The use of technology in the field of Facility Management is rapidly advancing. Since the invention of the computer and smartphone, a facility manager is virtually on call 24/7. Emails are being constantly received at all hours of the night notifying us about HVAC issues, data center failures and emergency situations that need immediate attention. Some would say that this is a wonderful tool: being able to respond to a critical situation in a matter of minutes or hours reduces property loss and downtime astronomically. It wasn’t until I was sitting in class one day that I thought about this a little differently.
My professor, a seasoned veteran in facility/property management and former VP of a major grocery conglomerate, starts the night by telling the class a story. Back in the 1970’s, “when you left work, you left work”, he stated. “The only way you could be contacted was by phone. So if a building flooded or a HVAC system went down through the night, no one knew about it until the morning. If someone did find out about it, all they could do was call you on your home phone. If you were outside in the yard, visiting a friend or at the movies, you would never know about the situation. But this was okay. You simply came in the next morning, discovered the problem, and resolved the issues.”
Mind blowing, right? It is virtually impossible to do that today. He went on to state that he worries about the facility manager’s quality of life. If you never received an emergency call or email, you spend your evenings with your family, relaxing your mind and body. In today’s world, receiving that call or email could pull you away from your family or cause anxiety and stress for you the entire night. So how is your quality of life? Are those late nights in the office or emergency calls taking years away from your life? The world may never know!
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) promotes policies that improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world. They compile statistical data and rate the quality of life in over 30 countries. OECD rates the quality of life in 11 categories:
- Civil Engagement
- Life Satisfaction
- Work-Life Balance
Unfortunately time will not allow me to touch on all of these areas, but let’s delve more into the work-life balance. OECD breaks this particular category up into 2 major sections, employees who work very long hours and time devoted to leisure and personal care. Based on 2012 statistics, almost 12% of the US working population works over 50 hours a week. I wonder how many facilities and property managers are part of the 12%. We all understand that some aspects of our job such as hours worked just may come with the territory, but how do we cope or find ways to create a better work-life balance? I‘ve made just a few recommendations.
Team Building and Delegation
Many Facility Managers find it difficult to relinquish control over projects or tasks. A great leader will always try to develop and create efficient and knowledgeable teams, so use them. Delegating more responsibilities to your team will allow you to deprogram and provide more time for strategic thinking.
Find a hobby or way to relieve stress! For me it’s music and cooking. For others it could be a casual jog or working crossword puzzles in the newspaper. Just do something to take your mind off work.
Set time boundaries for work such as when to leave for the day. If you must carry work home, set a time limit for work at home. Of course there are always those times that we all must hunker down and just get the job done however long it takes, but not every day!
Make your Vacation a Vacation
While I was preparing for my wedding and honeymoon and some wedding gowns and veils, a very wise man stopped me in the hallway at work. He stated, “I’ve never called you on your work phone and you not answer it. No matter if it was day or night and that’s great! But this one time honor my request. Turn your work phone off and leave it at home when you go on your honeymoon. This place will go on without you and if it breaks, it will be waiting for you when you get back.” That was the best advice I ever received! I came back not only a married man, but a fully rested one as well, ready to tackle my job again. You get the drift, no interaction with work on vacations. Unplug yourself! I promise it will be waiting for you when you get back!