Amid the hardships and pain the COVID-19 pandemic has produced, maintenance and engineering managers should look for opportunities to help building occupants and the public better understand what their departments do and why that work matters in creating healthy workspaces.
Now, the Universities have delivered such an opportunity.
BU students recently voiced concerns about the need for a student life facilities fee at a time when their access to campus facilities is limited due to the pandemic. Besides funding the student union and student recreation and wellness center, the fee supports management, building maintenance, equipment and student activities and a significant number of related staff positions.
The student’s concern is understandable. They’re still developing their understanding of and appreciation for the role facilities and other infrastructure components play in society. Truth be told, though, the general public probably doesn’t understand much more about the role of maintenance and engineering, certainly not as those activities relate to keeping buildings healthy and safe, especially in a pandemic.
That’s the opportunity for managers. They can explain the long-term maintenance commitment organizations make when they build facilities, the importance of adequately funding that commitment – even when buildings are closed or underused – and the essential actions front-line technicians take each day to ensure buildings perform as designed and intended.
That’s not the end of the opportunity, though. Beyond explaining the basics of building maintenance and engineering, managers also can help the public appreciate the role of the facilities management profession. The public’s attention has never been focused on facilities like it is now, and managers aren’t likely to have a better opportunity to begin changing the “out of sight, out of mind” image of maintenance and engineering.