Haraprasad Panda, Kapston Facilities Management

Haraprasad Panda, Kapston Facilities Management

The pandemic has had a significant impact on all aspects of people's lives with more than 2 billion across the world now living under different stages of lockdown. The short-term human and economic impact is undeniable as people stay home, offices, and shops close, and production stalls, which has a direct and indirect impact on CRE & FM Industry at large. The level of uncertainty in the economy is currently at an all-time high with the trajectory of the recovery difficult to forecast. India as a country is no exception but the proactive steps taken by the Central Government, State Governments, various institutions, and moreover the citizens of India too have been commendable. As we get ready to ‘Unlock’ the economy with fewer restrictions, service delivery has not been impacted much, as timely action has been taken at various levels by allowing the essential services like FM, security, data centre, etc; enforcing Work from Home and many more. It’s a time taking process to normalise, but looking at the trend it will take another 6-12 months time in India to ensure BAU. Business leaders of various organisations, forecasted that initial operations will start with 20% strength from FY Q3 onwards and gradually increase to 80% in the next 6-9 months’ time. Few of the organisations have declared WFM till June-2021 also.

Organisations have already started operations with essential services like IT, human resources, CRE, facilities, procurement and contact centre teams, who support other teams remotely and accommodate the critical staff who still remain in the office. These teams are challenged with the logistics planning and implementing new ways of working that balance business continuity with employee safety for now, and in the days to come. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new and incredible challenges for millions of workers around the globe. In just a matter of weeks, the workforce at large has quickly and strategically navigated the sudden shift to remote working, while maintaining the symbiotic relationship between business continuity and employee well-being. Though each organisation has different strategies to welcome the teams back in the office, few of the common practices followed are:
1) Identifying essential services, so that the rest can work from home,
2) Mandating proper screening at the entrance
3) Scheduling alternate working days to ensure only 50% are present, thereby enabling social distancing practice,
4) Reconsidering the use of free seating areas and tracking who sits where, for proper identification
5) Designating isolation rooms
6) Planning and communicating appropriate cleaning and disinfecting schedules and
7) Identifying an emergency response team and contentious engagement with the employees.

The mass adoption of remote-working technology through the pandemic phase has been increased to all-time high. This will also open the door for the fourth Industrial Revolution, including more emphasis on robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data Analytics, and unmanned vehicles. The automation work done today will pave the way for a better future. The healthcare industry is quickly implementing new technology to better support their personnel, governments streamlining their unemployment systems to care for their citizens, and banks processing small business loans in record time. In the real estate sector also, we have seen that the pandemic has accelerated some trends already in evidence, whereas other trends may reverse. For example, demand for online shopping has increased and will likely continue, while the ongoing trend for the densification of work and living space is now under scrutiny.

Suddenly, there’s war-like situation at every front for an organization -- whether it’s employee safety or BAU for the client or collating information from supply chain and manufacturing units or managing March-end compliance pressure or overseeing cash flow, which had been hit hard by low collections and many more. However uncertain the times are, safety of the workforce and business continuity are two of the biggest challenge during this period. As the pandemic resets major work trends, more than 30% of organisations are now replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure thus outsourcing, staffing solution businesses will have the upper hand for the days to come. Apart from contingent worker expansion, there are few more major changes that industry will explore -- like increase in organization complexity, the transition from designing for efficiency to designing for resilience, expanded employer role as a social safety net, separation of critical skills and roles, and increase in remote working.

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