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Returning to work – 8 tips to guide property and facility managers

By myfm Business Unit Director, Julian Harrison

Facilities managers, building managers and occupiers are working night and day to prepare for the gradual lifting of lockdown measures and the reopening of many workplaces.

They know all too well that as plans are prepared to get people back to work, there are many issues to consider before buildings can be safely occupied again.

Some of the obvious topics include how and when social distancing measures should be put in place and how this affects occupancy; the best approach to open up buildings which were mothballed in a hurry and what new regimes will need to be put in place to meet new guidance on cleaning or adaptation of HVAC equipment, or some of the other changes.

Turn on any news programme right now and people will probably be talking about how the world has changed beyond belief. But few will actually have to assimilate and deal with the sheer quantity of new guidance which applies to the preparation required to enable building users to return to their workplace.

This is why as the largest specialist FM consultancy and interim management organisation in the UK, myfm decided to pool our collective expertise on building remobilisation and combine this with that of industry associations, government and subject-matter experts. The result is a comprehensive guide which is designed to help our clients prepare their workplaces. We know that myfm does not have all the answers and even if we did, guidance is changing fast. So, the approach we have taken is to signpost to the latest resources available, help with interpretation of these and provide practical advice on the main topics we think most businesses will need to consider, to prepare their buildings as part of a return to work plan.

The Government has placed emphasis on employers and building managers only opening their workplaces when they believe it is safe to do so, based on a thorough Covid-19 risk assessment. Our 8 top tips shared below are to help you get thinking on this:

  1. Appoint a Covid leader, someone who will be responsible for the coordination of all Covid-related activity, as part of the return to work planning process.
  2. Develop site-specific return to work plans which clearly differentiate between the site rules and the guidance available, so this can be easily updated as it changes.
  3. Your return to work plans should have sections on social distancing, hygiene, PPE and communications, also make sure you refer to government guidance where this exists.
  4. Put in place measures to regularly review government guidelines so you can see and apply changes to policies – careful version control is key.
  5. Be systematic in your identification of stakeholder representatives and accountabilities so there is a consistent and compliant approach applied across all building users.
  6. Also be highly systematic in your approach to communication, especially as key people may be working remotely for some time.
  7. Document your decisions so there is a clear audit trail in place which can be reviewed and scrutinised in future.
  8. Plan to include ongoing monitoring and management steps, including the resolution of issues and non-compliance.

The pandemic has forced businesses in all sectors to adapt at an unprecedented rate. As they have responded to the unfolding situation, the strongest are closely examining long-standing business practices and their use of technology, as they consider how they should adapt to meet the challenges faced. Our full guide also has 10 detailed sections which discuss the innovation and many of the common considerations around both soft and hard services, as well as safety management, people and policies, supply chain and contract and commercial considerations.

Through the myfm team and with over 200 professional associates, many actively involved in industry bodies as well as having direct FM experience, we here to help you plan and deliver your return to work strategy. If you would like us to talk you through our Return to Work Guide in full please speak to your existing myfm contact or Mané Lucas – mane.lucas@myfm.co.uk / +44 (0)7956 119054.

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