Covid-19 has altered nearly every aspect of business – including adding employee concerns and new customer demands. If you pay attention to these shifts in demand, it will help you stay relevant and incorporate changes to maintain trust in today’s challenging environment.
The world looks completely different than it did only six months ago. While there is a strong desire to return to “normal”, when a number of large states had a surge in COVID-19 cases during their reopening, the realization that things were not going back to the way they were became evident.
This has also triggered a change in behaviors from both employees and customers.
Adapting to the new wants and needs of your customers and employees will allow you to evolve to the current world better and improve your standing.
It is evident that the long-term recovery is going to require a shift in mindset. The future is leaning towards digital transformation and building trust by providing cleaner facility structures.
Health and safety are driving decisions
Covid-19 has changed the way we act, interact, market, sell, travel, eat lunch, innovate, and even go to the restroom. Every decision is being influenced by feelings of health and safety.
Feelings of safety come from having enough space for social distancing, requiring employees and customers to wear face covering, eliminating as much personal contact as possible, routinely disinfecting high-touchpoint areas and providing disinfecting supplies so occupants can practice self-disinfecting.
In a recent survey, 99 percent of travelers and 74 percent of diners cited health and safety procedures as one of their top three factors that are influencing their choice of where to spend their money.
Occupants want to feel safe when they are in your facility and need validation that you are using advanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures within your walls.
- Visibly enhance cleaning protocols – show occupants that disinfection is occurring during open hours and share methods of after-hours facility-wide disinfection and cleaning
- Encourage occupants to participate in surveys and share ideas or frustrations with the new updates
- Communicate frequently on the changes designed to keep everyone safe and healthy
- Install sanitation stations and surface dividers
- Create signage that clearly explain changes, including number of occupants per room, one-way corridors, room closures, personnel processes, etc.
Communications affect consumer behavior
Health and safety are at the forefront – but it’s not just creating a healthy and safe environment – it’s the ability to clearly communicate the steps your facility is taking, especially considering the unique circumstances.
- Post regular communications with a predetermined cadence to reach the best results
- Provide information as early as possible to allow time for preparation
- Use technology to help with mass communications
- Set up a single path for communication review and distribution
You may need to work with other key players within your organization so they can help you navigate the best response and help you build a reasonable communications plan that balances safety concerns, company, local and federal policies and constraints. Effective communications will need to meet the overall needs of the organization while empathizing with your audience.
Your communications should address three key areas:
People – Keeping a healthy facility is a team goal and reducing the spread COVID-19 is the job of everyone, not just facility managers and cleaning staff, so it is important to gain the participation from everyone.
Place – Maintaining a healthy facility will include your ability to focus on cleaning for health and making sure high-touch areas are disinfected while also removing access to areas of the building that may gather crowds.
Process – The old way of doing things will no longer work, you’ll need to rework the operation’s scope of work (SOW) so that the sanitizing and disinfection occurs in the most important areas while addressing aspects of risk management, policies and procedures, measurement, monitoring and resource management.
It's a big job
Your strategic response will need to combine the thoughts and strategies of many departments outside of the normal “facilities operations bubble”. While the procedures you develop may seem necessary, they should play a role in the organization’s high-level strategy as well.
Beyond strategy, keeping your facility clean, disinfected, spaced appropriately, technologically updated, and staying on top of policy changes may prove to be too big of a job.
In many facilities, outsourcing maintenance and engineering activities may now be considered a more practical option. It allows you to strike a balance between cost and service to optimize operations.
When successful, you can reduce maintenance expenses by employing a contractor with more expertise and skills than in-house resources can provide.
- Commit to a strategic relationship within a partnership
- Promote resource utilization and process improvements
- Complete facilities readiness assessments with the building’s operations
- Follow the strictest of procedures and industry protocols when handling everything from the lighting of the space to the security, HVAC, and janitorial operations
- Receive a thorough assessment of what is currently available and needed in a building
- Ensure protocols, building rules and regulations are upheld
- Encourage energy efficiency, major system upgrades and sustainable operations for a more productive and safer environment for all occupants of a building