not designed for space management but to design the space you are trying to manage.

But companies (obviously staffed by ex-Facilities Managers) got smart over the years, tapping into the “space management” market and the powerful aspects of AutoCAD to infuse more user friendly and acute space management programming, thus creating a very effective tool for Facilities Managers that is all cloud-based and globally accessible.

Knowing that we would be moving into a new space in late 2017, I started the hunt, asking around, only being aware of Archibus, which I pursued a few years earlier, only to be shut down for budgetary reasons. Ironically, these “space management” tools were very hard to find, even in the most obvious places.

My fellow WK Facilities team members joined the hunt to find the perfect program and found a few systems after some digging: Archibus and FM Systems. We spent many hours reviewing, flipping every stone, kicking every tire, testing each program’s strengths and weaknesses to see which would best fit our specific needs. While we eventually would like to roll this system out to all of our national sites, the primary function of this intense review was to find a robust and effective system that can tame the unpredictable FM NYC Beast. Our new NYC office also had specific needs not required at the other locations. My fellow team members also knew I was very hungry to finally implement this system, providing me full support along the way.

In the end, we learned that Service Now/Nuvolo was already being used by our internal IT folks that also had a robust space management tool and integrated ticketing system, so we decided to roll with the punches and move forward with the system already in place.

In the end getting a new space up and running takes a lot of work but look at it positively as an opportunity to rear your Facilities team and technologically into the current century!

Written by Paul Haley of Wolters Kluwer, IFMA NYC Communications Committee Member