January 29, 2015
Our Favorite TV Facilities
If you are like me, you grew up on a steady diet of some of the greatest television series in history and, let's face it, some of the worst. Shows like M.A.S.H. and Taxi are still in syndication today (for all you young whipper-snappers out there), while recent comedies like Parks and Recreation and The Office have made their mark in the entertainment realm as well. But what do television series, and shows like these, in particular, have to do with facility management?
Most professions have at least one television series or movie that features a main character that embodies a particular job. Some, like doctors, have many series and movies that introduce the world to their chosen career path. Think of shows like ER, Grey"s Anatomy, Scrubs, and Private Practice, to name but a few. Other jobs, such as those in the janitorial realm, have far fewer. Off the top of my head I can think of two: The Toxic Avenger and the custodian in The Breakfast Club (neither of which highlighted the career choice in a positive light!).
When it comes to facility managers, there are a few that spring to mind. Schneider from One Day at a Time (played by Pat Harrington Jr.), is probably the most famous. Another popular television facility manager from the same period is Bookman from Good Times. While not the main focal point of their respective shows, both made frequent appearances and helped endear (for better or worse) and spotlight the role of a facility manager in a residential role. Both Schneider and Bookman managed the facilities of a condominium complex and dealt with everyday maintenance issues as well as a plethora of plumbing, boiler, and air-conditioning nightmares, often resulting in some sort of comedic scenario.
More recently, the role of facility manager on TV has been relegated to an "unseen" role. On the hit show The Office (both the original English and the American version), we are led to believe that our favorite paper supply company runs, for the most part, autonomously, at least from a maintenance perspective. However, you can be certain that a reliability manager is there, lurking in the background, making sure all of that printing equipment is up to par and being maintained. Likewise, every employee relies on working computers, a robust phone system, and even an HVAC system. On occasion, we get to view the actual warehouse, which, despite its basketball-playing slacker employees, is always in perfect order. There must be a great facility manager behind the scenes picking up the slack!
Of course, the real unsung hero of "unseen" television facility professionals has to be the team that is responsible for all of the hospital shows, such as the aforementioned ER, Scrubs, and Grey"s Anatomy. Not only do they have to handle maintenance on a large-scale facility that serves the public, but they must also stay on top of OSHA standards and health regulations and have excellent documentation for liability purposes.
To boot, the machinery and assets they must manage are complex, everything from heart monitors and MRI machines to leaky roofs and emergency generators. If you work in this industry, then you must truly appreciate the effort required to keep these pristine hospitals in tip-top shape!