Facility Management and COVID19 – The Way Forward
The Covid-19 pandemic changed everything. Work, play, interaction, socialization all evolved to reflect the social distancing orders. Naturally, it is only to be expected that the utilization of spaces and facilities has been forever altered. To meet new standards of comfort and well-being for occupants of buildings and offices, this means a new scope of operations for facility managers.
There has been a transition from the strict work-at-home model, with businesses the world over return to the world of offices. This implies a significant shift in the facility manager’s responsibilities. To ensure safe spaces with this return, a look into the top roles of the facility manager is absolutely necessary, as they now have to set new standards for building hygiene, indoor air quality and environmental integrity. The following points are key:
1. Increased Inter-departmental Collaboration
The focus is now on work-from-home. Flexibility, sustainability, and adaptation of new technologies become the new keywords. In this model, FMs must embrace resilience and adaptability to these new models.
The most direct way to incorporate this is by ensuring deeper interdepartmental collaboration. When all departments in your company are better aligned, FMs will find these models easier to incorporate.
Finance and Admin, Human Resources, Sales and Business Development, ICT, Training, and all depts related to operations will need to be better aligned, ensuring that each is just a short phone call away.
Increased interdepartmental collaboration within these divisions ensures greater ability to tackle challenges and make steady progress. This is the only thing facility managers can strive to achieve, else, they might be forced to get down and invest more time in learning about their company’s financial and technological drivers.
2. More Focus on Healthy Buildings
In this post-pandemic world, one of the most important points to focus on is healthy buildings. How is a healthy building achieved? It will involve the careful management of health and safety in the building, the occupants, within an operational life-cycle. A few ways FMs can utilize to establish healthy buildings include:
- Ensuring operational sustainability
- Prioritizing a better work-life balance
- Advocating work-from-home and other hybrid models
- Identify and maintain areas of cost savings
- Obeying governmental regulations concerning workplace health and safety
- Pro-actively finding more ways to improve building cleanliness, taking into account time and cost.
A facility condition assessment should be conducted to find how the building can be upgraded/retrofitted for sustainability. These could include:
- An analysis the current sustainability, with emphasis on production levels
- HVAC and similar energy systems might need to be upgraded for energy efficiency and cleanliness
- Incorporate eco-friendly cleaning supplies
- Practicing Preventative maintenance; this is an absolute necessity
- Recycling must be incorporated into operations-for large equipment, lighting, etc.
3. The Workplace Experience: Owning it
Traditionally, facility managers have not been primarily responsible for the wellbeing of their facility’s occupants, other than for purposes of physical health. Now, however, the post-pandemic world mandates that FMs should consider the workplace experience as one of their primary charges.
What is the workplace experience? It simply refers to the identification of optimal approaches for employees (and employers) to do their work! Beyond health regulations and standards, it goes further to find ways to improve comfort, enhance indoor environmental quality, and employing technology to drive better business outcomes.
Facility managers are encouraged the workplace experience seriously because it has gotten more holistic. They should maximize the use of space and use it to improve employee engagement and productivity, and to ensure lower real estate costs.
As was iterated under #1, FMs can align with HR and try to find reasons why employees are inclined to leaving, and look to improve areas of workplace quality that fall under the facility manager’s jurisdiction.
4. Incorporating a Stable Workplace Strategy
Of course, FMs may already be involved in employing different workplace strategies. We have seen how essential they are, in optimizing operational efficiency of any facility. Still, they may be a need to come up with a single, temporary strategy for a period, and that comes with its own set of challenges.
If, say, most employees are expected to participate in a remote-work model, the FM will be expected to use this model to try and drive down real estate costs. In addition, he will be needed to find out the necessary changes needed from a business(financial) perspective if the transition is over and employees move back into the office.
Needless to say, it is the FMs that come up with the most successful workplace strategies who will be rewarded and promoted. The successful facility manager ensures that all aspects of the strategy are implemented, performs checks and re-assessments to guarantee success.