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May 11, 2016

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FM focus: The business is moving

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Paul R King, Director at Charlton Ross looks at the facilities manager’s role when the time comes for a business to move.

Whether because of the end of a lease or because of business need following growth or acquisition, the business has decided to move into a new building, or part of a building – in 12 months’ time!  The Facilities Manager is given the challenge and responsibility to make the move, the transition, as seamless and pain free as possible for the organisation.

As is often the case senior management have probably made the decision on where the business is moving to without much discussion with the Facilities Manager.  Up until this point the discussions have centred around the financial impact of the move and the HR implications of moving 1,000 staff from The City of London to the West End.

Time has been spent calculating the impact of the move on staff journeys to work, on the proximity of transport infrastructure to help the business meet its ever ambitious carbon reduction targets, on the location of suitable eateries and sports and fitness clubs to help maintain staff morale and wellbeing and the ease of clients visiting the new offices.

HR may have had input in regard to space requirements based on whether the move is going to facilitate a staff reduction or staff increases.

Now the Facilities Manager is brought into the team to ensure the move works and that business interruption is as limited as possible.  The theory being that staff will leave the existing premises on a Friday afternoon in 6 months’ time and on the Monday morning arrive at the new premises with everything in place, ready to go, business as usual.

How can that be achieved?  What needs to be thought about?  What could possibly go wrong?

Effective space planning, desk layout and configuration will need to be included in the project plan.  Moving the IT infrastructure, ensuring that all business critical data and applications are safe, secure and backed up into a robust and effective facility will need careful planning, testing and implementation.

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The Facilities Manager will be involved in, space planning, furniture procurement, design of utilities infrastructure, M&E contracts, cleaning contracts, reprographics contracts, catering contracts, telephony requirements and implementation, liaising with IT in relation to IT data, hardware and DR requirements, security contracts, staff access arrangements including proximity cards, buildings insurances, welfare provision, recycling and energy management, lighting, heating, ventilation, and mail room requirements to name just a few.

From a safety perspective, if the move is into a new building or a newly refurbished building there should be plenty of sources of information that will help, guide and inform the Facilities Manager.  The Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015 require a health and safety file to be prepared containing much of the information the Facilities Manager will need to manage, maintain and run the building. For example, that beautiful 10 storey glass atrium has a huge expanse of glass that will need to be cleaned, light fitting 150’ from ground level that will need to be changed, what provision has been made in the design for such tasks?

Have any confined spaces or voids been created during the build and if so, what are the arrangements for safe access?

According to HSE’s L153 Guidance to CDM 2015, Appendix 4, the following information should be considered for information in the health and safety file:

  • a brief description of the work carried out;
  • any hazards that have not been eliminated through the design and construction processes, and how they have been addressed (eg surveys or other information concerning asbestos or contaminated land);
  • key structural principles (eg bracing, sources of substantial stored energy — including pre- or post-tensioned members) and safe working loads for floors and roofs;
  • hazardous materials used (eg lead paints and special coatings);
  • information regarding the removal or dismantling of installed plant and equipment (eg any special arrangements for lifting such equipment);
  • health and safety information about equipment provided for cleaning or maintaining the structure;
  • the nature, location and markings of significant services, including underground cables, gas supply equipment, fire-fighting services etc.;
  • information and as-built drawings of the building, its plant and equipment (eg the means of safe access to and from service voids and fire doors).

Regulation 38 of The Building Regulations 2010 requires that all necessary fire safety information is provided to the new owner of a building in order that they are fully conversant with the building’s fire precautions.

Regulation 38 is a requirement under the Building Regulations for England and Wales to provide fire safety information to the ’responsible person’ at the completion of a project, or when the building or extension is first occupied.  The “responsible person” is the person who has day to day control over a particular demised space or building.

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The responsible person must be provided with details in relation to any fire engineered solutions designed and built into the building as compensation for any deviations from codified standards, details of the fire strategy for the building and the evacuation plan; will the building operate a simultaneous evacuation, a staged or phased evacuation, which provision has been made for disabled refuges.  The Facilities Manager cannot begin to establish the business’s own fire procedures and plan staff and fire warden training until such time as that information is forthcoming.

While this is all going on of course, the Facilities Manager will have to be heavily involved in discussions with the existing landlord or their agent in relation to the dilapidation costs for the building you are moving out of.

As many construction projects seem to overrun, is it possible that fit out contractors will be on site at the same time as base build contractors are still snagging?  Is it possible the IT team will be accessing the building when it is still a construction site?  Yes, and yes are the answers to these questions and therefore robust management arrangements will need to be put in place to make sure roles and responsibilities are well understood and importantly risks are managed through effective cooperation and coordination.

With all of this ahead, suddenly that 12 months doesn’t seem so far off.

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Paul R King is Director at Charlton Ross, a risk management professional with 25 years of hands on experience at strategic, tactical and operational levels in a range of sectors.  Paul is a Graduate Member of the Institution of Fire Engineers, a Chartered Safety Practitioner and a Member of the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management. Paul has been a technical author and peer reviewer for Barbour, part of the UBM Global Publishing Group.

 

 

 

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