The coronavirus continuously wreaks havoc on the global business market. With so much uncertainty and disruptions, it’s necessary to be prepared for anything. Although many organisations have their staff working from home, certain industries don’t have that luxury. If your operations must take place with onsite employees, having a plan in place is the first priority to ensure there are no lags in productivity, quality or efficiency in the building management.
Pivot strategies are no longer an option, but should be an integral part of how the organisation moves forward. There must be a team in place and best practices guide to handle everything related to the coronavirus, from human resources to operational logistics. When designing an effective strategy for implementation, these five strategies should be part of the facilities managers’ responsibility:
Establish the pandemic team
The team should have an entire plan mapped out that includes what happens at every stage. This includes the facility, employees, testing, what happens if the facility shuts down, an emergency response number for employees to call, an employee directory to call and check on employees. Human Resources should have an integral role on the team. Together, these roles encompass integrated facility management.
Reduce physical proximity of staff
The facility manager should take immediate measures to reduce the amount of staff working in the same area, and other areas of the facility, such as elevators. If at all possible, scheduling should take place in shifts, and remote working should take place for all non-essential personnel. Protocols should be in place on interactions and how they should be conducted to reduce the risk of contamination. Any onsite centres, such as the gym and cafeteria should be closed off to the public.
A key component of the facility management overall strategy should be communication. Every policy in place should be visible throughout the building. Employees should be informed on sick leave policies and the national healthcare recommendations. An employee intranet where they can find information and get ongoing updates is key. Posters, handouts and recommendations should be distributed and posted with information on coughing and sneezing, hand hygiene, and who to contact if there is a suspected outbreak. The entire staff should be informed on how urgent information will be distributed.
Every industry has been impacted by the coronavirus. As a result, supply and demand for certain products looks a lot different. Supplies should be on hand to meet demand, but a contingency plan should also be in place to address instances where operations in certain locations are shut down. In the event a facility does have to close or there are layoffs, communicating that to the employees with as much lead time as possible.
Customers should also be kept informed on closures or shortages. It is important to let customers know and understand what is going on and how the organisation is handling those issues.
Employee Health and Safety
Thorough cleaning and disinfecting should be done all throughout the day. A clearing routine should be established with all products and how to use them. If there is a cleaning team in place, a schedule should be formed and implemented, with employees in the building aware of what times cleaning will take place and in what areas.
Employees should also be given instructions on how to wash their hands and how often; avoiding touching the mouth, nose and eyes; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; staying home when sick; covering any sneezes or coughs with tissue. Inventory on supplies should be reviewed and ordered every two days.
Best practices for an office includes stringent housekeeping areas. There should be a morning, noon and evening schedule, with multiple rounds during each schedule to disinfect high traffic and touchpoints. There should also be hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes available throughout the facility. Signs reminding employees to wash their hands should be in the restroom with a diagram of the proper technique. Scheduled replacement of any HVAC intake and air filters should have a recurring schedule. Using filters with a higher minimum efficiency reporting value rating is good to reinforce the plan.
Deferring Scheduled Maintenance Activities
As part of the overall plan, guidelines for deferring scheduled maintenance activities should be in place, reducing the activities for scheduled maintenance. Guidelines may include the following:
If the equipment failure cannot be addressed within a reasonable amount of time, there should be a kill switch to have a safe shutdown or isolation of equipment. This will absorb any losses stemming from failed equipment. Additionally, a backup generator should be around. Deferred maintenance work orders should be in place to determine if the equipment is working.
The coronavirus can severely impact your business if it hasn’t already. By working with a facilities management company and following these suggestions, your firm will be well prepared in combating the effects of the coronavirus while mitigating risk at every turn for effective building management.