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Tools for work

January 31, 2022

Facilities Management issues smartphones for employees

Two Custodial employees taking photos with smartphones
Central Grounds E&G custodial services workers Cory Tyler and Anita Johnson use their FM-issued smartphones to document areas needing special attention.

In September 2021, Facilities Management kicked off a process initiated by the Continuous Improvement team to provide work-issued smartphones to all employees.

Technology & Innovation and Occupational Training formed a partnership to meet the goal of distributing and equipping employees with the tools and knowledge to be successful in the workplace. Support from the Facilities Management Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program has helped make sure the process is completed through a DEI lens by considering whether this initiative will work for everyone.

“Providing our teams with the tools they need to do their job freely without using their own personal resources was viewed as a win-win and created a level playing field for all,” according to AVP/CFO Don Sundgren. “Facilities Management wants to continue to work together to build a learning and working environment where all individuals are supported, respected, and can thrive.”

“Providing smartphones helps keep our workforce connected (especially with the rise in use of video conferencing during the pandemic),” adds Director of Technology & Innovation Chris Smeds. “In addition to being a great communication tool, smartphones also provide our employees with access to information that helps them be more effective in the field.”

The Central Grounds E&G Custodial Services team led by Manager Joe Newton was selected as the initial group to proceed through the process of receiving smartphones for all team members and training on the use of the devices.

“Working with teams to help them understand or get to know their new iPhones better has been both a rewarding and eye-opening experience,” according to Occupational Training team members Sarah Ditulli and Julie Thomas. “Occupational Training has been getting a fresh perspective on the relevant needs and challenges of our diverse workforce and the areas they serve.”

Custodial Services Supervisors Joe Mackey and Jessica Snow agree the program has been a success.

“An employee is able to text me pictures directly from their worksite,” said Mackey. “Before, they were using a flip phone, the training has been wonderful.”

As a prior frontline worker, Snow knew the change was coming and was glad to see it occur. “Members of my team are now able to text me, the communication and effort put into my team for training has really paid off,” she said.

“Though simple devices, they open the doors that were previously closed and build a sense of inclusion and belonging,” said Systems Control Center Manager Dan Shantler, who serves on the Facilities Management Inclusive Excellence planning team. Shantler is a part of the planning team's Infrastructure and Investment Group, which set a goal of equitable access to devices into their action plan.

The rollout process will continue under the guidance of Richard Covington and the Technology & Innovation team. For further questions, please contact Emily Douglas at

About the author

Emily Douglas
Facilities Management Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Specialist
UVA Facilities Management
(434) 906-5810