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    Stop Treating Real Estate as a Commodity: Treat it as a Business Tool

    Elizabeth Dukes

    The basic concept behind a commodity is that there is considered very little difference between two like products. Oil is a prime example of a commodity--while oil from one region may vary slightly, their basic characteristics and uses remain the same. Oil, no matter which way you look at it, is oil.

    One common mistake amongst organizations of virtually every size is treating real estate as a commodity. Real estate is not a commodity. Real estate does not trade or move physically and its value does not

    your real estate is not a commodity it is a business toolchange regularly. It is, rather, an asset, with each building carrying its own set of properties, needs and functions. The sooner businesses start treating their buildings more like an asset and less like a commodity, the sooner that space will start actually BEING an asset.

    Considering space ranks second in cost, trailing only behind HR, proper utilization of a company's spatial assets is critical to ROI maximization. Therefore, it stands to reason that knowledge about how an organization's space is utilized coupled with flexibility to change, is fundamental to a company's very existence. And with nearly half of every workplace empty, and two thirds of all meeting rooms unoccupied, the need to make productive use of all space in your portfolio becomes more critical than ever.

    Many organizations are still a little ambivalent towards the idea of implementing facilities management software, still using antiquated processes such as emails, Excel spreadsheets for data tracking and PDF files for floor plan management. While these methods may be somewhat effective, trying to ensure each member of the team receives real-time, up-to-date information can lead to errors and is a costly way to manage your time. Since time management is also a critical component to any business, coordinating and automating the tasks that require your facility to run smoothly stands to bring you huge savings.

    Enter, the Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS).

    An asset management system affords you the ability to gather information regarding all assets in one, centralized database. Access to this up-to-date information provides you with the tools to see all assets including A/C units, alarm system, computers, printers and copiers. You get a clear vision as to how these assets are being utilized and maintained as well as where they are located. Coupling this asset tracking system with other software modules allows you to automate services such as air handler maintenance, ensuring assets receive the proper preventative maintenance to extend their lives.

    By linking the Asset Tracking module to other modules within the iOffice Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS), you achieve complete management of the inventory. Link to the iOffice facility maintenance software to both manage and track on-demand and preventative maintenance work orders. Ensuring your employees have a safe and secure work environment is high on your priorities list. Through your facility maintenance software, each service request can be set up to include clear work instructions and safety precautions. Should any safety concerns be found during maintenance or repairs, they can be documented and highlighted so you are made aware of potential hazards before safety becomes an issue.

    Aside from the everyday maintenance and repair of your building, treating your space as an asset means knowing your facility and how every square foot of it is used. With the huge impact space has on the bottom line, it is surprising how many companies do not have a basic understanding as to how their space is actually used. A space management software system provides you a graphic view of your building's floor plans, as well as the location of tangible assets such as computers, printers, etc. Through a space management system, you gain an understanding of how you use your existing space, providing you insight to forecast what you will need out of your space tomorrow. Metrics such as floor area, cost of occupancy, occupancy headcount, number of workstations, and utilization are key to planning for today, as well as the future.

    Once you have had an opportunity to analyze the spatial data, it is critical to utilize this information to achieve positive changes. Utilize tools such as move management software to plan and manage any moves or changes made to your floor plan, as well as any tangible assets. Gather information from various departments and employees as to the type of environment that encourages productivity, keeping in mind your pool of employees spans a wide demographic. Once changes have been made, have employees report feedback regarding these changes.

    It is crucial to remember that as the facilities manager, your workforce and its needs are ever evolving. Never assume that you have a 100% efficient space strategy. The needs of the organization and its employees, as well as technological advancements, require constant attention. Since your building is one of your largest investments, it should be treated as such. Through attention to facts and details, and with the proper management tools, your facility can start working more efficiently for you.

    Elizabeth Dukes

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Elizabeth Dukes

    Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.

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