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Green Building Blog

Battling ANTs of COVID-19, Four Tips for Powering Through Tough Times

Tue, Apr 14, 2020 @ 05:28 / by Jim Newman

Spring is supposed to be a time of growth, renewal and hope. Many cultures and religions celebrate sacred holidays, most of which take place communally, with family and friends.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year many of us are observing these special occasions alone or with family and friends but only virtually.

While we are celebrating with social distancing, we can pause to give thanks for what we have, and offer immense gratitude to the doctors, nurses, first responders, grocery store workers, maintenance and sanitation workers and all those other front-line workers who are giving so much of themselves to help others.

Two weeks ago I shared on our social media pages (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn), an article by one of my favorite local speakers and writers, Josh Linkner. He wrote about ANTs. Not the kind that are the bane of any facility manager or building owner, but Automatic Negative Thoughts as described by psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen.

Double exposure of success businessman using digital tablet with london building and social media diagram

I thought it would be helpful to relate some of his points directly to what our clients and other followers may be facing right now - even when you have to manage in an all-remote environment. You may be running into more "ANTs" than usual as you work to keep operations going, continue to provide the required building services for essential businesses (see our recent blog on "Coronavirus and Building Wellness – What You Need to Do NOW"), keep workers healthy, and still look to – and plan for – the future of where business may be when we can move on in what will certainly be a new normal. 

When you encounter an ANT, says Dr. Amen, you’ll need to recognize it, confront it, and flip it to something more productive. Here are some examples of how that might look to a building owner or facility manager:

  • “Always” thinking: This is when you find yourself gravitating to words such as: “always, never, no one, everyone, every time, everything.” When you hear those words in your head, start to change the thinking to “sometimes,” or “some people,” or “some things.” This leaves room to find the positive.

    For example, instead of “Every time things go wrong,” think or say, “Sometimes things go wrong, but where did they go right?” and have that conversation end positively. Instead of thinking “can’t,” try instead to say “can.” So rather than “We can’t do this,” Think “How can we make that happen?”

  • Blame: During these times, we can be quick to blame others or external circumstances for our own problems. Remember there are very few emergencies if you are prepared. It’s all about “resilience’, both for yourself and your property.

    Take this opportunity to examine where you can improve “preparedness.” Have you updated your building plan? What might you improve with your operations and maintenance (O & M)? What resources do you need to be more prepared? Try to find allies rather than creating enemies. After all, you’re all working toward the same goal: having a safe, clean, energy efficient building.

  • Focusing on the negative: If you personally haven’t experienced this, you probably know someone who has. This is when someone only sees the bad in a situation.

    Every situation can have something positive come from it. It may only be “What can we do to better the situation?” If you find yourself constantly re-acting to problems, think about what you can learn. Studies show that incorporating preventive, and even predictive, maintenance practices can save thousands of dollars a year.

  • Fortune telling: Maybe it’s a form of trying to take control of a situation that seems uncontrollable, but we may find ourselves predicting the worst possible outcome to a situation.

    In building management, you must think about all the possible outcomes. You may spend hours preparing for the worst. After doing that, now take time to think about what other - better - possible outcomes there might be. Then consider how you and your team can make them happen and make a plan. If that plan includes purchasing new equipment or making upgrades to conserve energy, then you should consider accessing PACE financing (Property Assessed Clean Energy) to help with the costs of the energy conservation measures. 

Does my building qualify for PACE?  Click here to find out.I’m not a native Detroiter, but I’ve been here long enough that I feel like one. When the city went through a different dark time, the 2013 bankruptcy, I remember a constant theme that applies even more today, “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.”

Managing a building efficiently and cost effectively is no picnic, especially during a crisis. But crises will happen, local, national and international, that affect us all. This current situation with COVID-19 won’t last forever, and we will come out of it stronger. Don’t let the ANTs get to you! Use this time to better prepare your building, your staff, and your best asset - your own mind.

Need an expert opinion on your building preparedness? Contact Newman Consulting Group to schedule your assessment. 

Topics: Sustainability, indoor air quality, Energy Management Strategies, resilience, resiliency

Jim Newman

Written by Jim Newman

Jim Newman's passion is helping us move toward a healthier and more secure future – for people and the planet.

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