Snowstorms are an expected part of winter life throughout the northern United States, but they pose unique challenges for commercial office buildings and their property managers.
Snowstorm Nemo is expected to shut down roads and create icy conditions in large parts of the northeast. The Boston Globe projects that two feet of snow will fall on central Massachusetts during Friday and Saturday. Clogged parking areas, snow laden rooftops and tenant confusion will create problems deeper than the snow accumulation for building managers who are unprepared. Building managers should communicate with their tenants about building policies and procedures (using building operations software can help with efficiency), contact their snow removal vendor, and brief their property teams on the timing of the storm and likely changes to their building management activities- all well in advance of the storm.
Communicate Early and Often
Nothing is more important than clear and consistent communication both prior to and during a large snow storm. Building managers need to contact their tenants in advance to remind them of changed procedures and policies when a storm hits, such as removal of parked cars, limited access to the building or lot, changed building closure times, and special policies and procedures during an outage. Simply checking that you have the correct telephone and email addresses for your principal tenant contacts is a key first step in storm preparedness. Leveraging a powerful emergency and broadcast messaging system can be the difference between smooth operations and mass confusion. Clear communication is essential to handling emergency situations and maintaining control during difficult winter conditions.
Dealing with the Snow
Snow removal is a critical concern for building managers that do not employ their own snow removal teams. Large amounts of snow can shut down roads and make it difficult for people to get to work. Customers will compete for snow removal, so a call out to your snow removal vendor to schedule the plowing and roof top removal may be the difference between getting service when you need it and getting it when it’s too late. Make sure that you have cleared the parking lot and side streets of all vehicles well in advance of the storm. Communicate to your tenants that they must remove their vehicles to accommodate snow removal. With foresight, even a major blizzard can be handled easily, allowing tenants to focus on their business rather than your failure to prepare. Many people decide to to work remotely. Contact your tenants so that you understand if they will be open for business or may be working with a reduced staff.
One issue that many people forget about with snow is the creation of ice dams and icicles. Variations in temperature could cause snow on roofs and overhands to melt and refreeze, creating large blocks of ice that pose a danger to the building and its visitors. These situations need to be handled quickly as overhangs must be kept clear of heavy ice that could fall on people below when they break away from the building.
Leveraging Technology to Prepare for Storms
Building Engines provides building managers with a web-based and mobile platform to help them manage their key management activities in a crisis. Information and assignments can be viewed remotely, allowing maintenance workers to quickly move from one task to another. By creating event checklists, tracking work assignments, and escalating important messages and procedures, managers can avoid problems and preserve uninterrupted operation when the weather turns.