The Integrated Facility Management industry is an essential services sector that enables business continuity throughout the year as even a single day of stoppage can derail their operational plans, profitability and growth.
During the current pandemic of Covid19 Embassy Services has ensured that their clients’ business deliverables are met while maintaining health, safety and hygiene protocols for our all employees and essential staff both on and off site.
On this front, the company has managed their staff, clients and the business with resilience. Their primary focus as of now has been to ensure business continuity and recovery plans of their clients and explore newer markets that need their expertise.
The world is in an era where health and hygiene of the spaces around us are of paramount importance and Embassy Services aims to leverage on the same. All the precautionary processes, implementation of recommendations from authorities, industry best practices and ongoing monitoring and reporting that have been developed to fight the pandemic will be an essential part of their business and offerings. The world is yet to redefine the status quo of normal, until then, the company shall focus on our core and develop newer tech and innovations for the post pandemic era.
2). How are organizations efficiently planning for the transition back to offices and for the future?
There has certainly been a great disruption in the commercial sector with all organizations trying to explore various work modules and assessing the safe approach for their staff—it could be WFH/Partial or staggered return to office etc. While our essential staff have been working on site since lockdown, our staff from the non-essential services work remotely and report to the facility only when required. On our client front, while few organizations have even declared WFH for the next one year, there are few of our clients who have already resumed work from the facility keeping in track the norms set by statutory bodies. Some are working on a rotational and shift base model, some have decreased their manpower, and some have ventured into co-working spaces, regardless, we as the FM have taken all the necessary precautions and set strict guidelines that will help our clients get back to work with or without a shift in their work model.
Organizations have setup a rule book that addresses the roles and responsibilities of various members involved in a facility such as the FM, the Client, and their employees. These go in depth on preparation of a facility for their employees to safely return to work, the safety and security protocols that need to be followed by all the personnel and the compliance that is required as per the Govt. Authorities. Making checklists and frequent auditing of these processes is also a primary part of the process.
3). What are some of the key measures taken for various safety factors in an office? What are the major modifications in workplace design?
As Facility Managers, we take measures within our own organization just as we do with our clients. There are certain actions which have become a routine part of our functioning as well as our offerings to our clients. Inside the work facility, frequent sanitization, fogging and stringent cleaning measures have been taken for disinfection of a premises. This is done using a range of chemicals and tools that have been designed to cater the current needs. A strict waste management process has been set to ensure proper disposal of medical waste like masks, gloves and PPEs. On the people front, the most effective measure is certainly a WFH, however for those cannot, thermal scanning at the entry, Self-declaration of the personnel’s travel and contact history, restricted entry to visitors and vendor partners, encouraging virtual meetings, wearing of masks at common areas, creation of isolation wards, demarcations for social distancing and provision of sanitizers across the facilities have helped. We have also placed collateral across the facility to reinstate the needs of the hour. A detailed protocol has been developed and shared with all the staff and regular alerts on the latest updates are communicated.
The Workplace design is in a transitionary phase with time being able to set the perfect outlay. Keeping in mind social distancing norms, workspaces have been altered to ensure a minimum of 6 feet distance between 2 employees seated next to each other. We have even converted some of our Manager cabins into Meeting rooms as the number of personnel who can use each room is halved, hence the need for more rooms. We have provided social distancing demarcations across the facility to assist the staff to follow protocol, starting from the elevator to the seating area and cafeteria.
4). What are the key technological innovations and automation systems that are helping companies during this phase?
We take pride in pioneering one of the most innovative tech needed for thermal scanning of personnel entering a facility, The Automated & Contactless Thermal Scanning Device – Assembled by ESPL. This is a system that negates the need for personnel to use a thermo gun and manually enter and report readings. The system uses AI and an Optical Camera with cloud integration, it automatically triggers an alarm through email and shares the photo of an unhealthy personnel entering the facility within a few seconds. This product and its software are completely assembled in India by ESPL.
The Drone Disinfection is another innovation of ours which gained great traction with the BMC Mumbai, to be used for disinfection and fogging of places which are usually inaccessible to us. A demo was done to disinfect mosquito breeding grounds in the Worli area of Mumbai, considering the success, this will be used for various such drives that are required to ensure safety and hygiene of all. An industrial level drone is used to hoist a container carrying disinfection chemicals and sprayed over areas. These drones can fly over 500m high for a period of 12 hours while carrying over 15 liters of disinfectant; they can cover an area of over 50 acres in a single day.
E-Spectrum is our newest array of Digital FM tools that have been designed to address a Technology Integrated Facility Management system, We have customized a set of 12 tools that aid in workforce management, visitor management, raising tickets and complaints, work permits, background verification and attendance, feedback and improvement, inventory management, smart metering, online document processing, audit module and incident report modules. This helps by providing the FM with automation and tech assistance, a paperless ecosystem and most importantly, the ability to manage these functions from anywhere in the globe.
5). What are the most critical challenges in the process and what are the major changes that the industry envisages will define the future of work?
One of the most critical challenge of the hour is Business Continuity. How can we gain maximum productivity despite the given challenges is the fix. The most important aspect is client delivery, ensuring that our commitments are met despite our internal challenges is key. Once this is figured out, the safety and health of the staff who will fulfill this operation; By providing them with the necessary training, tools and safety equipment, this is addressed. Another huge challenge is ensuring compliance of the ever-changing rules and regulations set by the statutory bodies. Since EHS and Compliance is one of our fortes, it makes it easier to execute for ourselves and on behalf of our clients as well. These will need to become an integral part of all organizations going forward also.
The major changes we can see in the future of work is the reassessment of certain aspect of the business such as Business Continuity Plans (BCP), Risk Management, setting up of Environmental Health and Safety teams, an emergency response team and heightened measures of security and compliance. These are challenges that are critical to our future as they certainly ensure our safety and successful operations in a post pandemic era. Keeping these in tact will help us to a great extent god forbid we face such a situation in the future.