Facilities teams have had to become multi-skilled as a necessity as a result of the coronavirus crisis, according to figures in the industry.
Sean Fisher, chief operating officer at support services company, Atalian Servest, told Facilitate that the need for “multiskilling our people was, and continues to be, so important”.
Fisher said: “There is no one size fits all answer for new operational strategies in the COVID-19 era, but the speed at which events transpired demonstrated our ability to work in a more agile way than before.”
“A reduced workforce and allocation changes meant many colleagues were often needed in different areas of the business," said Fisher, with the firm’s learning and development division called ‘Opportunity’ playing a key part.
Atalian Servest has enforced social distancing at all its offices and sites, and has also implemented what it calls additional 'safety nets' including adjusting ventilation systems "to maximise fresh air intake and prevent recirculated air between rooms".
The security team has implemented thermal imaging and capacity monitors and its cleaning division has increased capacity for mobile cleaning teams so they can respond to urgent reactive and planned calls for high-demand services such as fogging.
Floor markings, signage, risk assessment method statements (RAMS) and hygiene stations have also been put in place. It has also equipped all teams with PPE, Perspex screens, thermal imaging cameras, and key skills and mindsets, which will "be critical in ensuring we continue to keep our colleagues and clients safe whilst maintaining excellent service delivery", according to Fisher.
Meanwhile, Toby Reeve, account manager at property management firm Anabas told Facilitate that "across the sector, everyone has had to adapt the way they work, and it’s no different for us".
As the situation has changed, said Reeve, staff have had to "flex" its our service delivery to adapt to client needs.
"The key to our strategy has been to manage staffing levels efficiently. Our aim is to be robust and resilient enough to deal with the busier days," he said.
"In the absence of face to face meetings, we are using technology like WhatsApp and Microsoft Teams, not only to ensure that service levels are maintained, but also to keep in touch with colleagues and provide support to those who may be suffering without the same level of sociability and interaction in the workplace.
"Our on site teams are working more closely with clients as well. They are collaborating to encourage the right behaviour from building occupants. We have mapped out return to work plans and are using signage to deliver the right communications at the right points around the building. We are also taking a proactive approach to risk assessments and thinking about how to manage occupancy fluctuations in advance so we are fully prepared.
"We don’t know what changes are still to come but it is so important to work together. As facilities managers we should be guiding our clients and sharing our expertise to keep everybody safe."