Putting Covid-safe measures at the heart of facilities management
The impact of Covid-19 has reshaped the role of facilities management. It now looks beyond how buildings are managed and services delivered to a broader role in ensuring compliance with complex and detailed guidelines designed to ensure Covid-safe environments.
Health, hygiene and overall wellness are now high on the leadership agenda and it’s the role of a facilities manager to ensure all of the necessary steps are being taken. Preventative and containment strategies are key to ensure employee and visitor safety in these unprecedented times. Having played an instrumental role in keeping businesses operational across flexible and office-based working during the health crisis, Facilities Managers are now key to deploying return to work strategies whilst managing the risk of Covid-19.
Compliance and Covid Compliance can be a cause for nervousness for Facilities Managers – but they don’t need to be. RFM Group have been helping UK Companies keep their workforce safe and their properties compliant and we can help you too!
Creating a Covid-secure environment
Government guidance states that all employers must carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment. This should include:
- Increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning
- Making every reasonable effort to enable working from home as a first option. Where office-based working is required, workplaces should make every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines
- Ensuring that when social distancing cannot be adhered to, that there is good justification for continuing to operate and that all possible mitigating actions are taken to reduce the risk of transmission between staff
- If employees must work face-to-face for a sustained period with more than a small group of fixed partners, assessing whether the activity can safely go ahead. No one is obliged to work in an unsafe work environment
Compliance and Assessing Who Has to be in the workplace
Employers are being asked to carefully consider which parts of their workforce are genuinely needed on site and if they aren’t, to position working from home as the preference. Workers in roles critical for business and operational continuity, safe facility management, or regulatory requirements and which cannot be performed remotely are given as an example.
Where it’s not possible for large groups of the workforce to work from home, the current guidance is to make maintaining the required social distancing at work as easy as possible.
Reviewing office layout is key to allowing people to maintain social distancing. Alongside this, staggered working patterns, reduced hotdesking and managing occupancy levels are suggested as ways to help minimise touchpoints, alongside increased deployment of smart technology to create a touchless working environment.
Hygiene in the workplace
Given the nature of the virus, there is an increased focus on hygiene and maintenance of cleaning standards in the workplace, with an emphasis on touchpoint cleaning, hand hygiene and surface disinfection. An additional area to consider is ventilation, with the advice stating that opening windows and doors to ensure fresh air can circulate is preferred.
Reducing transmission through contact with objects that come into the workplace and vehicles at the worksite is also given its own set of rules, including introducing cleaning procedures for goods and merchandise entering sites.
Supporting home and vulnerable workers
Given the new focus of facilities management, for some the role will extend to supporting home workers and those with specific needs as they navigate the current health crisis. As well as ensuring that employees have the equipment they need to carry out their role, thought should be given to discussing overall wellbeing and providing any additional support necessary.
Controls should also be put in place to manage any risks associated with vulnerable workers, such as maintaining a high-level of engagement and ensuring a good level of understanding about any workplace measures that have been put in place.
In the wake of the summer lockdown, there are now a raft of technology solutions that help facilities managers proactively manage and mitigate workplace risks from the virus as well as documenting ongoing compliance. These solutions range from tools to design workspaces for social distancing, how to support employees safely booking individual and collaborative workspace and tracking deep cleaning after use, and even contact tracing.
There are also advances in smart technologies, such as ‘smartphone-as-a-pass’, touch-free building access, remote monitoring and other technologies that build more flexibility into the way work and workplaces are organised.
In the future, facilities managers could be involved in more business-wide decisions to balance the use of office buildings with home workers. There will be the challenge of maximising building efficiency with reduced occupancy. Alongside this FMs could also find themselves rolling out new initiatives to maintain a comfortable and productive remote workforce. All this must be achieved whilst spending is under increased scrutiny, so budget optimisation and finding ways to spread costs will be crucial.
Compliance and Covid-19 Compliance can be a cause for nervousness for Facilities Managers, but they don’t need to be. RFM Group have been helping companies across the UK assess and keep compliant – and we can help you too!
RFM Group are one of the leading cleaning and facilities management companies in the UK, we have invested in specially designed disinfection fogging machines, to enable organisations to safely re-open their premises.