If you own or manage a commercial building, you know the HVAC system is a never ending project. As long as it remains in good condition, and repairs are made on a timely basis, everything works well. If an unplanned disruption happens, it can send everyone in the building into a state of panic.
In many ways, a major HVAC project can be easier than a smaller one. Major projects are usually carefully planned, and bring the entire building’s schedule into review. They may be performed on weekends or at non-peak time frames. And they are usually well coordinated and well communicated – two things that bring every person impacted into the process.
Smaller repairs and common maintenance problems usually have the opposite effect. Because they are smaller in nature, management usually schedules them without thinking twice about the consequences. Or worse, they simply “happen” and are dealt with on an as-needed basis. Staff and tenants can get annoyed, complaining about temperature or air quality, and increase potential work processes due to the rising level of complaints.
Although its been eluded to, what makes a project go well? Communication. Communication truly is the key to successfully managing any project you are about to undertake. While you may still have questions and complaints, if people are forewarned, they are usually more tolerant of the process.
Communicate about your projects in three ways:
Provide clear communication about the process, its time tables, and what to expect
A quick email with a phrase or two stating “the HVAC system will be worked on today” can leave people apprehensive and wary. A well thought out memo explaining the process, how long its expected to take, and what disruptions could occur will put people at ease. If you issue a memo days or even weeks in advance, they will know to reschedule major presentations or appointments that could be impacted by unplanned disruptions. That gives you more time to recover, even when the unexpected occurs.
Talk about the exceptions as well as the process
A fire alarm may be inadvertently tripped. Chemical smells may occur. Air conditioning systems may be turned off for periods of time. Certain areas of the building may be inaccessible. All of this and more may be potential problems, depending on the amount of work required. Who will this impact most? If certain repairs will impact certain places of the building more, make sure you address the problems ahead of time to keep everyone safe and secure.
Have a clear way to communicate throughout the process
If people have questions, give them a clear understanding of the process to take if they need answers. You can request emails before a certain date for scheduling conflicts in the event it’s a major project. You can provide mobile phone numbers for immediate assistance. The clearer you make the process, the easier it will be to solve the problem quickly and efficiently. And not have irate people on you hand throughout the process.