Following the news of the gradual lifting of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, the FM sector must step up its contingency planning in line with new workplace rules.
The government’s five-stage plan, which will be staggered over the next six months, sees employees encouraged to return to the workplace as soon as possible. As a direct result, organisations are elevating the critical nature of FM services to ensure the ongoing safety and wellbeing of their employees.
Here, we explore some of the vital FM considerations for businesses looking to reopen their doors in the coming days and weeks.
Rethink your business continuity plan
The pandemic saw businesses draw upon their existing business continuity plans, and now’s the time to take everything learnt over the last two months and make necessary adjustments and improvements to guarantee resilience. Some of the key areas to examine include:
- Essential supplies. Is your current asset portfolio strong enough to ensure ‘business as usual’ if your supply chains are interrupted again?
- Social distancing. How will your workspace be adapted so that workers maintain a safe distance from one another?
- Remote working. Is this going to be a permanent option to deliver safe occupancy levels in line with social distancing rules?
- Contingency. If there’s a second spike of the virus, can your business cope with losing a percentage of the workforce through illness or care responsibilities? Do you need to review your contingent workforce strategy in light of this?
- Supply chain. How have your suppliers responded to the pandemic? Can they support you through another potential period of disruption?
Enhanced health, safety and hygiene
First and foremost, health guidance from the government should be the bible for businesses looking to reopen their doors. Aside from implementing strict sanitising, hand washing and social distancing protocols, consider the following:
- Cleaning. The World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that the coronavirus could survive on inanimate objects and remain viable for up to five days at temperatures of 22-25°C and relative humidity of 40-50 per cent. Incidentally, this is typical of an air-conditioned environment. As such, it’s vital for businesses to work closely with FM professionals to assess the level of cleaning and disinfecting that’s required prior to reopening and after employees return.
- Visitor tracking. Continue or implement a formal system for anyone visiting the workplace that isn’t an employee. If you already have a visitor log book or check-in system, start requesting contact details in case you need to get in touch if it emerges they’ve come into contact with a virus victim.
- System checks. This is particularly important if a building has been closed, or only open to a small group of employees, throughout the lockdown. Checks should be carried out on fire safety, security, water, and HVAC systems to ensure they’re still safe and operational. Additionally, any fire safety measures need to be reviewed in line with new social distancing rules, with evacuation procedures practised.
Look beyond the bottom line
A long-term consideration for businesses comes down to an adjustment in attitude towards FM services. Previously perceived as a fixed commercial cost that could be squeezed or even eliminated in the face of budget constraints, FM is now an ethical matter. Can you remove something from a business that ensures the safety of everyone working within it? COVID-19 has reinforced that health and safety are paramount, and employees are set to cast a more critical eye over business practices. For these reasons, FM will remain an area in which continual investment is required long into the future.
Need FM resourcing support?
Omni RMS sources highly skilled contractors and permanent staff for a wide range of organisations. Find out more about our Workforce Solutions and how we can help your business reopen safely by contacting our team today.