For many SMEs, hiring a facilities team to keep employees safe, productive and well-cared for is not an option. It’s unlikely there will be room in the budget for such a team, or to even recruit one person whose remit is solely facilities management.
It’s more likely that the owner will take responsibility for ensuring that not only the basics of facilities are covered, but also that workers are safe, secure and satisfied within their working environment.
We’ve experienced significant growth from being a small business, employing a few employees in 2002, to a team of more than 650 today.
While the increase in the number of staff has naturally put some pressure on the facilities, by keeping to three vital foundations of facilities management, our workforce stays motivated (and we were even voted one of The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work for 2015!).
What are these three vital foundations?
Health and wellbeing
Health and wellbeing covers a number of categories – a clean environment, adequate lighting, break or relaxation facilities, canteen, toilets, and so on.
Essentially, it’s the basics that make workers physically comfortable in their environment. Heating and ventilation is also very important in this respect, as getting this wrong could make for an unhappy workforce.
However, while it is not always possible to meet all individual requirements, catering to specialist needs with items such as orthopaedic chairs can be a great boost to worker morale. To find out if an office is properly equipped, the NHS has some helpful questionnaires.
Making staff feel safe is essential to a good working environment. Choosing an office in a complex which already has measures such as proximity cards, a maintained reception desk or a security guard as part of the rental package can be a great idea.
Most of these office spaces tend to have lighting around the building and in the car park, but when renting it’s always best to check.
Another consideration is any threat from inside the company. A lone working policy to help ensure that, should an incident happen, witnesses or assistance would be available is a recommended precaution to take.
Read more about creating a great office space:
- The seven most important factors to consider when moving office
- When the brief goes beyond the traditional CFO role
- How your office space can be adapted to attract new graduate talent
Protection against accidents and illness
To help identify a risk, measure it and find ways to remove or reduce its potential impact, regular risk assessments are vital.
The detail and complexity of a risk assessment should be proportionate with the level of risk measured. For further guidance there are many templates available on the internet or the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.
There are also steps employees can take to ensure their own safety and reduce accidents. Inductions and training are opportunities to provide team members with basic tools to help them deal with and report problems effectively. As there can be a direct impact on the success of the business from accidents and injuries so, investing time in these areas can be invaluable to stimulating growth.
For growing small businesses in the UK, managing facilities can be overlooked. However, when done properly it can help build the foundations for sustainable growth by supporting a happy workforce. By taking care of just three basic principles companies can help to secure a safe, motivated and productive team.
Aubrey Davis is facilities manager at business energy supplier Opus Energy.
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