So Much Depends On a Baby Duck: FM and the User Experience

Swiping through my Facebook feed, I came across a friend's post about heartless politicians not caring about baby ducks. Two simple ramps had been installed at the Capitol Reflecting Pool by the Architect of the Capitol to make it easier for the ducklings to get past the pool's border. However, it seems at least one politician felt it was an example of waste, and the Twitterverse was not pleased

I'll leave the political judgement up to you, but the story reminded me of a similar situation Joan Woodard, president and CEO of Simons & Woodard, faced at her property, which is on a popular migration route. Her tenants became so distressed thinking that the baby ducks and geese were having a hard time navigating the man-made lakes around her campus that she was having folks in suits wading out in attempt to help. Not an ideal situation — for the tenant or the ducks! Wanting to find a way to alleviate her tenants' distress, her team came up with simple ramps to provide easy access.

Whether or not the ramps are truly necessary to the birds is beside the point, and a judgement I will leave to the ornithologists among you. What matters is that both facility management teams noticed that the people they serve were upset about something going on at the property and undertook a simple, low-cost solution to resolve their concerns. The ramps are simple, cheap, and don't create an obstruction for other users. Is providing safe passage for waterfowl part of the business function of the facilities management department? Probably not, unless you work at a zoo. But creating a productive and welcoming environment for employees is. Think about the psychological impact of those duck ramps. They say, we care about nature, about safety, about your mental health. They say we, the facilities management team, pay attention to the little details. They say, we hear you when you have a concern, and we will find a solution to your problem. 

Facility occupants complain about all sorts of crazy things. They worry about the most absurd things, things which facility managers really don't have time for given the other million more important issues they're solving on a daily basis. But ignoring, belittling, or discounting those concerns will only make them fester into something more problematic. Facility management is more and more just as much about the user experience as it is about bricks and mortar.  Check out Joan's story, and that of other FMs, for ideas on how to tackle occupant complaints, I mean, concerns, in creative ways that will in the end make everyone's day a little bit easier. You can find the story here:

And tell me your own story about an occupant concern and how you resolved it. Even if you didn't resolve it and just want to vent a little, I'm here to listen. ;) You can post your story in the comments below, or send it to me directly at The extra juicy ones might be shared anonymously, with permission, in our FM Complaints hall of fame.

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