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A day in the life of a Facilities Manager

July 21, 2021

Facilities management is a more complex job than many people realise. While it’s often the province of qualified tradespeople, the role also involves customer service, attention to detail, and strategic forward planning.

“Facilities management is a behind-the-scenes role, so it’s easy to overlook everything they do,” says Grahame O’Brien, Director at Independent Property Group. “When you do pay attention, it’s quickly obvious that these guys are the real deal. Quiet achievers who make a huge difference.”

We spent a day with Tony, to find out what’s really involved.

Routine checks

The daily walk-through is a vital part of Tony’s job. Building managers know their buildings like the back of their hand, so if anything’s out of place, they’ll spot it immediately. That allows them to take care of problems before anyone else even notices.

“I’ll start the day with a perimeter and building check,” Tony says.

“That means I’m walking through the complex to check everything’s running smoothly and there haven’t been any disasters overnight. I’ll check that the doors are all working properly for security, the lights are all working, there aren’t any damaged areas or rubbish.

“I check the basement for leaks, especially if it’s been raining. If something does look like it needs repairing, we let the strata managers know that they need to get a plumber or an electrician out.

“Basically, I’m keeping an eye out for things that, if I lived here myself, I would want to be fixed.”

Periodic and compliance checks

 After the daily check, if all seems well, Tony can move on to the periodic checks.

“Then I’ll move on to the things that need checking regularly, but perhaps not every day,” Tony explains.

“I work to a schedule to see what’s been tested recently and what’s due.”

Compliance is a big part of building management. Building managers make sure that everything complies with building and safety standards.

“One important thing I’ll always check is the basement and car park fans,” Tony explains.

“These monitor the levels of carbon dioxide in the area. If it gets too high, the fans kick in to disperse the fumes and improve air quality.

“It’s vital that they’re in working condition because carbon dioxide is invisible, and if the levels are too high it can be fatal. We make sure the fans are tested every 6 months, but I’ll also take note if they’ve kicked in because that might indicate another problem.

“Roof safety is another big one.

“Roof access hatches, anchor points, and ladders all have to adhere to strict safety standards. If we get a contractor on the roof, and they get injured, and it turns out that we weren’t compliant, that’s a huge problem because insurance may not payout.”

Routine and emergency repairs

Of course, some days are smoother than others. Whether it’s routine repairs or unexpected emergencies, Tony and his team have to be flexible enough to fit it into the schedule.

“Some days, managing your time is easy.

“Other times, you might start the day with one task in mind and end up responding to urgent repairs instead. Last week, I had a day when I needed to meet with seven different contractors on various jobs.

“Sometimes it means working through a lunch break and then taking work home at night to catch up on reports. Being a building manager is all about rolling with the punches.”

Taking the good with the bad

“Unfortunately, we do get occasional break-ins which we’ll usually discover first thing when we do our perimeter check. We’ll report it to the police, of course, but as part of the investigation, we will check the security cameras.

“Often we don’t know what time the break-in happened, just that it was overnight, so it might take us half a day to go through the footage.

“That can be quite distressing. You’re watching footage of people coming onto the complex, shining torches into people’s cars to see if there are valuables inside, causing damage to the building. As a building manager, I’m assigned to particular complexes. You do get to know them well and you treat them like your own home. You want them to be nice, safe, pleasant places to live.”

But no matter what the day throws at him, Tony and his team come up smiling.

“It really is a satisfying job.

“If there’s an issue, I like to go above and beyond to solve it for people. You get to know a lot of the residents, at least to wave good morning to.

“Even if it’s something as simple as, I’ll spot that someone’s thrown some rubbish onto the grounds and I’ll go and pick it up, it means I’m making their living experience that little bit better. I get job satisfaction from that.”

To learn more about what to look for in a facilities manager and what questions to ask read on. If you’re considering engaging a facilities manager to help you protect your investment.