SHAPE in Western News

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Building Services review looks to build on success

By Paul Mayne

Western’s Building Services team is undertaking a little spring cleaning of its own this year in order to highlight its strengths and improve in areas needing a little extra elbow grease.

Over the next year, Western will conduct a review of its building caretaking operations, taking into account both internal opinions and external best practices, said Carmen Bertone, Executive Director (Facilities Operations & Building Services). The review,Working Together to Shape Our Future, was announced to staff last week.

Campus boasts approximately 250 custodial workers, with more than 2,000 combined years of experience.

“It’s not broken. But there are always ways to do things better,” Bertone said. “Our staff does a great job and truly cares about the Western community. They have a great level of expertise. We just want to build on that to ensure we are in a great position for the foreseeable future.”

While there was a quality inspection review conducted about six years ago, this latest review will put the magnifying glass to the entire operation. The consultant is expected to be named later this summer and will begin its full-year cycle review beginning this fall.

“We’re looking at everything from the products we use, to how we bring on new employees, to orientation and training, to health and wellness, to processes, to equipment, to costs, to organizational structure, to management structure, to staffing levels, to the level of service in each building – truly the entire organization,” Bertone said. “All of us take a lot of pride in our jobs, we think we do a great job. But it’s nice to get that external perspective to see where we can do better.”

The review uses the acronym SHAPE to convey its objectives moving forward – strengthen our knowledge; focus on the health and wellness; advance operational sustainability; support our pride of ownership; and advance our culture of excellence.

“We’re just looking to continuously improve our operations. We want to make sure we’re providing the absolute best service we can to our customers,” Bertone said. “We do not want there to be the misconception that we’re looking to outsource. It’s not what we’re doing.”

Bertone said monthly and bi-monthly meetings will continue with staff to share updates. A SHAPE website has also been created and employees can share concerns or comments through email.

Western will also get “a fresh set of eyes” through hiring a consultant with expertise in caretaking and higher education to give the ‘white-glove treatment’ and see how things are being done in comparison to best practices at other universities.

“They (caretakers) have expressed some concerns; we know we have some issues we can improve on. So, we listen to them and also get that external view to learn from other higher education institutions,” he said.

He added the motivation for the review is about “investing in our people” and advancing the university’s commitment to delivering the best client service to each building on campus.

“It’s a win-win for everybody,” Bertone said.