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Facilities Management at Christmas

opinions 09.12.13

Managing a Merry Christmas

At Christmas time there are more than a few similarities between facilities management employees and Santa’s elves. Both must be highly organised to create a seamless festive experience and, although one can’t be sure what goes on in Santa’s grotto, it’s likely both rely on communication and teamwork to make operations a success. FM teams devise plans for the festive period months in advance, working with the client to ensure that all necessary considerations are taken and expectations met. If you’re wondering what these plans may entail, please read on…

Cleaning – Christmas parties in the office have a dramatic impact on office cleaning plans. It is customary for most cleaning to take place towards the end of the working day, when employees have left the building. In the event of an after hours function however, cleaning must be arranged when the evening has finished to ensure standards are maintained. Equally, reduced office occupancy during the festive period also impacts on the cleaning schedule. Complete office closure provides a great opportunity for deep cleaning, after which light cleans are sufficient until normal occupancy patterns return in the New Year. This ensures that hygiene standards are maintained without unnecessary numbers of people working. 

Health & safety – Christmas decorations look beautiful and herald the start of the festive season. Nevertheless, trees, tinsel and fairy lights all come with their own particular challenges. Decorations cannot be simply thrown up without coordination. Detailed plans must be made and Health & Safety assessments carried out. Wiring must be secured to prevent tripping; trees, nativity scenes or Santa’s sleighs should not disrupt safe passage or obstruct safety exits. In addition, electrical specifications should be checked to ensure that building systems have the capacity to meet these extra requirements. All electrical equipment should be tested and fitted with an inline residual current device. It is also important to ensure that all bulbs are of the correct wattage, to ensure they don’t overheat, and turning them off at the end of the day is good for safety and the environment. The fire hazard caused by the traditional meeting of festive lights and real fir trees can also be avoided by choosing a fire-proof artificial tree, an option many organisations are now taking.

Security – Since Home Alone hit cinema screens in 1990, we have all been aware of the security threat Christmas can present. Offices are home to great quantities of valuable technology and information. Unsurprisingly, criminals see empty or intermittently-occupied offices as ripe for the picking and increased vigilance and security is required during this time of celebration.

Maintenance – Reduced office occupancy makes year-end an ideal time for extensive maintenance work to be carried out. Painting, re-carpeting and wiring are all disruptive activities and, if the correct precautions are not taken, can be potentially dangerous and have an impact on employee wellbeing. Carrying out these tasks at this time allows them to be completed with greater speed and efficiency. FMs must coordinate all such maintenance activity with management to enable a shared understanding of office occupancy and expected functionality.

Catering – The changing and often short-notice demands of Christmas entertainment are more challenging to catering teams than the production of the festive treats. Coordination between client, FM and catering employees is key. If a large organisation is planning to provide a Christmas lunch for example, the impact on the volume of visitors to catering facilities is likely to increase. In order to avoid lengthy queues, which are unproductive and can have a negative effect on employees, FMs should work with managers to coordinate a rolling system of arrival and departure. Reduced customer numbers should also be a consideration for catering teams during the festive period, as many people chose to take this as annual leave. FMs need to make sure they have a clear understanding of expected office occupancy and adapt food production and manning levels accordingly.

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