Facility Management expert and SCS instructor, Marcia O’Connor, explains the critical role Facility Managers play in a post-COVID return to work.
Returning to work in an office space or building after COVID-19 has its challenges, but offers Facility Managers the opportunity to let everyone know the importance of facility management (FM).
Don’t forget that FM has always been an essential service during COVID-19. Buildings don’t care about a pandemic, they continue to have important needs! It’s been our responsibility to:
Ensure customers, clients, and our buildings are safe.
Keep buildings functioning at top capacity and performance.
Stay on top of critical maintenance and address outages
Make sure sufficient PPE is available, and social distance measures were in place.
Set social distance rules for staff/students/clients who require access to facilities/buildings.
Leverage remote contact devices for meetings and maintenance.
So, now that we can see the light, how do we prepare to ease a large portion of the workforce back into our buildings? How can we help them feel safe in their work environment? Here are five things Facilities Managers can do to help ease people's transition to in-person work:
1. SAFEGUARD THE WELL-BEING OF YOUR WORKFORCE.
Ensure PPE protocols continue to be placed and followed. Adhere to COVID rules, make sanitizers available, ensure people wear masks when appropriate, and keep social distance measures in mind when designing workspaces.
2. ENSURE REGULAR ROUTINES ARE MAINTAINED WITH HEIGHTENED AWARENESS OF SANITIZATION.
Buildings need to be kept in good condition to mitigate business disruption and risk (ie. air circulation systems).
3. BE EMPATHIC
Keep your staff needs in mind, as some may be returning to the office environment with stress and uncertainty. Remember that this transition will feel different for everyone.
4. DEVELOP A STAGED APPROACH ON RETURNING TO THE WORKPLACE.
Develop a gradual return to the workplace plan. Start asking staff to return to the office 1-2 days or alternate days a week. Changing this plan will be dependent on workspace availability and staff risk tolerance.
Ongoing communication for customers and staff on your company’s back-to-work plans is critical. Keep everyone informed, and use language that is accessible to everyone. Be clear, honest, and transparent in your communication.
Facilities Management plays a crucial role in how we experience this migration back to work, whether full time or in a hybrid model. By leading and communicating with empathy, while ensuring important safety measures are in place, we can support a calmer, easier, and healthier transition.
Marcia O'Connor is a strategic-minded leader with more than 25 years of progressive experience in corporate real estate and integrated facilities management Marcia has impressive credentials and a passion for working in high-energy, fast-paced growth companies in the non-profit, private and public sector, building high-performance teams, mentoring young professionals, and helping people, teams, and organizations see their potential.
Marcia has been accredited in pioneering the first Facilities Management Certificate Program at the University of Toronto, where Marcia also leads the new Health Care Environmental Service Management Course, Advanced FM Course, Accessibility, Health and Safety for Building Professionals as well as the Disaster Recovery for Building Professionals course offered at SCS.
Marcia has also been recognized by her peers and awarded “Facility Manager of Excellence” through the Toronto IFMA Chapter. This award was a nomination from her peers and recognized Marcia as an outstanding contributor to the FM profession.
Marcia currently provides program expertise and is the lead instructor for the Facility Management Certificate Program at SCS. Her Advanced Facilities Management course starts March 28, 2022.
Published on the Curious U blog site by University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies #UofTSCS on March 24, 2022
Owner at AMFM Consulting Group Inc.