By design, a campus must be well-established and have an integrated environment inherent that complements an organisation’s needs and support its staff. Considering that large-scale campuses warrant an array of divergent skillsets for efficient management can be a significant challenge, while also providing a great opportunity for FM teams to enhance its competency. Most often, a campus is a microcosm with various natural elements — large open spaces, abundant greenery, water bodies, and flora and fauna — interspersed with well-designed buildings, roads and services, resulting in a positive impact on productivity and sustainability. However it also poses challenges for operational management such as facilities, safety, security, etc.
A campus must provide ‘a home away from home’ for employees. The layout must enable interconnectivity of amenities to facilitate smooth movement of the people. Plus, good landscaping adds as much beauty of the place as a soothing impact. Campuses are expected to have adequate space for full-fledged development of amenities such as food courts, recreational centres, playgrounds, gymnasiums, launderettes, clubs, swimming pool, concierge services, crèche as well as facilities such as wellness, residential and medical. Therefore, they must be designed to facilitate the use of walkways, bicycles and electrically operated vehicles. Food services must meet the requirements of a large and diverse population, where nutrition as well as interaction are prioritised. It is proven that employee productivity is higher in campuses, when compared to typical office buildings, owing to the services offered in a safe environment.
Campuses must have expansive, sustainable and well-maintained horticulture that keeps the carbon footprint to a minimum. Water recycling plants, organic waste converters, composite pits and other green initiatives must be established by design itself. Biodiversity is paramount, so the drive to support flora and fauna must be encouraged by considering theme-based gardens, forestry, birdbaths, feeding shelters or even an aviary. The design should focus on harnessing natural elements of weather control, and HVAC should be based on technologies that enable water and energy conservation. In fact, at least 75% of water must be recycled and reused. Making the campus largely automobile-free is another option. It is important to inculcate eco-conscious behaviour by all campus users, who should be encouraged to participate in tree plantation, bio-diversity promotion and water conservation through coordinated volunteering activities.
Facilities and amenities in a campus should be best in class. Construction of buildings and infrastructure must strictly adhere to the sustainability needs of not just today but also for the future. A well-defined and integrated FM contract is the backbone to ensure high quality of maintenance and services. As these services are largely dependent on third party providers, it is essential to ensure that the operational staff and management team deployed must be trained to understand and imbibe the campus management policies and service levels.
This is a major area of concern and there is a need to establish rules and guidance to inculcate a safe way of life for those operating in the campus. Best practices in road, office and individual safety should become part of the campus culture. From an operational viewpoint, mandatory safety standards and policies should be followed strictly and monitoring and review of lead indicators must be conducted periodically.
Safety must extended to humans as well as the fauna. Fire safety is one of the biggest callouts in large campuses. This requires creation of close working groups for cohesive working, regular drills and inspections. Alarm systems should be integrated centrally as well. Additionally, compliances for the fire licence must be monitored constantly. Firefighting capabilities in addition to the standard fitments required as per NBC must be in place. Another aspect peculiar to campuses is safety from insects, snakes and other pests that may be cohabiting the space. Users must be informed and guided to remain within the permitted areas. Safety briefings must be included as mandatory requirement for any new joinee. Plus, frequent awareness campaigns regarding policies and mandates must be regularly scheduled.
It is imperative to proper perimeter controls. Ideally, the security framework should be based on a tiered approach — with a robust perimeter protection and defined access control for people, vehicles and material within the campus. A well-documented security policy supported with clearly defined standard operating procedures and task lists for each aspect of security operations is a must. Similarly, standardised documents must be prepared for handling a variety of emergency situations. These must not remain as mere documents and must be put to test through frequent mock drills or desktop simulations.
Campus boundaries must be clearly earmarked with permanent civil structure to ensure there are no unchecked access points. It is best to have either a perimeter wall as well as electric fencing, alarms, lights, CCTVs, patrolling, etc. Ideally, a campus must also keep track of staff, employees, vendors, material, visitors, etc, and use state-of-the-art digital technologies to authenticate and validate incomings and outgoings. Managing external public during a strike/public unrest can result in more challenges for a campus. Therefore, the management team must liaison with the police, fire department, municipality and local authorities, and co-opt with them in practice drills.
A security function must be integrated into various employee engagement and business support activities to develop more acceptability and wilful support. Strong security agency contract management, tech-integrations with response alert systems and a strong and detailed division of tasks within the security team makes for a robust physical security solution.
All applicable laws and regulations, as stipulated by administrative and law-enforcement agencies must be complied with. All such requirements must be established and the campus responsibilities be fulfilled. The establishment and maintenance of such directives and controls must not be compromised under any circumstances.
Owning and operating a large campus is cost intensive. Campus development requires large capex investments, since its operation and maintenance expenses are likely to increase year on year., due to influencing factors such as increase in the scope of activities, ageing equipment, market escalations, etc. Establishing a fine balance between costs and value can be a daunting task for FM teams. Exercising prudence when designing and establishing facilities and services helps manage operational costs in the long run. For optimal O&M costs, an integrated FM model works well as does having a calendarised plan that encompasses all activities that require to be operated and maintained. Continual focus on innovative practices and infusion of technology driven solutions helps in optimally managing costs associated with efficient operation.
New tools and equipment that reduce TAT and increase accessibility of required services play a key role in efficient campus management. Automation and virtual connect reduce the distance between people, thereby becoming efficient systems. Various smart solutions are available today to manage operational aspects, which result in enhanced productivity as they predict and therefore reduce service deficiencies and help manage costs better.
Depending on the size, the variety of operational activities and the challenges that need to be addressed, managing a campus calls for a different scale of professional, technical and behavioural competence. High level of team work is required to ensure continuous operational readiness for routine operations as well as during emergencies. Manging a campus provides an excellent learning opportunity for support service professionals in areas such as office support, people support, infrastructure and facilities (and its procurement), project management, realty laws and governance, environmental compliances, sustainability and carbon footprint controls, power demand and management, transport management, hospitality and food services, water management, etc.
Ideal campus managers are forward-thinking and attuned to latest trends and best practices in various operational aspects. They need to think on their feet and react to operational changes and business demands, while provide best solutions to any complex business requirement. The manager needs to be daring and willing to take calculated risks, when necessary.