MAR FM extends portfolio in the Data Centre industry

We are excited to have secured a new commercial cleaning contract with another client in the data storage industry.

The contract covers two sites, in the heart of London, featuring a combination of modern data halls and offices and MAR will be ensuring a consistently high level of hygiene and a regular cleaning programme, with optimised service delivery.

Locations such as these require special measures, specific knowledge and extremely high standards and therefore benefit from service providers, such as MAR FM, who have a previously established understanding of the unique environment and its challenges.

The smooth transition, that began in late February, prompted our client to say:

“Your team has done a great job on both sites, thank you to all for taking the time to ensure a smooth start to the process.”

– Facilities Manager

We are delighted to announce our success in securing a new contract with renowned managing agent, Workman FM.

MAR has secured the mechanical and electrical maintenance contract for all equipment across the 6 floors of the premises.

Based in central Southampton, the facility comprises modern commercial offices and MAR has been tasked with both the maintenance of existing infrastructure, along with ensuring the longevity of all assets on site.

The mobilisation of this contract is due to begin in the coming weeks and will be overseen by one of MAR’s experienced operational managers.

More information on MAR’s M&E services can be found here

MAR FM support a climb for a good cause

MAR FM and our subsidiary company Sovereign FM, are always on the look out for opportunities to support good causes and get involved with local community events, when and wherever possible.

So, when Sovereign were approached by Adrian, the associate of one of their clients, who was planning to climb to the base camp of Mount Everest to raise money for Dementia Support, they were more than happy to come on board as a sponsor.

Following a successful completion of this incredible challenge, we caught up with Adrian to find out more about his motivation to undertake this unusual experience, for a charity of great personal significance to him.

Q&A

What made you decide to take on this particular challenge?

I have always been in awe of Everest, ever since I was a young lad. Having been given the green light from my wife to make the 2 and a half week trip, I made arrangements with my company, transferring some unused leave that Covid-19 had prevented me from taking the previous year. Once these arrangements were made, the next step was to establish the best time of year to make the trip and book the dates.

Do you have any experience in completing these kinds of challenges, or was this your first one?

No specific experience, however, I did do quite a lot of walking and cycling training in the months leading up to the event, in the hope it would be sufficient for the trip.

What did you do to prepare for this event?

I trained most weekends and a lot of weekday evenings in the 3 months prior to the trip, to try and get some good miles in my legs. This also included frequent walks across the south downs and a couple of trips to the Brecon Beacons in South Wales.

What was the most memorable event/incident of your trip?

The whole experience was memorable, but the capital, Kathmandu, was truly an eye opener. I’ve never seen a city like it before. They experienced a serious earthquake in 2015, resulting in a large number of the buildings still being held up by wooden supports. Most people don’t have access to the luxuries that we enjoy in everyday life here in the UK, but despite this, the people were warm and welcoming.

There was also the 30 minute flight to Lukla airport in the mountains, which was equal parts amazing and horrifying, due to a landing runway no longer than a football pitch! Search for ‘landings at Lukla airport for a taste of this experience.

Lastly, I would have to say the views which become more beautiful the higher we climbed, culminating in the ultimate glacial vista, when we reached the base camp.

It is a challenging trip, what was the most difficult part?

I would have to say the altitude. It was particularly tough over 13-14000ft and made walking for 6-7 hours a day very difficult. By the time we reached the base camp (17,598 ft), I think our legs were on autopilot! The altitude also affected our sleep, leading to increased sleep deprivation the further we climbed – this made the trek a little bit more difficult with each passing day.

Why did you select Dementia Support to raise money for? 

It’s a cause very close to my heart, having lost both my mum and mother in law to this cruel illness in the last few years. I felt I needed to do something for the amazing people that work in these dementia care homes.

How does it feel to have achieved this challenge?

It feels amazing, reaching the base camp felt like winning the world cup for me, knowing how hard I had worked to get there, to say I was buzzing for days afterwards is an understatement. I still can’t stop thinking about the trip and the people we met and trekked with even now, a few months later.

What things should someone consider before taking on this challenge?

You don’t need to be an athlete, but definitely train to be in the best shape you can be. As long as you are able to walk for 5 or 6 hours a day you should be okay and practicing uphill walking is a great advantage as your legs take a pounding.

It gets extremely cold at night, even inside, so you’ll need a good sleeping bag that will keep you warm, even at -20.

Be ready to rough it in the Tea houses, as these are very basic – I think we went around 6 days without a shower and I won’t even mention the toilets…

Are you planning on taking part in any other challenges in the future?

I would definitely consider it, I’ve not decided what or when that could be and I’ll have to clear it with the wife first!

Adrian was successful in raising £2600 for Dementia support, way in excess of his original target of £1000. We are pleased to have had the opportunity to contribute towards his incredible journey and to support a wonderful cause at the same time.

View Adrian’s just giving page here.

A guide to reducing the risk of criminal activity at your facility.

Not only does burglary have a direct cost implication for businesses through the loss of assets, it can also incur indirect costs, such as building repairs, insurance costs, temporary closure and loss of work hours. Government data shows that over 100,000 burglaries take place against businesses in the UK each year. Additionally, as many as 58% of crime cases against companies were unresolved, with no suspect being identified.

Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to minimise the likelihood of a break-in taking place. We’ve outlined a reliable step-by-step strategy to help reduce the risk…

Clean and secure

One of the first steps to consider, when optimising security, is to create a clean and tidy environment. A site in disrepair is more likely to attract those looking for somewhere to spend time after dark. This may give the impression that the facility is poorly maintained and encourage opportunistic criminals to assess the building for vulnerabilities. Clutter and overgrown shrubs can also provide cover for those wishing to remain unseen.

Task to consider should include:

It’s important to not only tackle these issues once, but to invest time and effort into ensuring the tidiness of your facility is maintained. If this is not possible to achieve with in-house labour, consider a professional grounds maintenance service to keep up with the upkeep.

Forewarned is forearmed

Once your site is clean and tidy, the next step, is to complete a thorough inspection of the property, looking for any vulnerabilities that could be exploited to gain access to the facility. This walk through should review the entire property, carefully considering any opportunities to improve the security of the facility. While some security aspects are easy to assess, such as windows and doors that are not properly re-enforced, there are also less obvious issues to consider. Wheelie bins, for example, are commonly used to reach the upper levels or roofs of buildings, in an attempt to reach weaker entry points and therefore should be secured outside of office hours.

Task to consider should include:

Not sure what to look for? Hire a specialist to help identify and produce a report of opportunities, to improve security throughout your premises.

Lock up the lure

Think carefully about the placement of high value items. Burglars in search of a target will take into account the ‘risk vs reward’ factor of a premises. If desirable items are on show, it’s likely to result in the site being more tempting to opportunistic thieves. Review the location of all assets, lock boxes, safes and key storage areas, ensuring they are obscured from view as much as possible. This step is especially important in retail locations, where merchandise is displayed in windows. Some retail establishments have chosen to replace window displays with screens or decals that advertise their stock, without putting physical stock at risk. Another option is to move high value product to a secure stock room at night, minimising the loss if someone does gain access to the property. Stock rooms should be free of windows and have one well secured entry and exit point – consider installing CCTV above this door to further improve security.

Task to consider should include:

Bring security into the 21st century

Arguably the best deterrent against would-be criminals is to harness the power of technology. The presence of CCTV cameras, movement detection sensors and anti-theft devices is usually sufficient to make the risk higher than the potential reward to anyone scoping out the facility. Implementing a reliable monitoring system also significantly improves the response time in the event of a break-in taking place, allowing for instant, remote viewing of cameras, 24-hour recording, logs of site access times and avoiding unnecessary callouts. Ideally, surveillance systems should record in the highest quality possible, save footage to a secure cloud-based system (to prevent data loss if equipment is damaged), run 24/7 and save historic footage for a minimum of one week. Anti-theft devices such as smoke generators, may also be appropriate, depending on the facility. These create a thick smoke screen on forced entry and are typically designed not to damage stock or equipment.

Task to consider should include:

With such a wide variety of monitoring options available, it may be helpful to seek recommendations from an expert security company, to safely select and install surveillance systems. Professional security providers, like MAR, can also provide access to the benefit of control room services. Operated by highly trained personnel, the control room is equipped with the latest integrated digital technology, providing 24/7 monitoring and a central point for the appropriate dealing with emergency callouts.

Shining a light on business plight

Similar, to monitoring systems, carefully designed lighting has the power to dissuade those with ill-intent. Building and flood-lighting reduce the opportunity for anyone to conceal themselves within shadowy areas and expose them to the potential gaze of passers-by. Modern LED lights offer an affordable and sustainable choice and, when installed in collaboration with motion sensors, can be set to come on only when movement is detected within the facility. They also have the added benefit of improving the clarity of captured camera footage.

Task to consider should include:

The key to safety

Key holding is a seemingly basic, but often overlooked aspect of facility security. Businesses utilise different methods to provide legitimate access to their employees, whether its keys, cards, codes or a combination of these. The procedures around key holding should be robust and regularly reviewed, to ensure that the right colleagues have access to appropriate areas at the approved times. It’s also important to implement a strong training plan for any colleagues with significant access privileges, especially those responsible for locking and unlocking the building and any additional staff, such as cleaners, who may frequent the site after working hours.

Task to consider should include:

Keeping up appearances

Maintaining a consistent presence on site is a sure way to put-off potential thieves and unwelcome guests. This is especially important during holiday periods, when there is little or no staff frequenting the premises. If possible, best practice is to ensure someone is visiting the property regularly, in an unpredictable pattern.

During a visit, the premises should be checked for signs of disturbance, and confirmed as secure. However, this strategy is not entirely straightforward – while this task can be performed by a member of staff, it is not generally advisable. Colleagues need proper and thorough training before performing any security tasks, as well as allowances to ensure a proper work-life balance if they’re visiting outside of working hours. If you are going to use internal staff members, they should be dedicated and fully trained for the security role, with the equipment and knowledge to respond correctly in an emergency situation. This same consideration should be given to any key holders who could conceivably answer an alarm code. Our article ‘responding in the right way explores this in more detail.

Task to consider should include:

Businesses that wish to improve either their key holding process or increase their presence on site, and do not have their own dedicated security officers, should consider outsourcing services to a professional security company. This ensures that key holding processes are methodical and reliable and response to site is always carried out by a professional security officer, ensuring the safest possible outcome.

MAR Facilities Management offer a wide range of security and grounds maintenance services for medium to large businesses, including remote monitoring, control room, manned guarding, mobile patrolling and key holding. Contact our team to find out more.

Each year, MAR select a charitable cause to support for the festive season and beyond…

This year has been hard on us all, with soaring increases to the cost of living and for many, Christmas can impose particularly difficult financial pressures. Gingerbread is a fantastically supportive organisation, carrying out a fundamentally important role in offering advice, support and community to single parents and their families.

We met with Gingerbread’s lovely team last week, to present our contribution to their Christmas appeal, gain further insight into the valuable work they do, and to discuss future partnership opportunities.

Commenting on the donation, MAR’s Sales Director Sean Spencer said:

“Hearing first-hand about the great work that the people at Gingerbread do was both heart-warming and inspiring, and we’re delighted to have been able to make this donation to such a worthwhile cause” 

You too can support and donate to the Gingerbread Christmas Appeal using the link below and this year, any gift you give will be doubled at no extra cost to you.

Technology provides us with a multitude of monitoring tools to detect and deter potential risks, but who should attend when the alarm sounds?

As a business owner, it’s important to ensure that your premises are adequately protected from threats such as fires, floods and burglary. The shift towards hybrid and remote working has only increased this need, with a significant number of commercial buildings now being lightly manned or even left vacant. This increases their vulnerability to opportunistic criminals. Modern-day technology provides us with a multitude of smart monitoring tools and surveillance capabilities, to detect and deter these potential risks, but who should attend when the building alarm sounds?

It is still common practice, in the UK, for companies to assign members of their team the duty of alarm response, especially if they are in roles of responsibility or live in close proximity to the business location. While this may seem like an innocuous and cost-effective method, the potential risks to both business and employee are, all too often, overlooked.

Risk to the employee

Allowing a member of your team to respond presents several Health and Safety concerns. Alarm activations in the late evening or during the night could result in an employee heading out after a drink or while sleep deprived, with compromised senses and slowed response time. This not only makes the journey to work more hazardous (especially if driving is necessary) but also increases the danger when the employee arrives at the premises. It’s worth considering whether your team are equipped with skills to diffuse confrontation, should they face intruders, as well as their ability to get to safety, should they enter the building to discover a fire. Employers have a responsibility to safeguard their colleagues and failing to do so, by exposing them to unnecessary risk, could land a business in legal ‘hot-water’ in the event of a serious incident. Aside from the risk, asking an employee to take on this responsibility can erode their work-life balance, increase stress levels and leave them fatigued and unproductive the next day.

Risk to the business

While in the majority of cases, alarms being triggered are the result of things such as user error, falling items or improper system maintenance – all of which pose no significant risk to the business – serious and criminal incidents do happen, and when they do, time is of the essence. Slow response or failure to respond by designated colleagues can provide thieves the time they need to get away with equipment, or for a fire to cause irreparable damage to a building.

Alternatively, responders taking the wrong course of action could escalate a situation, for example, attempting to intervene with intruders seen leaving the building.

Lone workers

In the case of lone workers or small teams, a prompt and coordinated response is essential. Critical alarms, where a colleague has become trapped, attacked or is subject to a medical emergency, if not dealt with correctly and in time, could result in life-changing injuries, serious accidents and even death, especially in the case of lone workers. In these cases, a business can face serious criminal charges for failing to meet its duty of care, even facing prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act of 2007.

What’s the alternative?

Professional key holding and alarm response companies, like MAR FM, offer a safer, more reliable alternative to in-house solutions. In the event of alarm activation, these service providers immediately dispatch security operatives to the site. Equipped with the knowledge to effectively determine the cause of alarm codes, and professionally trained to handle serious emergency and criminal situations, these teams will remain on-site until the incident is resolved. Following the event, the business will be provided with an in-depth report, detailing activated zones and an assessment of the building.

By engaging with a professional security business such as MAR FM, clients can rest easy, knowing their premises and colleagues are in safe hands.

You can find out more about MAR’s security services here.