Facility managers poised for a clean sweep

Facility managers poised for a clean sweep

Photo: For representational purpose The pandemic has had a mixed impact on the facility management (FM) industry. On the one hand, the sector has seen “a slight decrease in manpower requirements,” to quote Pradeep Lala, MD & CEO, Embassy Services. ...

Photo: For representational purpose The pandemic has had a mixed impact on the facility management (FM) industry. On the one hand, the sector has seen “a slight decrease in manpower requirements,” to quote Pradeep Lala, MD & CEO, Embassy Services. “During the initial complete lockdown we saw a dip in demand,” says Captain Rajesh Sharma, Managing Director, Integrated Facilities Management & Asset Services, Cushman & Wakefield. This loss happened because “demand for FM services has slowed in the hotel, retail and IT sectors,” as per Ashutosh Jha, Managing Director, Orion Security Solutions. On the other hand, as a result of the pandemic, “the world has realised the importance of a professional FM provider,” continued Lala. During the lockdown, “business supporting service industries such as banking, hospitals, media, and information technology have mostly stayed functional during the lockdown, and needed onsite cleaning, disinfection, and sanitation,” says Deepak Shanbhag, CEO, PSIPL. Consequently, demand has increased for some FM services. “JLL has seen demand increase for workplace sanitisation, occupancy planning, re-entry consulting and mobile engineering services,” says Ajit Kumar, Executive Director, JLL India. As businesses began to restart we saw a definite move towards more established and renowned FM service providers with expertise, access to latest technologies and the ability to implement global safe environment best practices, says Captain Sharma. “Some businesses with in-house FM teams started to outsource their FM operations to lower costs as well as access the expertise and technologies needed to combat Covid-19.” Of late, Orion has “acquired smaller FM businesses that faced acute manpower shortages, to ensure their customers faced no service disruption, and has been signed on for extensive FM services by customers that initially hired the company only for de-sanitisation services,” shares Jha. Looking to the future, Lala is optimistic about the overall demand for FM services, especially demand from commercial buildings, IT parks, co-working and warehousing segments. The price of safe premises Cleanliness provides [building] users an enhanced visual appeal as well as a positive, productivity-enhancing workplace experience. However, the pandemic has increased the expectations of all kinds of users from the spaces they occupy—offices, residences, retail outlets, and industries, says Kumar. Cleanliness now is taken to mean sanitised, safe areas. JLL’s cleaning protocols differ for different uses, such as deep cleaning before occupancy; ongoing cleaning focused on high risk contamination zones; cleaning, awareness and re-routing of high-traffic areas; and reactive and decontamination cleaning (in the event space has been exposed to a suspected or confirmed case). More vigorous cleaning has necessitates the use of enhanced chemicals for reactive/proactive cleaning, says Kumar. This has caused some minor rate variations in the prices of its services. Higher cleaning agents include Virex-II-256, Avert Plus chemicals, Oxivir and sodium hypochlorite, shares Jha. At Embassy Services, as well, the need for more specialised services and chemicals such as Virex- II-256, sodium hypochlorite, Pursue and Lysol solution which have proven highly effective against viruses has necessitated a slight increase in pricing, says Lala. At Cushman & Wakefield, regular training and briefing of human resources on safety measures to prevent transmission and the cost of sanitisation materials, PPE kits and some automated equipment and technology has affected the pricing, shares Captain Sharma. With reduced footfalls the manpower requirement at sites has reduced but simultaneously the cost per person has increased. Trends in FM services Some providers have needed to make stay arrangements for blue-collared staff in client premises because of the absence of public transport and for safety considerations. PSIPL has done this. Also, “since the company is working with fewer people, employees are multitasking to provide all the essential services,” shares Shanbhag. At JLL, government directives have been supplemented with best practices gathered through its facilities management subject matter experts. We have developed country-specific protocols for the management of facilities, according to usage or based on incidents,” explains Jha. For instance, India-specific features include the implementation of Arogya Setu as a mandatory requirement for coming to office, partitions in cabs to segregate the driver from the user, etc. In future, Shanbhag foresees the greater use of IoT and app-enabled technologies in the overall delivery of FM services while monitoring staff wellbeing; tracking the use of energy, water and other resources and the uptime of utilities; managing the workplace ambience by offering optimal space management, air-quality index, etc. “App-based technology is already becoming the sole channel for complaint management and multi-location service operations,” he says. Responsive, extensive services would be good for customers. Three-step facility management routine for offices, public transport BVG India is a facility management company with around 750 customers across India, including prestigious buildings such as the Prime Minister’s house and office, Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Parliament House, Supreme Court, the offices and factory of Mercedes Benz, Tata Motors, Cummins and SBI; designated Covid-care hospitals such as AIIMS-Delhi, AIIMS-Raipur, Safdarjung, PGI-Rohtak, YCM-Pune, Max Hospitals; and transportation providers like the Delhi Transport Corporation and the emergency ambulance services in Maharashtra, Jammu and Ladakh. “In the buildings as well as the vehicles we service, BVG India follows a three-step facility management routine spanning regular dusting and cleaning, spray sanitization, and the disinfection of touch points like door handles and railings,” shares Hanmantrao Gaikwad, Chairman and Managing Director, BVG India. “As against pre-Covid times, the frequency and depth of cleaning has increased, as well as the quality and type of chemicals used has changed.” Beyond this standard three-step process, some high-end services on offer are dry steam sanitisation which is suited to equipment and floors, negative ion generation which is suited to closed rooms (Oyo has recommended this to its chain), the use of hospital-grade chemicals for sanitisation, the deep disinfection of touch points, and periodical preventive sanitisation. What is the ideal frequency of cleaning? The frequency of sanitisation and the timing is an aspect businesses will decide based on their need and convenience. “Some businesses opt for daily, weekly, or even monthly cleaning,” says Ashutosh Jha, Managing Director, Orion Security Solutions. “Mostly, sanitisation happens during week-ends although some opt for early morning cleaning.” In a four-acre residential complex in Gurgaon with 12 towers of nine-storeys each, four units per floor, and 45-50 standalone villas, Orion Security Solutions has increased the frequency of cleaning smaller common areas such as landings, staircases, lifts, alleys, etc. from twice a day to hourly, with a special focus on high use surfaces like door handles, elevator buttons, etc. Orion sought government assistance for the sanitisation of larger common areas such as parks, walkways and roads by means of heavier equipment. Other common access areas such as gyms, swimming pools, play areas, religious congregation areas and social activity areas were closed. Appropriate signage was put up to remind the public of their “duty of care” in common access areas. Trainers made residents aware of precautions to take and were engaged in tool-box talks with Orion’s employees. Guests and workers were subjected to thermal checks. Workers were instructed, inspected and audited for the use of personal protective gear. Most occupants demanded less manpower as a matter of precaution as the manpower came from areas outside the complex. Taking hospital safety to a new level In a 400-bed hospital in Pune, as for other clients, PSIPL has introduced new safety standards to protect patients and employees, as well as its workforce on the frontline. “Protecting our people is vital to maintain business continuity,” says Deepak Shanbhag, CEO, PSIPL. A daily update call on the Covid-19 status is part of the standard operating procedure as is occupant and visitor tracking and reporting. PSIPL has increased the frequency of cleaning of common areas and touch points. It has laid down cleaning methods for different surfaces. It has replaced conventional acid-based cleaning materials with JD Taski R series cleaning chemicals for being less acidic and hence less wearisome on surfaces. It has encouraged the installation of touchless taps and soap dispensers by putting the client in touch with vendors and assisting site execution. Additionally, the company strictly adheres to the government’s hygiene guidelines, including social distancing, limiting person-to-person interaction, and screening with infra-red thermometers. Re-entry services and planning for businesses Companies looking to restart their operations mainly need fumigation and disinfection services, frequently for common access points such as lifts, lobbies, knobs, railings, etc.; assistance with compliance and EHS management; contactless thermal screening devices to ensure security and surveillance protocols; drone disinfection services to fumigate larger areas as in IT campuses, common public zones and hard to access areas; and most importantly, guidance on business continuity, says Pradeep Lala, MD & CEO, Embassy Services. “Re-entry planning includes modifying workspaces to ensure adherence to social distancing and other protocols defined by the Government of India and its ministries,” explains Ajit Kumar, Executive Director, JLL India. JLL has recently completed re-entry planning for a Bengaluru-based IT company occupying about half a million square feet in a single building. Several large IT/ITES firms have availed of this service, which includes entry and exit at the front office, sanitisation stations, markings to ensure social distancing and the deployment of touchless technologies. Building users are made aware of these steps taken to ensure a safe workplace by means of a video. Workplace sanitisation is done on a need basis and tends to catch up closer to the reopening of the offices.

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