It’s been more than half a year since the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the world, prompting state governments across Australia to enact stay-at-home orders.
Companies in corporate offices had no choice but to let their employees work from home. Others, especially those whose jobs are considered essential during the pandemic, take staggered shifts to their offices to practise social distancing. The bottom line is, you’ll have less to worry aboutmaintenance.
However, it doesn’t mean that you should shut down our processes completely. You still need regular security, maintenance routines and health and safety protocols for employees who still have to be in your facility. Plus, you also have to deal with clients potentially cancelling contracts because of the pandemic.
So you’ll have to manage costs and make critical decisions to keep your property profitable during this crisis.Even if you do weather the storm that is COVID-19, there’s no telling when the next health crisis could strike.
How can your facility adapt during these unprecedented times?
Create Social Distancing Protocols
Even if it’s a lull period for your building, it’s still important for your employees and tenants to practise social distancing. COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets. These are expelled through coughing, sneezing, or even just talking. The last thing you want is for your facility to be a hotbed of the virus.
Here are social distancing guidelines toconsider:
- Keep every worker and tenant at least 1.5 metres away from each other. The more space in between people, the harder it is for the virus to spread.
- Keep work and break schedules staggered to reduce the number of people in common areas like workstations and breakrooms.
- If workers start showing COVID-19 symptoms, like fever, dry cough and fatigue, have them quarantine themselves at home. The Department of Health’s recommended quarantine period is 14 days. If possible, provide paid sick days and sponsor their possible screening.
- Promote frequent handwashing for workers. Incentivise this by providing a constant stock of hand soap and paper towels in handwashing stations. Post the World Health Organization’s handwashing guide as well for easy reference. Provide a supply of alcohol-based hand sanitiser at your front desk as well for quick hand disinfection.
Take Advantage of the Low Period for Upgrades and Inspections
Now that your building is nearly empty, set some of your systems, like HVAC, lighting and water heating, to low power or load because this should cut your energy bills. Then inspect your building’s operations to find probable issues that need special attention. Maybe you need to replace some stainless steel pipe fittings to stop leakages in some areas of your property.
You could also make upgrades, like replacing your air-conditioning units and heaters, that you couldn’t schedule when your building was packed.
Now that there are fewer people in the building, it’s more important than ever to keep your emergency systems maintained and updated. You need robust fire detection sensors and security cameras to ensure that hidden areas in your building get immediate attention, in case of emergency.
Get Up to Speed With the Latest Sanitation Practices
Apart from human-to-human transmission, the virus can also spread through surfaces. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can last hours or even days on surfaces, according to international researchers. Fortunately, transmission through surfaces can be minimised through routine cleaning and disinfection. It’s essential to sanitise surfaces that employees and tenants frequently interact with.
Safe Work Australia recommends doing the following when sanitising surfaces:
- Clean dirt and soil off surfaces with detergent or soap before disinfecting them. This is because dirt may interfere with the disinfectant’s ability to sanitise the surface.
- Use complete personal protective equipment, like masks and face shields, goggles and gloves while cleaning. Wash reusable ones thoroughly after use.
- The best disinfectants to use are 70 per cent alcohol solutions. If not available, chlorine bleach diluted in water should suffice. Let the disinfectants stay on the surface for the manufacturers’ recommended amount of time. If this is not indicated, around 15 to 20 minutes should suffice.
- When it comes to soft surfaces, read the manual or communicate with the manufacturer on the best method of cleaning them. Regular detergent should be enough for most fabrics.
Facilities managers like you have been through a variety of health crises, but none of them has been as difficult to deal with as COVID-19 so far. Use these suggestions to keep your building safe throughout this pandemic and possibly, the next one. With a good emergency response plan, you’ll be able to keep your facility safe and functional enough to weather any health crisis.