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Why it’s important to manage the facilities well during lockdown?

Being one of the largest lockdowns of the world, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced lock down in India on 24th March, shutting down $2.9 trillion economy and enforcing strict stay-at-home orders to 130 crore people. The harsh lockdown suspended air, road and rail transport in the country & also shut the corporate offices, factories, warehouses. All for good. It’s only the lockdown that can slow down the viral spread of COVID-19 till the time scientists and virologists find better alternatives.

Given the sharp increase in the confirmed coronavirus cases in India, the lockdown is not expected to be lifted any time sooner than the month of May. With a majority of people now working from home, risks associated with the non-functional, unattended facilities are expected to rise. On one hand, external threats due to lockdown of a long time to the facilities include vandalism, theft, and trespassing, the facilities face a multitude of challenges due to factors such as a build-up of germs and grime due to lack of cleanliness & hygiene maintenance and the reduced lifecycle of essential machinery & equipment due to irregular systematic inspections and performance testing.
Besides the revenue losses, the damage to the facilities and danger to the health & wellness of employees would be the last thing the businesses could ever afford after this quarantine. They would return to the facilities that have not been cared for several weeks or months. Thus, leaving the workplaces completely shut without any crisis management plan is a risky affair for any facility managers and organizations.

Below enumerated are some of the essential components of an effective, feasible crisis management plan that any business/facility manager struggling to cope with this lockdown should contemplate on.

1. Security Convergence For Business Continuity
As private security guards are considered essential workers during this pandemic, it is important for the businesses working from home to converge their cybersecurity and physical security to detect, deter and react to threats. For instance, any physical attack can be attempted to breach the cybersecurity or vice-versa. In such a case, the proactive information sharing mechanism would allow the building and infrastructure to be monitored and responded to by the security officers on the ground in case of emergency.

2. Cleanliness & Hygiene Maintenance For Good Working Order
Even though the workplaces are empty during this time, periodic deep cleaning is a must. The dirt, germs, bacteria, and viruses will build up on hard surfaces such as restroom surfaces, fixtures, floors, electronic equipment such as desktops and even in the surfaces in server rooms. The carpets may need some high-end cleaning and shampooing as suggested by Carpet & Rug Institute. The wood floors may require light grit screening, cleaning and application of solvent-based finish to keep it shining. Sinks may require re-caulking to not harbor the foreign particles. A three-pronged approach to workplace cleaning includes cleaning, disinfection and fumigation that would kill all sorts of harmful germs and viruses suspended in air.

3. Readying Fire Protection Equipment
A Fire Risk Assessment Framework specific to the current lockdown situation and understaffed facility should be created to manage in case of any exigency. Adequate provisions must be put in place for the control of fire in work processes, including the control of hot working. It should be ensured that the staff on the premises is well-aware of the action they need to take in case of a fire breakout. The facility managers should also ensure that all fire protection/fire-fighting equipment is in proper working condition. The sprinkler valve lock should be checked and rechecked on a regular basis whereas the accumulation of debris and grime should be cleaned well. Also, ignitable liquids should be removed.

4. 24×7 Active Command Center For Emergency Preparedness
Remote Command Center or a dedicated crisis-ready space in the facility is highly recommended to the businesses for managing their facility during this time of quarantine. The command center monitors the multiple locations (both inside & out) to predict & detect any risk as the team is deeply involved in gathering data and information in real-time. This team also stays informed about the latest events and accordingly decides upon the organization’s response during or post-crisis.

5. Regular Maintenance of Air- Conditioning Units
This is the most important time for the air conditioning units to undergo a complete check-up since post lockdown, the hot weather is going to hit hard when the employees return to work. A.C. has been sitting unused throughout winters and now during lockdown also, dirt and sludge accumulated will trigger odor, allergens, and germs. This could even lead to the complete failure of the unit. Therefore, preventive maintenance of A.C. is a must. Filters should be changed, if required. Coil cleaning should be done so that A.C. improves indoor air quality contributing to a healthy environment, that too with better operational efficiency.

6. Pest Control Drive To Stop The Growth of Pests
If the lockdown is further extended, pest control will be essential for the facilities. As the summer is right here, the rats and rodents are most likely to be found in the unoccupied facilities. If pest control drive is not conducted frequently (that is, every 4th week), the breeding of pests may destroy the critical assets of the business.

From manufacturing to hospitality, the industries are prepping up to resume work operations when 21-day nationwide lockdown ends. The companies are focusing on how to bring back the productivity levels of employees while ensuring their well-being at work. As we all know, a facility which is looked after well enhances the health & wellness of the people. Once the lockdown is over, employees would need to have a boost in morale to feel safe and secure at their workplaces. This can also be achieved when the facility managers maintain their facilities at par excellence during this lockdown full of uncertainties.

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