23 Mar 2020

What will a Work-From-Home Situation Mean for Facility Management in Nigeria?

The Corona Virus Pandemic has surly introduced new twists into everything – work, leisure, lifestyle, interactions and even families. One of such twists is the seeming endorsement – or should we say compulsion of remote working?

Remote working has been a debate for over a decade; with different arguments for and against and different stories from those who have given it a trial.

The tech eco-system has not just designed an entire system around it, they are also practicing it and Africa, particularly Nigeria is having its fair share of this new way of working.

But with the need to – as much as possible – limit human-to-human physical interaction as a control and containment measure for the continuous spread of the virus, comes a very compelling need to transition to remote working.

Although a few organizations – mostly tech startups and multinationals – have announced remote working in Nigeria, the coming weeks might see a significant shift in the mode of work that most Nigerians are used to. Already Lagos and Kwara state governments have asked a significant part of their workforce to work remotely, following a sporadic record of the virus in Nigeria over the weekend.

If a significant size of the Nigerian workforce transits to remote working, what can it mean for Facilities Management operations and professional in Nigeria?

  1. High Cost in the Residential Sector: Already, power accounts for up to 40 to 60 percent of FM cost in the industry today. With more people having to work from home, cost of power, waste, security and consumables may move in the upward direction.
  2. Spike in Retail Activities: If what is happening in countries like China and Italy are anything to go by, the retail centres – including neighborhood stores – are likely to witness a surge in footfall of shoppers who may be preparing for a total lock-down situation. This will mean increase security arrangement, cleaning, space management (conspicuously marking the space in line with the social distancing principle) for the FM team. However, this might halt should the situation escalate and need for everyone to stay indoors arises. FM will need to think of how to manage a case of increasing and decreasing personnel with a short period.
  3. Essential Services in Corporate Environment: Although most offices are considering remote working, there are few – particularly in banking, who have announced rotational working schedules. FM will have to think of how to manage cost to ensure that the organization is not bearing as much cost as it bears when the building are fully operational.
  4. IT Support Skills: Technology is at the heart of remote working. FMs or FM organizations without tech capabilities will not be able to support their organization or client during this time. This may mean a re-evaluation of the relationship or engagement at the end of COVID-19.
  5. Low Engagement of FM Services Staff: For most corporate organisations, FM services staff such as janitors, technicians, security guards, etc are either from third party vendors, FM companies, or directly on the company’s payroll. With remote working and the need to keep employees safe from exposure, these FM services staff may be idle for some time or for a long time, their wages issues will have to be discussed and agreed.
  6. Supply Chain Issues: While most people are working from home, the FM needs to engage the supply chain to ensure that people working from home, have comfortable and productive experience. This will have to do with how the FM deals with their supply chain such as diesel supply, consumables, repair and maintenance, etc; particularly if the situation escalates into a total lockdown scenario.

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