Here is a look at how the industry has come together! The built environment has now become a bedrock in supporting critical roles in terms of health and social care. Being in charge of the built environment and the safety of the occupants it is the responsibility of facility management to take action towards implementing the right prevention and containment strategies associating with OA/ owner of the property. They have become the defacto crisis managers during the pandemic, taking charge of the security response plan and acting as the designated source for information on workplace safety. The industry has actively come together as a community to maximize its resources and now plays a pivotal role in tackling the spread of the virus.
At present, the safety of employees, customers, sub-contractors, and visitors has become a priority for every facility management service provider. This effort is being performed in several ways that include a strict cleaning protocol recommended by the local regulatory authorities and WHO.
Some of the precautions have been implemented but not limited to;
- Performing testing of employees
- Residence and visitors entering a building with temperature scanners
- Compulsory face mask and wearing gloves
- Hand sanitizer in place
- Make sure that employees frequently wash their hands and routinely disinfect their work area
- Reducing physical proximity and social distancing
- Frequent Cleaning and disinfecting
- Avoiding staff vacation and international trips
- Enhance communication channel and keep briefed
- A daily log for employees for contact tracing
First of all, there is no “one size fits all” or “derivative” approach applicable. Flexibility is important when it comes to adapting to what each property needs, which can shift depending on location, type of tenants/use, and the age of the property, among many other factors. Facility resilience as it relates to health and wellness strategies in buildings moves to center stage.
A forgotten safety practice and procedure that is usually overlooked or ignored involves contractor protocols and building rules. During this COVID-19 pandemic, it's even more important than the building rules and regulations are upheld and not relaxed. Safety is not just about keeping safe, it’s also about making people feel safe. When coming up with solutions, don’t settle for the bare minimum — teams simply wearing gloves and masks will not suffice. Consider what other measures can be put into place that is easy and cost-effective to implement, while adding more layers of protection.
With the summer season at its peak, energy efficiency is a core aspect of any building operation and should not be minimized, underprioritized, nor neglected. And PPM scheduled to be executed as planned. Efficient, sustainable operation results in a more productive and safer environment for all occupants of a building and more cost savings. Therefore, the need is for a holistic solution that can address all the workplace requirements while keeping the cost under check.
Technologies are being deployed during the pandemic to a great extent. Risk assessment and forecasting through AI is becoming a vital part of FM today. Facial recognition technologies along with data can accurately identify people even if they are masked. And also, technologies help FM in monitoring movement and tracking of people who are quarantined. Drones and robots are more involved in the cleaning sector. Virtual meetings, cloud conferencing, and virtual/mixed/augmented reality are widely used. Indeed, the technology has advanced more and will continue to advance exponentially, but the human institutions and societies need to accelerate in adapting to it and continue investing in building the technology systems for the preparedness.
Most organizations that occupy commercial, retail, and hospitality real estate space are experiencing a very disruptive event that has required them to completely alter how and when they can conduct business. But facility management service providers are the catalyst for such organizations to do better positions in their buildings and or operation for the inevitable business continuity.
The spread of the coronavirus is now a worldwide crisis that not only threatens the health and wellbeing of the general population but is also having a significant impact on the economy and businesses. Thus, despite FM is an essential sector and the ongoing demand for critical service provision, they are facing a reduced level of activity/cost across many customer sites such as reducing manpower, material, etc. Interestingly, this is also putting them in a Catch-22 situation.
The facilities management is always focusing on prevention that is not only limited to asset management but also has been applied against COVID-19. Therefore, outsourcing FM will no longer be a good-to-have element, instead, it will become a must-have in the post-COVID world.
(The author Naiju Anselam is the General Manager of Awtad FM)