Providing A Safe and Functional Hybrid Workplace in Extremely Tough Times
As the new wave of COVID-19 engulfs the world, organizations continue to tweak hybrid work models causing great disruptions in otherwise well-managed enterprises. Facility managers specifically have been under tremendous pressure to look after their well-being, as well as the safety of their employees.
What are the challenges facility managers have faced during the pandemic? How can they be helped in providing a safe workplace during such times? Let’s consider.
Why Do Facility Managers Have to Come On-Site?
Facility management includes a long list of disciplines that ensure the comfort, functionality, safety, and efficiency of the facility. They do this by putting together the right people, place, technology, and processes. They must constantly monitor all these aspects of the facility. Additionally, they look after aspects of operational budgets and assets. Such a role leaves little room for error. It’s no exaggeration to say that facility managers must be aware of every single thing that goes on in the workplace.
In the wider enterprise, certain roles cannot be executed remotely. Those who need to collaborate with others or use specialized machinery cannot work remotely. Individuals who provide support, other essential services, have to be on location. Certain functions in certain industries are bound by regulations and compliance needs to work on-location. In such situations, the onus is on the facility manager to make the workspace safe and comfortable for on-site employees.
Challenges Faced by Facility Managers and Their Solutions
Creating a Flexible and Dynamic Workspace
Many facilities have adopted a hybrid approach to working. That has created a need for most workplaces to change as the pandemic pans out. The FMs will play a leading role in creating agile offices that will support a hybrid workforce.
There are many approaches to this, such as adopting an activity-based working model. This creates collaborative spaces for employees to interact with each other. But this will have to be done according to COVID rules, so it has its set of challenges. Another approach is to create a dynamic workplace, with is both adaptable and agile. That will require new technology, software, and other support systems to quickly manage available floor space.
Technology that enables the workforce to work remotely will help FMs enable productivity at a certain level while they manage other on-site issues. Real-time location software can assess the occupancy analytics of the workplace. These are easy to use as well. They help employees reserve work stations beforehand, they study occupancy analytics on space usage, these can optimize building operational efficiency, and detect and count the people on-premise as well.
Facility Managers have to go on-site to ensure the safety of assets. When there’s less staff present in the office, it opens vulnerabilities for theft and vandalism. To help with this, there are remote systems management facilities, powered by IoT and sensor technology. These can be applied in asset tagging, HVAC, lighting, fire suppression, inventory management, security, and monitoring precious equipment. It’s best to adopt a complete asset tracking solution that harnesses the power of cloud software, QR code tags, and smartphone scanner apps.
Enforcing Building Sanitisation
Is the cleaning staff using specific products and procedures to clean the workplace? Are they following the government-issued guidelines for hygiene? Creating a safe work environment for those on-site has been the main challenge in these tough times. This includes evaluating janitorial schedules, daily cleaning practices, spot sterilization, and maintaining them all to specific standards.
FMs have to explore new products and practices, especially for shared equipment such as kitchen appliances and copiers. Workplace sanitization has to be done to maintain cleanliness and employee well-being. Robust programs have to be developed towards the same. A major time and effort saver here is technology. Certain software can automate various processes, give alerts when there are maintenance issues, and more.
An important aspect of sanitization would be to enforce air quality. COVID -19 spreads through water droplets in the air, so the air conditioning systems must be updated and safe. HVAC filters need to be changed to high-efficiency versions. Service and maintenance checks have to be conducted at regular intervals.
Less Staff at Hand
FMs will have to coordinate all these activities but with fewer people to support them. Many companies have downsized their staff and others have created staggered schedules for attendance. People have fallen sick or have ill family members who need care. Yet, the workload for FMs has increased. Internal help desk solutions and visitor management systems help FMs manage their tasks. An internal help desk is a feature-rich IT-help desk that addresses the remote team’s concerns as early as possible. A visitor management system can track, manage, and help visitors check-in with minimal manual intervention.
FMs are human and many have had to experience the difficult situations that everyone else is facing. Many could be battling personal issues – whether it’s ill health or the loss of a loved one. But with so much responsibility on their shoulders, they still must take action and perform their roles. Additionally, they must also take care of their health when they visit the facility and interact with others. If the FM falls ill, it will be difficult for the entire office to function.
To address the growing challenges presented by tough times, it’s worth considering the adoption of smart technology. For instance, our visitor, desk, and asset management solutions help streamline work to a great extent, even in hybrid work mode. The internal helpdesk aids in supporting the remote workforce, giving the manager more time to focus on other pressing matters. If the aim is to deliver impact while optimizing effort, then this is the right way to go. Reach out to us for more information on how you can produce a safe and fully functional hybrid workplace right now.