With the world crawling back to “new normal,” workplaces’ safety has become important like never before. The pandemic has changed the way people work and communicate. No matter how much work from home came out as a feasible solution in these unusual times, coming back to offices is certain across many of the industries in India.
According to the new organization protocols, employers need to prepare their employees to get back to work safely by following strict instructions like new visitor policies, elevator usage, food deliveries, seating configurations, frequent hand washing, wearing of masks, etc. And here is when the role of a good facility manager comes into picture.
Realty Buzz IN spoke to Mr. Pradeep Lala, MD & CEO, Embassy Services Pvt. Ltd, one of the India’s largest and most trusted integrated facilities management players, on the trends and safety regulations in new age work spaces under the new normal. Here is the excerpt.
What are the new age safety and hygiene measures being adopted to keep the workplace safe?
There are several actions that facility managers are employing to ensure safety at the workplace. Strict Security, surveillance starting from the gate to touchless access systems and elevators at lobbies are the first in line to begin with. Temperature screening at the entrance through infrared thermal scanners and wearing a mask is mandatory for all visitors.
Regular deep cleaning, fumigation and sterifume disinfection is carried out across the business park. Self-declaration of all staff and visitors is run through a digitalized visitor management system.
UV lightings for washrooms and AHU units have been introduced. Provision of sanitizers and signages across lobbies and common areas. Food courts and engagement zones have been redesigned to meet the demands of social distancing. Stringent waste management procedures are carried out for medical waste.
Most importantly, our staff on ground are provided with quality PPE gear and equipment to deliver operational excellence.
With respect to the new normal, is there any kind of special training being given to facility Managers?
In addition to the regular safety and hygiene protocols that are already followed, we provide our staff with special training through webinars and practical programs in handling the pandemic and preparing them to manage any COVID19 contingencies that may occur.
Training in first aid and safety, fumigation and sterifume, sustainable waste management and preparing the workplace as per the new safety guidelines is frequently done to upskill staff. We also put them through soft skill training that teaches them to make all employees returning to work feel positive, safe and secure.
Workplaces in pre-Covid era were defined by small cubicles and large meeting halls. How do you see this evolving? Will there be any changes in the design models?
Most modern and upcoming offices have already moved to a concept of openness and spaciousness. While surely, they will consider more flexibility going forward, existing workspaces will also consider this if they don’t have adequate space for a 100% headcount.
Cafeterias, sports zones and recreation zones are also aspects that embrace a workspace, however these will be redesigned to fit lesser people and avoid crowded gatherings.
What is the role of Infrastructure management companies in redefining the new normal in 2021?
The role of infrastructure management companies is critical to our sustenance. With the knowledge and expertise in managing facilities, they are most skilled to manage the new requirements and implement compliance to evolving protocols.
One of the first steps to prepare the workspace for employees getting back to work in 2021 is to consider the availability of clean and adequate air supply at the premises, efficient filtration systems with UV, sensors at entry and exits with AI based temperature pods that aid contactless monitoring of services.
It is extremely critical to collectively work towards reviving the economy for which people need to return to public spaces. The act of mere commute and support to even small businesses that sustain around this ecosystem will contribute to progress. As Facility managers, we are the first line of control to ensure that these demands are met for the safety and security of all.
What is the future outlook to ‘Infrastructure management and Services industry’ if remote working becomes the long term corporate culture?
While IT and digital based organizations might encourage WFH option on a long term, there are many businesses that cannot pursue this. Being present at a common space defines the ethos of many businesses. SMEs might venture a shift model or make use of co-working spaces for discussions and presentations. The growth of flexible workspaces will also provide opportunities for the service industry.
While it will be interesting to observe how the workspace culture evolves, it will surely give the industry an opportunity to continue innovating and meet the dynamic demands of the world.
Read on for role of tech in future of facility management.