The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way businesses operate in a physical workspace. This, in turn, has also brought tremendous changes in the delivery of facility services across business verticals. One such notable change is the cleanliness and safety regimes of offices. The gamut of facility management operations today is primarily focused on cleaning, sanitisation, and disinfection as the pandemic continues to loom over. The Union Health Ministry of India has now warned against the impending third wave of the pandemic as the COVID-19 downtrend has slowed down.
For businesses reopening offices, it has become a mandate for facility managers to ensure that workspaces are adjusted to the new normal, are well sanitised and have low exposure to viruses so that employees can work effectively and efficiently. According to a recent survey, 72 per cent of Indian employees see ‘safe commute to work and overall workplace sanitation and cleanliness’ as a major concern whereas 42 per cent consider using shared workspaces, such as conference rooms’ a big challenge that can lead to the virus spread. Such workforce sentiments led facility managers to strenuously work towards redesigning, reorganising, and rebuilding workplaces to ensure safety and compliance with new norms and regulations.
Adapting Cleaning Routines
A detailed strategy for facility cleaning and sanitising is important for reducing exposure to coronavirus. Facility managers specialise in developing a cleaning strategy that is based upon real-time data such as area occupancy, high-touch surfaces, social distancing floor plans, staggered timings for employees. This data helps in identifying cleaning requirements and also dictates sanitising schedules. The cleaning teams and santisation crew are then aligned and deployed at different areas.
Training the Teams in Charge
As the housekeeping teams and sanitisation personnel work on the frontline, it is important that they are fully informed about best practices at the time of cleaning and disinfecting. Facility managers hold regular training sessions for cleaners which can be conducted online or in-person, depending upon the feasibility. To get started, cleaning teams are made aware of 5Ws:
- W – What to clean & sanitise
- W – When to clean & sanitise
- W – Which area needs to be cleaned & sanitised
- W – Which chemicals to be used on which surface
- W – Why their duty matters
Monitoring Workplace Safety and Hygiene
Implementing workplace safety and hygiene strategies is more difficult than creating them in the first place. One of the challenges in the implementation of safety and wellness programmes is getting employees to commit to workplace safety. Despite the raging COVID-19 pandemic, employees working in the office are still seen as negligent towards the safety norms. It may best be addressed by including workplace safety in the company’s mission statement, HR policies, and code of conduct (COC). Every employee should be made accountable to follow workplace safety norms such as wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing at all times. Facility managers can support this endeavour by inspecting and monitoring implementation of the standardised safety and hygiene norms for 100% compliance.
To further evaluate the performance of workplace safety and hygiene programmes, facility managers conduct internal surveys for all employees which help in gauging the impact of safety protocols on organisational resilience.
Inculcating the feeling of safety and security amongst employees at work is the key to better productivity. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, facility managers have taken greater importance in workplace safety and hygiene maintenance, an indirect yet significant contributor to the bottom line of the businesses.