How Many Maintenance Staff or Custodians or Grounds Personnel Should I Have Per Square Foot?

3 minutes

Q: How many maintenance staff, custodians or grounds personnel should I have per square foot? 

This is one of the most common questions I have heard over the years. We are opening this discussion for thoughts, ideas, pros and cons. 

A: Our college just went through institutional optimization. 
Institutional optimization is motivated by a desire to raise the college’s ability to provide distinguished educational programs and to provide support to all the students it serves. The process is therefore comprehensive of the full array of activities at the college, considering every area that has an identified commitment of human, financial, and material resources to identify strengths and limitations to achieving program goals. Through a shared commitment to shape our college for the future, we will adopt a set of actions that position the college to thrive in the 21st century." 
You can google it. We spent many many hours going through every building and classroom on campus to make sure we had enough staff/personnel to take care of the needs of our small college. It shows strengths, weaknesses, what areas need better staffed, etc. 
The process has been worth it!

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A: Questions I often pose back to this question are: 

"What levels of cleanliness, safety and functionality do you intend to provide?" is my first response. We showcased some of the questions and data to consider from a Dude University round-table that asked key questions around this topic while providing some of the data from our surveys and sources such as APPA. 

APPA is one of the most recognized sources and often refer to the "Four Core" areas of operations. APPA provides some examples under the four major categories and often provide templates in addition to research they have conducted. They typically will break down level of service into a scale of "Showpiece" vs. "Crisis Response". 

  • "How old is your equipment?" New does not always equal easy; old does always not equal outdated. They each have their pros and cons. 
  • "How complex is each property?" 
  • "What is the daily routine vs. how often are daily routines interrupted?" 
  • "What are the varieties of the same type of system are between sites? Same type of equipment, but different manufacturers each with different requirements per site?" 
  • "What skillsets are needed?" 
  • "What shifts can employees work?" 

I have seen studies that give numbers such as 20,000 sq. ft. for a custodian being the ideal vs. 32,000 being a reality. Studies of 90,000 for MEP, but 110,000 being a reality for some. As Toni mentioned: know your needs and know your properties as this will drive the answer that is applicable for you. 

A: You beat me to the punch - was just typing up how we utilize APPA metrics to provide a baseline to the decision-makers and then let them pick what level of awesome they want us to operate at.