The role of a facility manager is to look after physical assets, organizations, buildings but most importantly, people, by taking actions that ensure containment strategies and prevention at the worksite. As expected with COVID-19 pandemic, FM roles have had to adapt and improve their performance to mitigate or alleviate the virus spread, mostly taking preventive actions in very short term.
The International Facilities Maintenance Association (IFMA) has developed a manual in May 2020 for facility management professionals for planning and responding to this global health crisis.
Though we understand that this manual does not answer all questions on how a company can react to COVID, it is a very comprehensive and overall great material for those owners or employees who work at critical positions. Here we highlight some items we found particularly important.
Planning and preparation for facility managers during a pandemic.
For a pandemic plan or preparation,facility management staff have to keep track of events by time and date. These records should explicitly mention all processes that worked successfully, as well as any adjustments to be made at the facilities.
Some of these pandemic procedures and policies mentioned in the manual for the FM department should be:
- FM department should train and point out “plan b” employees for key positions. Of course this training and identification process has to be approved by supervisor level.
- Minimizing closeness of staff in daily operations and activities to avoid conglomeration. For example the total amount of personnel in an elevator should not be greater than 50% of the maximum capacity of them. The closest distance among employees should be at least 2.5 square meters (1.5 meters).
- Handshaking greetings have to be avoided at any cost. In order to reduce hand-to hand contamination risk, avoid greeting any people you may need interaction with such as clients or suppliers staff.
- Facility managers should distribute alcohol gel for resting areas, meeting rooms or cafeteria.
Recommended supplies at the facilities:
It is imperative for the FM staff to have the sufficient supplies or at least sufficient quantities of next provisions.
- HEPA filters for HVAC systems
- Protective equipment such as smocks, head covers, eye protection, face masks
- Chlorinated cleaners or antiseptics
- Tissues and antiseptic wipes.
COVID-19 has been a challenge for everyone and as managers we can help reduce the spread of this pandemic.
Taking actions and supporting our staff are crucial to keep key operations running in these critical circumstances.