The 20-21 school year is underway and schools across the country are still navigating how to safely and effectively return to campus. Whether your institution has chosen an online, in-person or a hybrid model, there are many health, safety and logistical concerns to consider.

Robust technology like Accruent’s FAMIS 360 Space Planning can help streamline this process by allowing you to better track spaces, keep your employees healthy, conduct inspections, manage visitors and track your FEMA costs. Here, we have compiled some tools, tips and FAMIS 360 best practices that you can use to accomplish these tasks and facilitate a smooth return.


The Most Prevalent Challenges of Returning to Campus

When it comes to returning to the workplace or to the school environment, there are some common challenges that organizations face. They must navigate how to:

Create manageable and safe spaces

This is all about having transparency and control over your space utilization. The campus must adapt through design and technology to allow social distancing and ensure that both employees and students feel safe and comfortable as they navigate the new normal on campus. This will require:

  • A reconsideration of key spaces throughout the campus
  • An increase in bookable spaces and hoteling to maximize transparency
  • Embracing the world of virtual and hybrid interactions

To make this possible, it will be helpful to adopt widely accessible, data-driven space management tools like Accruent’s EMS or FAMIS 360. This will help to optimize operations to revive revenue streams, reduce costs, and increase utilization of space and resources.

Ensure data-driven visibility

The only way to ensure continued safety and agility is through data-driven visibility into spaces, utilization and sanitation. This will allow for the monitoring, managing and responding to space-related concerns, and it is key to effectively maintaining social distance, sanitation and campus-wide transparency.

Keep people at the forefront

This is the most important key to a successful return to campus. The positive impact of returning to campus hinges on participation from your people. You must:

  • Encourage accountability
  • Re-establish the campus culture
  • Ensure that the people on campus feel safe and heard

It will be essential to keep these three elements at the forefront as you navigate each element of your safe return. Here is how you can use your FAMIS 360 Space Planning tool to address all three areas of concern.


How to Use FAMIS 360 to Solve Return-to-Campus Concerns

Prevent the spread with staggered schedules

To reduce capacity and allow for social distancing and decreased contact, many schools are opting to stagger schedules, both for students and for employees. For students, many schools are considering splitting multi-day courses into multiple sections, e.g. half the class will come to the lecture on Mondays and participate online on Wednesdays, while the other half will do the opposite.

The same tactic can be effective for work and crew management. You can split crews into an A-crew and a B-crew and allow those crews to work in different buildings or on different days. That way, if someone gets sick, it only potentially affects a portion of your crew, so you have some employees to keep things up and running.

How it works using FAMIS 360

It is easy to adjust for this kind of schedule in the FAMIS 360 tool: you simply change your schedules and mass update work orders. You can also handle one-off requests using the workload tool. Here is how you accomplish each task:

  • Start by navigating to your admin page in the FAMIS 360 tool
  • Open your options and search for crews
  • Once you have configured your COVID crews, you can easily reassign and edit work orders to those crews
  • You can modify individual work orders or use the “select all” button to assign all upcoming work orders to a particular COVID crew
  • Next, in your comments, you can notify your internal and external requestors of this update
  • Repeat the process for each building, alternating to assign the appropriate COVID team

You can also handle one-off requests or reschedule to make changes.

Increase hygiene with scheduled cleaning and sanitization

The standards about deep cleaning are always changing and, in the wake of COVID-19, there are more rigorous requirements than ever before. You can effectively execute and organize detailed inspections using the FAMIS 360 tool so your organization can keep up with industry best practices and safety standards.

Using a tool like FAMIS 360, you can:

Complete Ad Hoc or scheduled inspections

Inspections can be performed ad hoc or on a schedule. When it comes to on-campus sanitation, automation or advanced scheduling can help you stay on top of your efforts and ensure that no room goes uncleaned after use or over several days.

That said, you will also need to execute ad hoc cleaning as unexpected situations are sure to arise. Being able to do this easily and effectively using technology will, again, ensure that these efforts are manageable and completed successfully.

Track sanitation compliance over time

The right tool can also track compliance over time. For example, if you really want to know how often a certain air handling unit is being cleaned based upon COVID standards – rather than your regular preventive maintenance standards – you will be able to track that information. You will also be able to track what is been done versus what remains incomplete, so nothing goes unnoticed.

Track inspection failures and generate corrective work orders

If an inspection fails your score level, a robust tool like FAMIS 360 can automatically generate a corrective maintenance work order to do a follow-up with additional work. Say, for example, that you have an inspection that goes through step one. You can rate that inspection on a scale of one through five. If it does not hit your minimum acceptable rating, you can mark it as a “fail” and the system will generate a corrective maintenance work order to follow up and do the additional work.

How it works using FAMIS 360

Enter your FAMIS 360 System and look at your inspections.

You may want to track the difference between APPA cleanliness and COVID cleanliness. To do this, create a new inspection class and label it “COVID.” Underneath that inspection type, you can also separate based on location – kitchenettes, break rooms, restrooms, offices, classrooms, etc.

Once this is set up in your system, your custodians or contractors can check off exactly what has been cleaned in each area. If they miss a step, it can be marked as not complete. Comments can also be left, and the room can be assigned with a condition of “good” or “needs attention” using the dropdown field.

By clicking the “OK” button, the inspection will be in the system and trackable. Later, you can go in to look at the individual inspection for the room and see that everything has been completed. In addition, you can see specific comments, along with work orders that have been generated as a result of a failure.


Track FEMA Costs for Easy Audits and Documentation

Many higher education institutions have received funding or grants from FEMA. When you receive that funding, you need to make sure that it is trackable, auditable, and that you are easily able to access and organize all associated documents. Additionally, you have to make sure that your FEMA documents need to be detailed, including updates and pictures. A facility management tool like FAMIS 360 can help you keep track of all of this information, allowing you to:

  • Track costs and your audit trail
  • Manage work orders and make them searchable so you can easily find and distinguish COVID-related orders
  • Ensure all hours are billed correctly
  • Submit organized printouts to FEMA
  • Keep track of your invoices

How it works using FAMIS 360

Track costs

First, you can set up your work orders to track all costs associated with the work. For example, if you buy materials through the FAMIS 360 system – like PPE – or submit costs as work orders, you can keep better track this information.

This includes labor, materials – everything. To this end, FAMIS 360 can also help you keep track of your audit trail. This is easiest if you set up specific account numbers for any FEMA grants that are sent to you. That way, they can charge those costs directly to that account number.

Particularly if you have FAMIS 360 set up and synced to your ERP system, it is billing directly back to that grant number and all of this information will remain organized.

Make your work orders searchable

You can also make those work orders searchable in the system. This can be done by setting up tracking codes in FAMIS 360.

For example, you could set up a designated COVID tracking code. With that, you could track all work orders that are specifically related to COVID. You can also create a specific FEMA tracking code if, for example, you want insurance.

Alternatively, you can also set up failure codes. Most of the time, we think of failure codes as a failure on a piece of equipment, but COVID response can also be a failure, since it is something that you are doing outside of your normal daily practices.

Finally, you can also add types and subtypes to the system. Generally, it makes sense to keep the types and subtypes the same because you are still completing a task like cleaning. But you may want to keep track of whether it is a COVID cleaning versus a regular cleaning. That way, if management ever asks, "How much money did you spend on COVID cleaning?" You can have that information tracked and readily available.

Ensure your hours are billed correctly

You can also consistently review work orders. To provide the information that FEMA is looking for, you will likely need to verify hours worked by your employees, as well as the equipment that you have added to the work order – and these numbers will have to match.

You want to make sure, for example, that you are not charging an employee for two hours’ work while charging a piece of equipment for eight hours. This is something that FEMA will definitely come back and check, and you cannot have any discrepancies.

Submit organized printouts

FEMA wants to see printed paperwork. In FAMIS 360, you can set up your work orders to print with your general information, your request details, your request history and your procedures. Here, you will want to include all your costs, dates and children work orders – along with any relevant before and after pictures.

You can also track these work orders so they appear and print separately from your other work orders. If you would like to send the information electronically, you can print to PDF and send it to them as a PDF, but keep in mind that this is still a print function within the FAMIS 360 system.

Track invoices

Finally, you can use FAMIS 360 to keep track of your invoices. All your different quotes, any letters, anything that you might find relevant, or you think is relevant to that particular work order that somebody is going to come back and question you on, go ahead and attach it to the work order because they will always be there.


Effectively Manage Your Uncommon Spaces

When you consider space management in the context of the pandemic, one important thing you will need to track is the uncommon usage of spaces.

It is likely that you have all of your normal day-to-day space management information already stored in a system like FAMIS 360 space, but you might have some new or uncommon space usage that is not currently being managed – for example, if you have a space that is being temporarily lent out or used for storage. This can be managed in an FM tool.

How it works using FAMIS 360

Configure user-defined fields

You have unlimited user defined fields available in FAMIS 360, and you can gather information easily using the space survey tool. Once you have all the relevant information captured, it is also really simple to generate a quick report, to take a look at your spaces, and to understand what the picture looks like based on the information you have gathered.

The user defined field will support a variety of different data types. You can select the currency, date, numbers, texts, and yes or no. So, for example, “PPE required” might be a yes or no. You can also put it with a grouping, restrict it to certain space classes or make it required.

Update particular spaces with your new user-defined fields

Once you have added your user-defined fields, you can update an individual space to reflect the new UDF. You can also search for a particular space like a room and see all of the available information about that space, or enter a note saying, for example, that the space is being lent to a medical organization for research and testing of vaccines. Now, that will be tracked against this space.

Edit many spaces using the space survey tool

Although it is easy to edit individual spaces, it may take a bit of time to do it for 100-150 different spaces that might have new uses during this time. That is where the space survey tool comes into play.

To use the space survey tool, start by accessing your space survey module. Here, you can generate the type of survey that you want to do. So, whether you want to survey your area information, occupancy information, user defined fields, you can. You also have the ability to do a full survey if you want it to be comprehensive.

Survey spaces across locations with multi-device capabilities

Next, once you are ready to conduct those surveys, your surveyor can simply jump into the system using any device, including an iPad. That way, they can walk around in an area of Wi-Fi and survey all of the spaces within that area.

Create comprehensive, accurate Excel Reports

Finally, once you have gone through and captured a lot of that information – either manually or using space survey tool – you can jump to “Space Reports” and easily build a custom report to get this information out into an Excel document. Once again, you can easily filter this sheet to an individual building and floor. You can also select the fields you want included in your report.

Overall, it becomes very easy it is to build out new user defined fields, to edit spaces – either manually or as a bulk process using the space survey tool – and to generate Excel reports to see that information in detail.


Plan for Hurricanes and Other Disasters

Also keep in mind that these functionalities are not just applicable to COVID-19. It is also hurricane season, and these hurricanes can move inland and cause a lot of flooding. You must plan for this and other strange events: what is your plan with COVID? How are you going to have your staffing with the understanding of COVID? You have your summer months, which most universities do not have students on campus this summer because of the COVID, but students return to school in September. How are you going to have your staffing still separated with your COVID response?

You need to make those types of decisions now. For example, need to start pulling your hurricane plan, and adjusting your hurricane plan. What is your plan going to be like for the summer? What is it going to be like when the students return to campus? Not only are you updating your plan, but you need to update your EOC with the new plan, so they fully understand what facility's plan is should a major event like this occur.


Conduct Effective Visitor Management and Contact Tracing

Finally, let us talk visitor management. The FAMIS 360 “Visitor Management” module allows you to schedule visits of people who are coming onto the campus: you can walk-ins, check-ins and check-outs, and more.

Of course, you are not going to be able to keep track of everyone that comes on campus – that are going to be, for example, people running through the campus for the day to get their exercise or big untraceable events like football games. However, you can try to start keeping track of people who are actually come into the buildings on a day-to-day basis, whether it is to visits professors, to speak for the day, or to do a meet and greet. In short, you can start keeping track of who might have been on campus, what they were doing, and how to get in touch with them.

This can facilitate contact tracing efforts campus-wide and allow you to contact that person easily at a later time should, for example, you need to let them know how they came into contact with the virus during their visit.

How it works using FAMIS 360

Checking someone in

Using your “Visitor” module, you will see anyone who is scheduled to come in. This module can be set up so if you actually have a visitor desk and they are coming into a specific check-in point, someone can check them in.

Add a new visit

Alternatively, you can add a visit. This can be used both at a desk or across campus. If you give everybody access to be able to add their own visitors, all they will need to do is enter the system and enter their name, the building, the date and time of their visit, and who that person is visiting.

You can also enter the company that they are associated with, their email address, any visitor’s comments, or the type of visitor they are. Under type of visitor, you can get very detailed. All of this is configurable.

You can immediately check that person into the system and know when they have checked in, who they are meeting with, and where they are going. Of course, it is not a foolproof system – people can walk around campus or the building and that can be harder to trace, but at least if you know who they are visiting you can get a better idea of where they might have been that day.

Checking visitors out

When they are ready to leave, you can find your visitor’s name and check them out of the system as well.


Final Thoughts

In this blog, you have learned a number of ways the FAMIS 360 platform can help you manage your return to campus, including:

  • How you can use space management features like user-defined fields to set up additional tracking information for your spaces
  • How to keep your team healthy by doing separate crew and reassigning work orders to your COVID crews
  • How to conduct detailed inspections to keep your peace of mind and separate your COVID cleaning from standard cleaning efforts
  • How to track costs over time
  • How to manage visitors and minimize risk to your campus
  • The many ways that FAMIS 360 can help you track that FEMA cost, so that you get your reimbursements

If you would like hands-on training or a walkthrough guiding you how to use these or any other FAMIS 360 features, contact us today.

Watch our on-demand webinar, "Preparing a Thoughtful Return to Campus," to learn more about using FAMIS 360 to create a safe learning environment on your campus.