Every management role comes with its own unique set of challenges and frustrations, which can sometimes be distressing enough to deprive even the best manager of a good night’s sleep. Property management is no exception to this.
With the many variables that can present themselves on a given property, constant diligence is required to ensure that a building’s potential is maximised, while being compliant with local laws surrounding its operation and maintenance.
The New Zealand Health and Safety at Work Act that was enacted in 2015 is an example of the shift in thinking surrounding this issue. Many similar laws are either being constructed or have been passed in developed countries. Breaches of workplace safety are also being fined at exorbitant rates, with £72.6 million in fines accrued in Great Britain through 2017/18.
The majority of these laws are focused around the shift of thinking from Health and Safety reporting to active prevention of unsafe activities, while also shifting the responsibility of workers’ safety onto property owners and managers.
For property managers, the potential for a workplace fatality is the stuff of nightmares. When you have responsibility for ensuring that anyone who comes to work on the properties you manage receives a proper induction onto the site, it’s surely enough to make even the most conscientious property manager lose sleep.
It’s vital then that property managers keep three things top of mind whenever they are considering the various aspects of managing the buildings in their portfolios.
Property managers have a duty of care towards those involved with or affected by work in their buildings, which means ensuring that every contractor is informed of the health and safety practices for that site. As the New Zealand HSWA 2015 states, this means proper and full induction procedures must be completed to avoid personal liability.
Of course, if you manage large sites with dozens or even hundreds of workers, ensuring compliance is not necessarily a simple or quick activity – and induction procedures, if not efficiently managed, can create a significant time burden, which can in turn be costly.
Add to this the reality that property managers must be able to predict future needs for compliance and accommodate multiple, frequent changes in personnel, and the challenges of ensuring compliance become all the more complex.
As a result, the question that may run through your mind in the middle the night is, how do I manage all this information without creating an excessive financial burden?
Time equals money, so property managers need to know they are getting value from their OPEX or development costs, not only when considering their impact on health and safety procedures for workers in their care, but also for predicting future costs.
Ideally, an efficient system that ensures you can easily reconcile invoices from workers with any work they complete on-site will provide the visibility you need.
Without such a system, you may find yourself tossing and turning at night, wondering if you can objectively validate these costs or if you are basing everything on blind trust. The question of whether you can acquire reliable cost data to better predict future costs will no doubt circle around in your head at those times.
While property managers may be in the business of overseeing bricks and mortar buildings, it’s the flesh and blood people inside them that matter the most.
Properties can be rebuilt, but people are irreplaceable, and this is what ultimately lies at the heart of property management.
You should regularly check your awareness of attitudes towards safety and compliance amongst your people, and if you don’t know what those attitudes are, find out. Ask yourself, do I know if my contractors have been on site for the lengths of time they say they have? Were they inducted correctly? And at the end of their shifts, are they accurate in their timesheets and invoices?
Consider too how you can lead the way in all these things. As it’s your responsibility to keep everyone on your properties safe and compliant, setting the example by paying close attention to these matters is of paramount importance to property managers.
It may be a cliché to say it, but “at the end of the day” truly applies here, because if you can’t confidently provide answers to how you are addressing these three facets of property management, at the end of the day, you may be in for a sleepless night.
What you can be sure of however, is that Forsite’s app-based contractor management solution can address all of these ambiguities that exist in a property manager’s role by providing detailed data to refer to when carrying out your responsibilities and making future decisions.