Published On 06/12/2020 TO Inside Facility Management

How to Navigate 2020

Compass Pointing North

What a year this has been. It seems like an entire lifetime ago when you went to the office every day, handshakes were exchanged generously, no one wore masks and travel was a common practice. However, once COVID-19 spread its way into even the smallest crevices of the world, everything changed, and unless you have a crystal ball or amazing insight, the changes happened quickly, and the impact was felt.

As we enter the mid-year mark of 2020, the changes and stresses do not seem to be lightening up. Whether it’s devastating brush fires, murder hornets, natural disasters including floods, volcanoes and earthquakes, a pandemic, skyrocketing unemployment with millions suffering from financial uncertainty or protests that have brought new light to privilege and racism, 2020 has been full of constant change. You never know what the next day will bring.

So, now that all the scheduled plans have changed and campaign calendars for the year have been reduced to recycling, how can you navigate the year from here?

Be adaptable

If 2020 taught businesses anything, it’s that the ability to change is essential. Businesses that were able to pivot on a dime found new audiences, increased opportunities and potential business successes. The challenges of 2020 have presented golden opportunities for businesses to reimagine relationships with customers and establish new revenue streams or operating procedures to expand the business’s footprint.

77% of businesses are now open in a different capacity

By streamlining operations—and finding out what customers really want — businesses can reduce overhead, introduce new revenue streams, simplify support work, and create more capacity to increase the most profitable aspects of the business.

Health and safety become paramount

Preparing your facility is only the first step. When you welcome occupants back, there will be a dire need to foster trust among employees. Some workers have stated they won’t return to work out of concern for their health and the safety of their families, despite employers’ promises of safe conditions. A Bospar survey shows that employees are most concerned about the health of their facility – 44% are afraid of being exposed to COVID-19 and 28% have concerns that employers won’t make changes to reduce the risk of infection.

As you welcome employees back, you have to make sure to come at it from a human perspective to foster trust. Combine short-term fixes that will instantly boost worker confidence, stagger working hours to reduce the number of staff that are onsite during the day, and as you implement longer-term design upgrades and modifications, be sure to put hygiene at the heart of all your workplace planning.

Establish multiple outlets for communicating.

In the not-so-distant world of 2019, the idea of disinfecting entire facilities only occurred during the peak of flu season. Disinfection was typically focused primarily on restroom and eating areas. Post-COVID-19? That is simply not the case any longer.

74% of workers expect employers to provide gloves, masks and sanitation supplies

Luckily there are disinfection services like PUREClean that recognize this shift and include a multi-step disinfection methodology that can be applied throughout the facility – wherever employees and guests spend their workdays. In addition, PUREClean’s disinfection processes use high-performance commercial equipment and EPA-approved chemicals to remove, capture or destroy viruses like COVID-19 and the flu.

Ensuring the safety of your workforce and protecting their health has been an important shift and may change the definition of “cleaning” forever.

Electronic communications

The pandemic moved many employees out of their office and into their homes. As more staff began working from home, most communications became electronic. The experiences and relationships that were previously built within facilities had to be recreated via text, messenger or webinar. This created quite the learning curve for employees.

In fact, 95% of Gen-Z and 93% of Millennial employees admit they’re having a tough time transitioning to telecommuting. The primary challenge recorded was communication, as almost half of those surveyed claimed “communicating with colleagues has become increasingly more challenging since joining the remote workforce.”

Are facilities and workplaces that important for successful communications and employee engagement?

It does seem that even the generations that tend to be more tech-savvy still find themselves less equipped to navigate the new work environment and miss the community feeling they had only a few months ago.

This struggle may also be at the organization level as well. Management and leaders of staff were used to communicating in person only a few months ago. They may find it hard to change how and when they communicate.

Communicating is rarely easy. And the written word can confuse readers if the recipient infuses the wrong intention. Make sure you communicate often, and create communications that are heart-felt, empathetic and clear. If possible, use video so others can hear the inflection in your voice and see your mannerisms. It will help present the message as it was intended.

Your communications will become even more important as occupants are welcomed back to the facility. Staff will need clear instructions that can be easily followed and strong messaging to help alleviate their fears. Be clear about what your facility is doing to ensure employees return to a safe and healthy facility and explain how you expect staff members to contribute to keeping everyone safe.

Abrupt change will always be an obstacle, so try and provide as much information as possible so employees know what to expect and how things may change over time.

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