Facility services for a corporate office building.

Facility Managers and reoccupying buildings that were shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic

Facility Managers play a crucial role in re-opening buildings closed during the COVID-19 crisis.

Buildings that were not maintained, not effectively cleaned, and still functioning during the current crisis require serious effort to get the spaces livable. If this is not done, the buildings could pose a health hazard. Buildings that were shut down or virtually emptied with due consideration and maintained during the closure period will be much closer to being functional, safe and ready to reopen.

Here are some key things to consider when engaging your Facility Manager as you plan to reoccupy your building in a phased and considered manner:

  • Cleaning/sanitization scope. It’s time to revisit procedures and cleaning products from top to bottom. In addition to engaging your janitorial provider, consider engaging a Certified Industrial Hygienist or an Infection Control Specialist to assess your facility and various spaces to provide guidance and best practice to minimize exposure, how to work safely and develop communication and training tools for your occupants or tenants that can be shared before they come back.
  • Space planning. Accept that how we use space in the workplace will change, particularly the requirements for physical distancing that will continue. Look at work flow in your building – how do people move in the course of a day, how will shipments be received, how will visitors be handled, food/beverage processes, waste streams, and so on.
  • Review existing building management processes, procedures and protocols. Ensure that you have incorporated relevant recommendations on best practices for dealing with COVID-19, and pandemics in general (e.g. IFMA, BOMA, CDC, WHO, Health Canada, ASHRAE etc.).
  • Revisit your approach to HVAC Operation and Maintenance. This is particularly true regarding indoor air quality, humidity and cleanliness. Be thorough, be proactive and invest in systems, filtration and maintenance.
  • Consider use of technology/software. Technology takes building data and leverages predictive analytics in your facilities so that your Facility Manager can anticipate issues before they happen. As a client you gain insight into how your buildings are performing and can be made more resilient. The end result is having a healthier, more productive space.
  • Communication. Be it electronically, by signage or through other mediums, you will have to revisit how you communicate with occupants or visitors.
  • Overall security of IT systems & cybersecurity. Building systems are an avenue for cyber-attacks, which become particularly severe during periods of unrest, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Inventory/Supplies. What you procure, how you procure it and then how you manage stores will change. Revisit the approach to inventory, supplies (especially PPE), and critical spares.

This is not an exhaustive list of considerations. Keep in mind that the resources needed to carry out many of these exercises will be in high demand and short supply.

If you want to learn more about any of these areas, contact Black & McDonald. We stand ready to help you prioritize, plan and execute facilities management.