The consequences of COVID-19 for Facilities Management

 

It’s not been an easy time for the facilities management sector during the coronavirus pandemic. Will the future be any brighter? Let’s find out.

The Coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone’s work life, but it’s perhaps had more effect on people in the facilities management industry than most. Many offices were closed, reopened, closed again and everything in between – and we’re still far from the end. Facilities managers have had to be flexible and adapt to new working methods, often with very little notice. It’s been a strange and uncertain time.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the effects of COVID-19 on facilities management, as well as what the future may hold. Let’s go.

 

FM – the forgotten essential work

When companies closed their offices at the start of the pandemic back in March 2020, they did not prioritise facilities management issues. This is understandable, as companies had their hands full dealing with furlough, the processes of working from home and much more besides. We’ve even heard cases of facilities managers being made redundant.

However, facilities management didn’t go away. Even empty offices need people to keep them in a useable state for the future. Buildings still need to be monitored for security and fire protection, while someone needs to turn the taps on regularly to stop stagnant water building up in the traps.

Then, when the Government lifted the initial set of restrictions and urged people to go back to workplace, facilities managers had to spring back into action.

 

New working processes

In many cases, facilities managers were working from home as well, having to adapt to this new way of operating (and home-schooling at the same time!).

Where this change was most felt is in dealings with external contractors. Before the pandemic, facilities managers would see contractors every day and monitor first-hand the standard of their work. That isn’t possible when you work from home – and this could lead to lower quality work. Zoom is no substitute for face-to-face.

 

Reopening sites

As sites began to reopen, facilities management suddenly became important again.

The pressure was on companies to provide a safe and sanitary environment for their employees. It would be facilities managers that would bear this burden.

Offices needed to be deep-cleaned before people came back, with regular cleaning and sanitising throughout the day. Employees would expect to see cleaners going about their business during the working day.

Facilities managers would also have to organise new layouts in the offices that encourage social distancing, as well as putting up signs, screens and hand-cleaning stations. They may also have to conduct temperature checks for employees on their way into the building.

 

The future

The future is uncertain. At the time of writing, we are still in the third lockdown with no end in sight. However, once everyone is vaccinated, we should assume that offices will be able to open as before.

What we don’t know is how many companies will want to reopen their offices in the way they did before the pandemic. In most companies, working from home has been a success. Companies will wonder whether they really need to have huge offices for everyone, with all the cost and administration they incur. It is hard to predict where the demand will be this time next year.

One thing about the pandemic is that it has forced more adoption of technology in facilities management. Companies have been compelled to innovate and look for creative solutions to make facilities management work in the new landscape. These include automated systems for lighting and heating that do not need regular human input.

One thing is for sure; facilities management professionals need to stay flexible and continue looking to innovate. One day, COVID will end, but its effects will be with us for a long time.

Find out more from Joshua Robert

If you’re in the property industry and looking to build a relationship with a committed, forward-looking recruitment agency, talk to the Joshua Robert team on 0121 582 0877, or visit our site today.