5 key considerations for facilities management when reopening a building

The current lockdown means that many workplaces have become vacant again, or at the very least continue to be vastly under-occupied. Though it may feel like a return to normal is a long way off, estate and facilities managers must prepare now for that time.

When the restrictions do ease, a lot of businesses may see a clamour from employees who want to get back to their place of work. This process cannot be rushed and estate managers have a vital role to play in ensuring that a workplace is ready to be occupied again.

There are of course numerous things to consider to get a workplace ready to reopen. Here are five of the most important.

  1. Hygiene
    This may seem obvious, but it’s absolutely critical to stay on top of hygiene. This includes keeping updated with the latest information from the Government and health bodies, as well as implementing strong hygiene processes at a site. Estate managers should act as a key consultant to organisations. Even though we are ten months into the pandemic, it cannot be assumed that all building occupants will know or follow the best hygiene practices, so signage and consistent communication with all occupants is a must.
  2. HVAC
    We know that the virus is increasingly airborne. HVAC systems must be assessed and adapted to ensure that they provide a strong defence against airborne transmission. This can include the type of air filters used, the frequency they are changed and the percentage of outside air pumped into a building. Where possible, windows should be left open to increase ventilation.
  3. Compliance
    Compliance covers everything from fire risk to electrical, and legionella to asbestos. In buildings that have spent any time vacant or with reduced occupancy, it’s highly likely that checks will need to be made before full occupancy to avoid both fines and health and safety breaches. Take water systems, for example. Many are designed under the assumption of regular flushing due to full a site being fully occupied. Times of irregular flushing can provide an opportunity for bacteria to flourish, which in the worst case scenario can lead to an outbreak of legionella. Estate managers should assume nothing is compliant as they prepare a site for reopening.
  4. Asset management
    Even the most up-to-date asset registries will need going over with a fine tooth comb ahead of a building reopening. It’s likely that the condition of many assets will have changed in the last year. For businesses without an understanding of its assets and their condition, this represents an opportune time to carry out an in-depth survey. This will also be an important step in ensuring compliance.
  5. Project management
    The sheer numbers of estate management tasks can be daunting for even the most experienced estate managers, let alone for small and medium sized businesses that may not have the in-house resources to cope. It’s worth partnering with a project manager to handle the process. The expertise is invaluable and any money spend will be made back many times over in workplace optimisation and the avoidance of fines for breaches of compliance.

    The IEM team is here to help you manage your estate. Whether you need a range of services, project management or simply a chat about how to transform your estate into a business enhancer, we can help out. Check out our Five Point Plan or contact us to find out more.
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