As with most other professions, Facilities Management has also evolved with the new world, occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. Across the globe, the repercussions of the health crisis stand as proof of the severity of the pandemic on lives, living, and corporate existence.
What are the trends that have emerged since the new normal? How have they impacted FM as a profession and as a business support function? What can FM professionals learn and how can FM companies take advantage of the new way of life this health crisis presented?
- Flexible Working
According to a remote work report by Review, 52% of global employees work remotely once a week and 68% do so at least once per month. Flexible working is now an upcoming trend that was necessitated by the pandemic and it has become a fixture in the workplace environment. And while the pandemic has its advantages and disadvantages, it has forced an evolution of FM functions like Space Management and Maintenance. There has been a twist to how they are done especially with more people working from home.
Space management has now progressed from the management of the company’s space inventory to space optimization i.e. ensuring that every space in the workplace is adding its own value.
With fewer people in the workplace, there is now excess space that is not commanding value but still needs to be managed, this in turn affects the bottom line of the company. It is now up to the Facility Manager to advise the organization on how well to optimize the space to gain value for the company, companies that can afford it can rent out spaces that are not in use.
People working from home will also mean assets and pieces of equipment like printers and light fittings that involve human interaction will be used less thus reducing the frequency of reactive maintenance. While this doesn’t mean preventive maintenance is stopped or reduced, the reduction in reactive maintenance saves costs for the company
- Growing interest in safer environments
Due to the global pandemic that has claimed the lives of over one million people all over the world, the need for increased hygiene in the workplace – cleaning and disinfection within and outside the workplace cannot be overemphasized. Regular sanitation procedures and cleaning frequencies may not suffice for commonly used surfaces like door handles, taps, elevator buttons or staircase railings in areas such as restrooms and meeting rooms.
Based on this, FMs must advise the organization/client on the importance of creating business continuity plans especially in aspects of Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE), being able to develop and implement such plan will allow for a smooth running of the business, pandemic or not.
FMs can also take advantage of automated maintenance systems to manage and pre-schedule tasks using real-time data.
- Social Distancing
The pandemic has mandated that FMs find new ways to manage occupants and visitors of a building such that social distancing is enforced, this is a great opportunity for FMs to migrate from paper-based visitor management to the use of automated visitor management systems.
Some companies have implemented the hot desk method for their employees and this can lead to a need for office restructuring in order to accommodate these changes, while this is necessary to stick to social distancing guidelines, it also creates an issue especially with the increase in online meetings – employees in open offices that are not partitioned will more often than not experience interference from other colleagues during meetings. In this case, FMs can begin to introduce movable partitions in the office and according to Office Output Professionals, partitions can increase work productivity by 32%.