Futuristic Trends in Integrated Facilities Management in the Post-COVID-19 Era
Health & Wellness will assume greater significance in the times to come. Workplace Wellbeing will no longer be a good-to-have element, instead it will become a must-have in the post-COVID world.
As the world grappled with an economic slowdown in 2019 that threatened to flare up into a full blown recession, organizations still had no clue that the worst was yet to come in the form of pandemic COVID 19. With the contagion wreaking havoc in early 2020, workplaces had to be shut down; employees had to retreat to their own homes to work remotely wherever possible. Lockdown was imposed at most places across the world, including India, in order to control the pandemic and prevent loss of lives. However, with a better understanding of the contagion today, organizations are slowly moving towards reopening their offices, while adhering to the strict government regulations of safety and hygiene. Interestingly, this is also putting organizations in a Catch-22 situation.
Employee experience being on top of every organizational agenda, businesses want to ensure that employees feel safe and protected in the workplace; and yet the cost of refurbishing the workplace to match stringent social distancing norms along with high hygiene standards seems formidable. Therefore, the need is for a holistic solution that can address all the workplace requirements while keeping the cost under check. This is where veteran Integrated Facilities Management (IFM) service providers can step in. With a global footprint, IFM companies are implementing learnings from the other Asian and European countries ahead of the curve in handling the COVID situation – introducing best practices, technology and innovative solutions at competitive prices to meet the current and future workplace challenges.
What can be the possible solutions?
Since ‘touch’ is the primary factor that allows the pandemic to spread, the most important consideration would be to make all touchpoints contactless. It can begin in the entry area itself where employees and visitors have to authenticate their identities to be allowed inside. Digital entry could facilitate this. Sensor-based washrooms can be implemented where the alarm goes off to intimate cleaning, replenishing handwash, etc. Sensors to provide need-based water flow in basins, thermal drying, paper napkin and towel dispenser, etc will help to automate most systems so that human contact is minimized. The cafeteria is another location where digital ordering, boxed meals and virtual card payments can be of great help.
Cleanliness and hygiene in the workplace is another major area that needs due consideration for the safety of all staff. While frequent cleaning in general will be in demand, the pandemic has focused attention on the importance of free and fresh air flow in the work areas. Most large scale organizations are dependent on the HVAC system that uses ducts for providing heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Focus will be on improving the air quality of HVAC systems by disinfecting using UV technology.
A great deal of thought has to be put in towards infrastructural overhauling of the workplace too. Facial recognition thermal cameras can be installed at the entry point and across the workplace to identify and detect abnormally high temperatures in facilities dealing with large number of people. The layout of the work area, washrooms, cafeteria, on-site kitchen and even the concierge services should support social distancing. Fixtures such as sneeze guards need to be mandatorily installed between desks in order to protect occupants from respiratory droplets.
Health & Wellness will assume greater significance in the times to come. The physical and mental well-being of every employee will need to be given top priority to ensure high productivity. Workplace Wellbeing will no longer be a good-to-have element, instead it will become a must-have in the post-Covid world. Organizations will increasingly imbibe design-driven, behavioral and technological best practices to establish a healthy, sustainable and human-centric workplace through wellness certifications such as WELL, LEED and Fitwel.
Changing for the better
Change has always been the only constant in life and the world will continue to evolve to find the right solutions. For IFM service providers, it means continually keeping sustainability at the heart of the business operations. Every IFM solution starting from chemicals/methods used for cleaning and disinfection to procurement and supply chain procedures, food production and delivery services and the disposal of waste; all will need to lead towards a sustainable universe. Only then can the world truly experience an enhanced Quality of Life.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house