The Official Publication of the Corporate Facilities Council
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From Your President
News & Events
"Don't clap too hard—it's a very old building."
Denise Johnston has been actively involved in IFMA on a variety of levels in the Greater Triangle Chapter as well as the Corporate Facilities Council. She served as president of the Greater Triangle Chapter (2008-2009), Programs chair of the CFC (2010-12) and also as Secretary of the CFC (2012-14).
From Your President
Call Center Outsourcing
Happy Summer Ya’ll:
Summer is a time to recharge, refresh, and reflect. I often think of growing up in south Louisiana and the hot lazy days of summer. To cool off, we often sat on my great grandmother’s front porch and watched ships go up and down the Mississippi River; this usually occurred while drinking a glass of cold lemonade. Many of our conversations were about the destinations and cargos of the ships but the most pressing topic was planning for the hurricane season. Would we be blessed and spared this year or would we have to evacuate? If we had to evacuate where would we go and what articles were important to bring along? Perhaps those earlier years were stepping stones to my becoming a facility manager—plan ahead, adapt, expect the unexpected and most of all be flexible. What I remember most about those hot days on the porch was a sense peace and calm. (Did I mention we did not have air conditioning?)
Summer is the mid-year mark: it is time to begin preparations for the 2018 budget season, have hurricane plans and contingency measures in place, and get your snow plans in order. Before you know it, we will be celebrating the holidays and preparing for the new year.
My fellow facility friends, you must remain calm to weather the storm, so amidst all of the action items and planning, take note that resting and recharging is very important to our well-being. Many recent studies stress the importance of getting away from the workplace to recharge, restore, and experience some peace and calm. Rest helps us fire on all cylinders, think clearer, and be proactive. Facility managers are typically on call 24/7 but we must carve out some time for ourselves. And while you are planning the second half of the year, please plan on attending World Workplace 2017! WW provides a format to network, gather information and keep up to date on the latest workplace trends.
The Corporate Facilities Council has an exciting program planned this year. Our program is scheduled for Wednesday, October 18th at 8:00 a.m. Our topic is “Real Life Conversations: Business Continuity Planning.” As I mentioned earlier, I learned at a young age to expect the unexpected, and as a facility manager this is one of our responsibilities. Our panel will feature CFC members who have real life experience with business continuity planning. Whether simply drafting plans or having to use those plans in response to a business disruption, our panel has stories to share about their lessons learned. Each will provide a unique perspective, real examples, and practical advice to help all facilities professionals be prepared for whatever challenges may arise. Please look for upcoming details regarding the program on our website.
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the council and am delighted to be working with the fun, talented, and very experienced board we have in place. I am excited about being a part of the Corporate Facilities Council and hope that you find the CFC a resource to enhance your knowledge and gain insight about important facility management issues.
Have a great summer, enjoy some porch time, and see you at World Workplace.
Facility, the official publication of the Corporate Facilities Council of IFMA, is published quarterly.
Copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved.
IFMA Corporate Facilities Council 800 Gessner Road, Suite 900
Houston, TX 77024-4257
ifmacfc.org | email@example.com
Executive Board 2016-18
Denise Johnston, CFM
Beth Osgood, CFM
Koch Business Solutions
Joe Selby, CFM
Wells Fargo Bank
Immediate Past President
Steven R. Pons, CMP, AssocRICS
Sarah Wortman, CPSM
Koch Business Solutions
Sue Thompson, CMP
AAA Club Alliance
Steven R. Pons, CMP, AssocRICS ServiceLink
Buck Fisher, CFM, IFMA Fellow
Facilities Management & Operations Assessment
Alice Houguisson, CFM, SMP Edelman
Jeff Martin, CMP
Wells Fargo Bank
Melodee Wagen, MCR
Workspace Strategies, Inc.
Cultivating A COALITION OF SAFETY
By Michael H. Corcoran, Ph.D
How can we prevent the tragedy of violence in the workplace? How can we provide the protection due our colleagues, customers, and visitors? Is there anything that is truly realistic, useful, and doesn’t break the bank? Do we have to design or alter our facilities to be as impenetrable as Fort Knox?
Workplace shootings continue throughout our country, seemingly on a weekly basis. The recent shooting of politicians on a baseball field exemplifies how uncontrollable this problem has become. To top it off, everyone wants someone to blame in order to mitigate liability.
For example, after the recent UPS shooting in San Francisco, a career prosecutor who handles threat cases opined that offenders almost always leave a trail of clues and expressed frustration that no one connected the dots before the attack thereby concluding that employers should take greater notice of such factors once an individual is hired. While I do not disagree, I wish it were that simple! It is not just an employer problem; in any organization, it is everyone’s problem. The usual considerations of warning signs and indicators, response protocols, notification hierarchies, risk mitigations, investigations, compliance rules, cyber resilience, security, and incident response solutions are all good, but we must start with individuals.
People are reluctant to report suspicious behavior for fear of being accused of making a false accusation. This may cause few to speak up. No one wants to be seen as getting involved in others’ problems. As Dr. Phil McGraw likes to ask, “Yeah, and how’s that working for you?” The key to success is establishing a culture that promotes actively looking out for others’ safety.
This is why a company must look seriously at the risks and decide on an approach that makes sense for its employee population, location, and other important factors. What is right for your organization? How can you make changes to the culture that will stick?
Start out by considering the aforementioned safety and security protocols. Consider which of them is truly needed. Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention Standard, the current national standard for a successful workplace violence prevention program, established from a 2011study conducted by ASIS International and the Society for Human Resource Management, indicates the first step necessary is to assess the real needs within your organization. OSHA has noted we can’t simply copy someone else’s program or seek to implement a program just because it seems like a good idea. We must show why our individual organizations have a need for a program and assess what will work best within their specific cultures and environments.
For example, there’s no lack of attention to the “active shooter” scenario. Organizations ranging from Homeland Security to local police agencies, on down to security experts in the private sector, have devised numerous programs and catchy phrases (“Run-Hide-Fight”) as easy-to-remember methods of dealing with shootings. But will they really work for your company?
For example, the medical field, hospitals in particular, have voiced concerns over the “Run-Hide-Fight” solution as an ethical and moral disconnect. Should medical professionals run from patients in danger? Will that be considered abandonment? Is there a moral obligation to protect those unable to move, since they came to the hospital for life-saving care? Isn’t self-preservation a personal issue in any environment? Is it acceptable to leave someone behind because they are terrified and can’t respond, perhaps exhibiting a deer-in-the-headlights state of panic?
Then there are cost factors. Any organization can cost-out the price tag on a successful workplace violence prevention program versus the actual downtime-and-lawsuit reality of a violent event occurring in its workplace and, looking at the bottom line alone, justify a decision to do nothing. Unless one has experienced workplace violence firsthand, it’s almost hard to believe it can happen to this company and these people. In fact, we know from available statistics that despite more media exposure to these events, some of the most frightening incidents of workplace violence are actually on the decrease:
“The number of workplace homicides fell from 518 in 2010 to 417 in 2015, the last year for which complete statistics are available. Of these cases, only an average of 12 percent were committed by a current or former co-worker. Relatives or domestic partners were responsible for about 43 percent of workplace homicides involving a female victim, and strangers, too, are frequently to blame for killing employees at work, for example during an armed robbery.” 1
A complete workplace violence prevention program can seem rather costly. The OSHA rule states that anyone with over 25 employees must have a program in place, and this can be daunting for a small company to address: conducting an initial assessment, perhaps placing a few security systems in place such as badge readers, adding better outside lighting, and taking employees out of the productive cycle and conducting proper training so they can recognize and respond appropriately to warning signs. Employers can wonder if, given their close-knit working relationships and small employee population, why all of this would be necessary. I won’t even mention the additional time and training required of those overseeing the program as well as the paperwork OSHA expects.
Additionally, the courts have weighed in on some of these events over the years and have also made the system more convoluted with civil rulings regarding liability and responsibilities. For example, an employer may be held liable for what they knew, or should have known, about a potential volatile act. Furthermore, in many other countries (even our neighbors in Canada), there are specific criminal laws in place where not taking appropriate action for developing a program, conducting training and engaging in prevention can result in an arrest!
When I first began my consulting career in 1988, advising private companies and organizations, I was always surprised at the numerous “experts” who would speak to groups and simply hand out a checklist of the behaviors to look for in the workplace, passing this off as sound protocol for recognizing and thus preventing workplace violence. True, most clients were probably thankful for this tangible item they could see and hold in their hands. It seemed to be a concrete way of identifying potential problems before they developed. What was interesting was how many folks, after reviewing the list, would insist before the speaker was done handing out the list that they knew people who might become violent.
Trust me, they didn’t. Workplace violence does have some recognizable precursors, but not every specific behavior means a person will necessarily become violent. Some behaviors may have no meaning given an individual’s personality, background, and social intelligence. Since an assessment of the true potential risk towards violence is so involved and unique to each individual, how can any organization be expected to pick out people who may become violent? Imagine the embarrassment to both you and the person identified if you are wrong.
As much as the violent act is what probably a significant percentage of the general population believes workplace violence really is, they’re wrong. A workplace violence perpetrator will have a litany of long-term issues, self-perceived wrongs, emotional problems, and perhaps desires to seek retaliation or some kind of justice, that begin long before an actual physical event. Workplace violence is much more than a disturbed person bringing a gun to work. It includes the recognizable precursors of bullying, intimidation, harassment (including sexual), rudeness, entitlement, incivility, depression, suicidal ideation, domestic (intimate partner) violence, and other similar concerns.
Guess what? I’ll bet the company for which you work already has policies and procedures in place addressing these very issues. So a workplace violence prevention program does not have to reinvent the company wheel. It merely needs to be promoted in such a way that it can improve efficiency, productivity, safety, and ultimately a feeling of “I’m happy to come to work here.”
Remember I said earlier such a program must start with the individual members of the organization. The problem, of course, may be getting people to recognize they are an important part of the organization and thus have the ability to make their place of work meaningful and rewarding for others. It goes without saying that it takes strong leadership in the C-suite to recognize the need and benefit of creating a culture that makes every employee feel valued, where concerns and fears can be confidentially shared without retribution. This can be done effectively and successfully, and is the most important component of a workplace violence prevention program—and every organization can address this without shelling out enormous amounts of money.
So companies don’t have to institute costly initiatives that might result in yet another binder stored away on a bookshelf or dropped into the bottom of a file cabinet. The best workplace violence prevention program is always going to be a culture where employees know they are responsible for one another and look out for each other’s safety. If you would want someone to report threatening comments directed at you, then it makes sense that you would seek to protect a coworker who might be a target of a potentially disturbed individual. So a company’s best strategy for preventing workplace violence? The Golden Rule!
Dr. Michael H. Corcoran is the president of The Workthreat Group and has amassed over 34 years of experience in the law enforcement and threat assessment fields since entering the United States Secret Service in 1970.
His company provides threat assessments, determinations of true potentials for violence and criminal profiling for governmental agencies, law enforcement, Fortune 500 companies, school districts and healthcare providers around the world. For more information, visit his website.
It’s funny how the people closest to us often have the least idea of what our working life looks like. My wife recently found out what my world looks like, and she didn’t like it one bit. Her office is in the midst of a move. The old building, which the company she works for has occupied for nearly 30 years, reached the point where its potential to support their workforce had long since passed, so the decision was made to pull up stakes and move to a brand-new facility across town.
Pretty mundane stuff for us FM’s. For the first 15 or so years of my career I was The Guy who made stuff like this happen. I started my career in FM as a move coordinator, space planner, and furniture specialist. Facilities relocations were, almost literally, my bread and butter. So, when the missus came home and told me she’d been volunteered by her group manager to be their group move coordinator, I knew exactly what she was in for. She did not. Not at all.
The move team provided her with information about the new building. She distributed it to her group. They ignored it, didn’t read it and came back to her to ask questions that were abundantly answered in the information she’d distributed. The move team provided her with details about how to order new equipment (headsets, monitors, etc.) that would be necessary in the new space. My wife distributed the info to her group. They ignored it, didn’t read it and came back to her to ask questions that were answered completely by the originally distributed packet.
You can see where this is going.
“These people should be fired!” “I weep for the future of our company.” “If I get one more call from someone asking me about a thing I’ve already explained six times I’m going to need a drink.”
And that was before the move. On the first day in the new building, she came home after work and went straight to bed, utterly exhausted. The next morning, I asked if she was okay and she said this: “You seriously did this every week? How are you not in prison for murder?”
It’s been a few weeks now, and mostly everyone has regained their ability to think, process important information, and get their work done. All but a few even love the new building, and my wife has returned to being masterful at her job, which no longer involves office relocation or FM. But she does remind me a bit of someone whose been through a civil war – a bit shell shocked and not quite as impressed with the other humans she shares an office with.
Moves are hard, and I’ve rarely seen a company truly get this. Logistically stuff gets from point A to point B, and people get back to the work they’re there to do and management will look upon the FM organization and figure we’re pretty good at what we do. What doesn’t get seen is the hand holding, the patience to repeat instructions that were clearly spelled out the first time and two, three or four more times, with a smile and no acknowledgment of this repetition or commentary on the intelligence of our colleagues who require it.
In normal business-as-usual world you get instructions in your job and you do your best to absorb them and act on them appropriately. That was what my wife expected from her colleagues, because she’d seen them do it for years. She was exhausted by needing to repeatedly tell someone how to order their new headset, or apply labels to packing boxes who she had previously witnessed rapidly grasp far more complex concepts and processes. The difference is emotion.
Most of us have no emotional connection to the tasks we execute for our jobs. It’s our job. We do it. Packing up and moving, whether it’s down the hall to a new cubicle or across town to a completely different facility, pokes at our sense of security. I have never seen a professional throw a temper tantrum about his or her work. I have seen many professionals throw epic tantrums about moving. The best FMs get this. We really get it. Anyone can make boxes and office contents get from one place to another. If you can do it and not leave everyone with PTSD – that’s the trick.
My wife’s final comment, a few weeks post-move: “If anyone ever asks me to volunteer to be a move coordinator again, remind me I’d rather eat a bowl of ground up glass.”
Joe Selby is a Retail Property Manager for Wells Fargo Bank, managing a large portfolio of buildings, responsible for capital planning, operations and ongoing maintenance programs.
The Critical Factors that Will Lead Your Company to the Right Decision
By Richard Fanelli, AIA, CFM, IFMA Fellow and Alfred F. Motta, MSRE
Almost every organization faces a point in time where it has to make a decision on whether to renovate and remain in a facility or relocate to a new one. This decision is complex and the decision-making criteria depend on a variety of circumstances and conditions. We’ll address the circumstances and conditions of renovate vs relocate for three categories of facilities:
1. Organizations that own its facilities
2. Organizations that lease its facilities
3. Organizations that own and are considering selling and then leasing.
Organizations that Own Its Facilities:
Owning your facilities is a long-term commitment that needs to align with a long-term business strategy, with the incentive that you presume your facility will appreciate over time. However, when an organization owns a facility, the building systems that were new when purchased or built start getting close to the end of their useful lives after about25 years (especially if they were not well maintained). The facilities layout and space standards that made sense when the organization first occupied the building may not work for the organization now due to a wide range of reasons, such as organizational growth or right-sizing, adoption of a telework policy, a new organizational structure and new technologies that have changed the way people work and collaborate, and more. The building may not meet today’s building and accessibility codes, so when a major renovation is considered, code compliance may need to be incorporated in the renovation scope in order to get a building permit.
Availability of Swing Space: Another major consideration in whether to renovate or relocate is the degree of tolerance an organization has for disruption. If nearby swing space is available into which to move staff while renovations are underway, and it’s large enough to minimize the number of phases in the renovation, then renovating becomes a viable option. The fewer the phases, the better. If little or no swing space is available, then the decision to lease nearby swing space adds additional cost to the project. Renovations in occupied space is highly disruptive and costly due to the need to pay for general contractor overtime and the need to relocate staff multiple times before they can move into the final location.
Building Location: The location of your facility is another critical factor. If the facility is ideally located based on staff commuting demographics, proximity to public transportation, client locations, nearby amenities and siting/views, then the decision to renovate is much easier. If staff or client location demographics have shifted or nearby rail transportation is not available to attract young millennial staff, then there may be a strong argument for relocation.
Building Image and Footprint: As companies grow and build branded images in the marketplace, an old facility may not be in alignment with a desired new image. Of course, most any building can be re-skinned to dramatically change its outward appearance, but in many cases, the organization may have also outgrown a building footprint and may have a desire to have all staff under one roof rather than growing to multiple sites. It is imperative to have a short-term and long–term space needs analysis conducted in order to understand what an initial footprint should be and what is needed for useable and gross square feet in the long term. This information is basic—the initial tool for decision-making.
Conceptual Budget for a Proposed Renovation: One essential decision-making tool is determining the probable cost of a building renovation so the cost of staying and renovating vs the cost of relocating to a new build-to-suite site or existing building is thoughtfully compared. All issues must be considered, such as:
◾ Mechanical system upgrades to handle a higher density of staff, major repairs, or central plant replacement
◾ Electrical system upgrades to meet tomorrow’s needs
◾ Code compliance renovations for life-safety systems
◾ ADA accessibility issues
◾ Plumbing fixture counts to meet a denser head-count
◾ Fresh air exchange rates to handle code compliance for large training rooms/conference rooms.
These are just a few of the major issues that trigger major costs. The conceptual costs for interior demolition and new construction can be determined based on a preliminary space plan test fit and demolition plan, along with keyed-in notations on the level of build-out and potential upgrades. The conceptual costs for mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and life safety systems can be determined by a scope statement and schematic plans and specifications.
At the inception of the due diligence pre-acquisition process, a financial proforma is developed which can assist in the discounted cash flow analysis specific to the company structure, and collective and segmented projected growth of the company’s business units. The foundation rests in the findings outlined in detail in a Property Condition Assessment Report.
Adequate Reserve Funds: When an organization owns its building, it is imperative to establish a reserve fund that can range between 2-5% of the value of the building (in addition to budgeted R&M and preventative maintenance initiatives). However, there is no rule-of-thumb given the specific workplace needs of an organization, the industry type, age of a facility, and other factors that are dovetailed into what should be a 5-year operating budget, adjusted year-by year. Al l too often, corporate or non-profit building owners who have no reserve funds are in a difficult situation when faced with a major renovation. They may not have the working capital to pay outright for major renovation, and they may not qualify for or have access to sufficient funds to pay for one. This may force the organization to sell asset(s) and lease a future space.
ROI and the Time Costs of Money: All of the above costs must be viewed as a return on investment. A new mechanical system and a new energy-efficient building skin will have a major impact on energy efficiency and utility costs. An energy model can be created to calculate savings, and the pay-back period for the improvements can then be calculated. In many instances, the useful life of mechanical systems never see it through in good working condition to the end of the 27.5-year depreciation period without major R&M, restorative processes , or outright replacement. Hence, the demand placed upon such equipment must be considered if daily use exceeds the design load, or there is non-stop 24/7 use for which most equipment is not designed. This is most commonly experienced with A/C chillers, VAV boxes and cooling towers, elevator systems, and fire-life-safety systems.
Some initiatives are not truly a monetary decision, such as sustainability initiatives with energy efficiencies in mind, e.g., regenerative motors that are considered when refurbishing or pursuing modernization of elevator motors, controls, and safety controls.
New Furniture: New furniture to meet the needs of today’s staff and shrinking space standards is also a major budget line item, regardless if a company is renovating or relocating. It is not unusual for all new furniture to cost an average of $25/sf as a conceptual budget line item. Improving ergonomics and incorporating the ability for staff to sit or stand while working are some of the justifications for considering new furniture.
Relocation to an Existing Facility to Purchase-Do Your Homework: If the cost to renovate an existing, owned facility becomes cost prohibitive, or a multi-phased renovation of occupied space is deemed too disruptive, the option to purchase another facility and relocate might be a practical option. In most metropolitan areas in the US, there are often fewer viable options to buy than there are to lease. Finding just the right existing building for sale in the ideal location, with the right branded image, with the right amount of square footage, with fairly new building systems may be few and far between. When you are considering a purchase of an existing building, you must do a thorough architectural and engineering due diligence analysis of the building before moving forward with the purchase. Even new spec buildings that look great on the outside may have value-engineered MEP systems on the inside.
Build-to Suite Option: A build-to-suite option may be a viable approach as long as one has the time and money to implement this option. A zoning study based on a schematic building design may take up to a year and a-half to get reviewed and approved by the local jurisdiction—even longer if an environmental impact study must be conducted. Then there is preparation of the final building design and drawings, going through the permitting process, and construction. This entire process can easily take three years.
Going from Owner to Lessee: Many organizations that have traditionally owned facilities have made the decision to “cash-out” when the real estate market is healthy and have joined the ranks of the renters. This decision may make sense for some of the following reasons:
◾ More flexibility in the size and location of a facility (ownership can limit flexibility)
◾ Building ownership is no longer a core operations principle, based on a business owner’s philosophy or board of directors’ votes
◾ Cash flow is improved when money doesn’t have to be spent for the care and maintenance of a building structure and grounds—let someone else take care of it! However, this may not be the case in triple-net leases where a tenant is responsible for everything other the roof or structural defects.
◾ “Off balance-sheet financing” with a lease scenario may be desirable, as borrowing to own is reported as debt. This can backfire if a company is being valuated by experienced buyers who look far beyond financial information disclosed on public documents and regard leasing as debt regardless of off balance-sheet accounting concepts.
◾ Cumulative cash flow over time
◾ Reaction to a competitive threat requiring expansion or a new location into a new market with no time to build or buy
◾ Size of the requirement: if too small, it is generally not worth the risk of the inability to sell swiftly if the intended use is terminated or space is outgrown.
There are no easy answers to the decision-making process an organization must undergo to come to the conclusion to renovate or relocate. A variety of factors must be considered and then weighed according to importance and economic sense. In order to make the right decision, a company must do its due diligence and play out all scenarios. Only then can it choose the option that makes the most sense.
The new and enhanced online discussion and document
sharing platform called Engage is open and ready to use. It allows you to easily interact and communicate online, so you can continue conversations and make new professional connections with colleagues in the facility management industry.
Go to Engage right now and log in and check out the site. Click on the Corporate Facilities Council discussion group and get connected─complete your profile, set your email preferences, and begin interacting with FMs all over the world!
Richard Fanelli, AIA, CFM, IFMA Fellow is a registered architect with 40 years of experience and a member of the Corporate Facilities Council. He is President of Fanelli McClain, Inc., an architectural firm with in-house MEP engineering, located in Fairfax, VA. He can be reached at 703-563-0379 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alfred F. Motta is an independent real estate advisor located in Bethesda, MD. He can be reached at 240-463-8995 or email@example.com.
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New Member Welcome | April - June 2017
Sue Thompson is the editor of Facility, the immediate past president of the IFMA Delaware chapter, a past president of the CFC, and the Facilities Manager at AAA Club Alliance.
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The 5th RICS Summit of the Americas took place this past May in Chicago where RICS-qualified professionals and industry stakeholders from around the globe gathered together for an exclusive opportunity to network and participate in market-leading discussions across a wide variety of trending topics.
Erin Sevitz, IFMA Director of Communications, asked me to represent IFMA at a panel discussion about the future of FM. Its purpose was to discuss (at a high level) the overall trends highlighted in the recently released research report, “Raising the Bar: From Operational Excellence to Strategic Impact in FM.” It pulls together insights from over 2500 facility management professionals from around the globe. I volunteered to revisit the initial 2012 study to track changes and trends in the profession.
Panelists included Tony Keane, IFMA President and CEO; Larry Melton, President, Building People; Adeyinka Okuwoga, Division Manager, World Bank; and Neil Shah, Managing North American Director of RICS.
It was an engaging conversation with lively participation from the audience. The overall conference is running like our first IFMA Facility Fusions, where the entire group is gathered in a general session in the morning, and break outs to various sessions in the afternoon.
I look forward to other opportunities where we can share our expertise.
Alice Hogueisson, CFM, SFP
RICS Summit of the Americas
News & Events
I apologize for what I’m about to share.
I know it will be very irritating to some to read about what bugs me. I know that what bugs me does not bother the majority of people I know. There is a percentage of readers who, when I mention what I’m about to share, will say out loud as they read, “Me, TOO!” They are, however, only a smallish percentage, and so I usually stay silent about what bugs me. Wouldn’t it be great if people would generally stay silent about their opinions and focus instead on the important things?
I’m talking about the important things such as using language properly. Here are a few highlights of the things that bug me:
The misuse of “you and I.” I am faced almost daily with someone who misuses this phrase, as in, “This is going to have a great impact on you and I.” I bite my tongue. I have a conversation with myself. I do not correct the person by saying out loud, “That’s ‘you and me.’” I want to say it out loud. I say it out loud when someone on television uses “you and I” without hesitation when the proper statement would be “you and me.” I say out loud, “It’s not going to have an impact on I. It’s going to have an impact on YOU and on ME.” Someone will say, “That car belongs to Bob and I.” No; that car belongs to Bob and it belongs to me, so the car belongs to Bob and me.
The unfortunate popularity of “him and I” or “her and I” or “him and me.” You get the picture. I hear this in everyday conversations, in job interviews, in radio interviews with intelligent authors. It has become common usage in American speech. I have heard it spoken in television dramas. “Him and I” don’t go to the store, because I wouldn’t say “Him is going to the store,” and I wouldn’t say, “I is going to the store,” but he is and I am so I’d say, “He and I are going to the store.” “Her and her mother were close,” I heard spoken by a British actor who portrays an extremely intelligent detective. NOOOOOO, I thought to myself—aren’t the British supposed to be really good at language? Have we infected the Brits? I’m heartbroken. Wait—no. An American wrote that line. But shouldn’t the British actor have known the right way to speak? Sigh.
Your welcome WHAT? Whenever someone responds to an email, “Your welcome,” I want to write back: “Your welcome what? Welcome mat? Welcome home party?”
Here’s the thing: there are these words called contractions. They are a couple of words put together to make one word, with missing letters replaced by an apostrophe, such as the word “don’t,” which is “do not,” and “we’ve,” which is “we have.” Among the many contractions we use in English is “you’re,” which stands for “you are.” As in, “You’re welcome.”
Apostrophe fixation. A plural is not created by adding an apostrophe and an “s,” but by adding an “es” or an “s,” or sometimes “ies.” An apostrophe and an “s” signify a possessive. There are burritos on the menu today tells us that more than one burrito is available. The burrito’s contents fell into his lap refers to a specific burrito. So many of us are apostrophe happy. Jenny’s very happy today, we will say of one person. There are several Jennys in the room today tells us more than one Jenny is present.
Again, many people think such things do not matter. I honestly know very intelligent people who don’t spell correctly or use proper grammar. It doesn’t make me refuse to deal with them. But I can’t help it: these things make me cringe inside. I apologize for that. I know you’re really bright and know how to do things. I respect you. Reading “your welcome” or “your funny” won’t cause me to disrespect you. It won’t make me dislike you or ignore you, because I know you, and I know this is just one of those things that don’t matter enough to most people who didn’t like school or didn’t grow up with their heads in a book. Just consider that such things may matter to a person you wish to impress. You want to be perceived as someone who received a decent education. You want to been seen as reasonably intelligent. How do you know who those people might be when you encounter them? You don’t know. I don’t know. You and I don’t know. So in a day and age when using spell check is as simple as a few clicks, why don’t we just take a minute and get it right?
Advocacy Day and Public Policy Forum 2017
Sept. 12 - 13, 2017
Arlington, VA 22202, USA
IFMA's World Workplace 2017
Oct. 18 - 20, 2017
Houston, TX, USA
Utah Property Management Associates
Nu Skin Enterprises
Wai Qiao Chan
Logistic Construction Pte. Ltd
Hor Chee Seng
Wacom Technology Corp.
Brooke Haddock, FMP
Dr Pepper Snapple Group
SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union
Bintai Kindenko PTE Ltd.
Brian KenestrickSerco Inc.
Kyung Hee University
KimKyung Hee University
Chi Wai Leung
Bureau Veritas Hong Kong Limited
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council
The Home Depot
Haley & Aldrich, Inc.
Lake Trust Credit Union
Rutgers Business School
Marvin Richardson Jr.
Whiting-Turner Contracting Co.
UT Properties Limited
Lian An Soh
CBRE Pte. Ltd.
Poh Geok Thong
Raffles Hospital P/L
Centurion Security & Investigations, Inc.
NYC Fire Department
Hong Kong Adventist Hospital
Ascendas Services PTE Ltd.
Creating and operating a call center is a complex and expensive exercise. Today more and more companies are looking at outsourcing as an alternative. There are three main reasons a company should consider outsourcing their call center:
1. To avoid distracting the company from its core business
2. To avoid the high levels of capital investment required to create a call center
3. To reduce costs involved in the ongoing operations
Despite these compelling reasons, there are a number of issues to be addressed before a final decision about outsourcing the call center is made.
1. Business focus
For most companies customers are their life blood ─ and today, one of the most popular ways of interfacing with them is through a call center. But running a call center is unlike any other part of the operation because it requires special skills, different ways of working, and a great deal of highly-complex technology. So for more and more companies the solution is a completely outsourced call center. These centers already have the people and the technology in place to provide customer service on behalf of their clients. Many of these operations are now well established. They have survived in a competitive market by developing best practices to provide first-class service.
Outsourcing services grew out of the success achieved in the early 1990s by companies, especially in India, that initially offered offshore services to outsource a wide variety of back-office business processes. These companies recognized that call centers rely heavily on business processes and the skills of the agents. To fill that need they adapted operations to provide call center services, and they found a ready supply of highly-trained resources willing to work in their centers. Coupled with their lower cost structure, they are able to provide full services at very competitive rates, allowing companies to focus on their core business and the outsourcer to provide these specialist services.
2. Up-front investment
Creating a call center is a time consuming, expensive and risky project. The first requirement is to decide how large the center needs to be in order to find offices to house the staff and equipment. Many experienced people say this is a "black art" because there are no hard and fast rules. The primary consideration is the number of agents required. This depends, amongst many other things, on the number of expected calls, the probable average length of calls and the pattern of calls -- all unknown quantities until you get practical, operational experience. Add in factors such as other forms of communication (email, fax, letters, chat etc.), number of call backs, the number of outbound calls etc., and the calculation becomes highly complex.
Having acquired the office space, it must be fitted with furnishing suitable for a call center environment ─ telecommunications and data networks to allow agents to receive telephone calls and other forms of communication, and IT systems to support the resolution of interactions. Each of these tasks is time consuming, capital intensive and high risk. Then there remains the biggest tasks – recruiting agents and their supervisors, defining the operational processes and procedures, training, and defining the performance measures required to achieve an effective operation.
Outsourcers have all of these operations in place. As far as technology is concerned, all the company will need to do is work with the outsourcer to put in place the data communication network required to transport data to and from their site and possibly to allow access to corporately housed IT systems. Again the outsourcer will have agents already in place familiar with working in a call center so the company will need to create and participate in training them in the company's specific processes and procedures. None of this will come at zero cost but it will be a much lower cost, less risky and faster project.
3. On-going operations
Although creating a center is expensive, operating the center is where the costs really accumulate and where the real benefits of outsourcing become apparent. Over the expected lifetime of the center, companies need to take into account depreciation, office, staff, hardware and software maintenance, telecommunication costs, and the need for some technology enhancements or replacements. All of this is avoided by using an outsourcer.
First of all, the normal model for an outsourcer to conduct business is on a fixed, all-inclusive rate for each seat used. This allows the company to start with a small number of seats and grow the number as demand increases; to start with a limited number of services and expand as the model is refined, and to align the number of seats with actual demand as the outsourcer will have the ability to re-assign agents between contracts. Another benefit is that there is always the option to bring the service back in-house if circumstances change.
Secondly, the cost-per-seat will be lower than the cost of any in-house resources. An agent in North America will cost in the order of $45,000 per annum, whereas the offshore cost will be only 10-20% of this figure depending on where the outsourcer is located. In the U.S. model, the cost of agents will typically represent 60-65% of the total operational costs, whereas off-shore is it likely to be only 30-35%.
Thirdly, there will be no overhead or reoccurring costs such as management, additional IT resources to support the specialist technologies, capital depreciation, software maintenance charges, and the cost of replacing agents that leave ─ which can be quite high, as attrition rates can be nearly 20% per annum. The outsourcer will carry these costs, but again they will be lower as the outsourcer will be able to take advantage of economies of scales and their ability to negotiate prices.
Concerns to be addressed
For most companies protecting the brand image is important, especially with prospects and customers. Most outsourcers, however, have the technology available to identify which customers are calling and so they can easily respond according to specific processes and procedures set down by their clients. These can easily be tied down in a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that is bound within the contract.
The same SLA can include what levels of customer satisfaction must be achieved, speed of response to customer interactions, and overall performance. The SLA and embedded guarantees offer some defense against unwanted circumstances, but in the end it will require building a level of trust in how the outsourcer works and how they recruit and manage employees.
Bruce Lyngaas is the president and CEO of Professional Dispatch Services, LLC of Houston, TX.
By Bruce Lyngaas
Outsourcing the Facility Services