Crisis in Facilities Management: Biggest Insights From the COVID-19

Overcoming a crisis in facilities management takes careful planning and consideration of countless outcomes. The COVID-19 crisis highlighted the need for facilities management despite what new disruption arises. As reported by Facility Executive, “Without the hard work of facilities’ essential workers, a return to some semblance of normal work life before COVID-19 would be unattainable. However, due to the behind-the-scenes of facility managers, returning to an office, in-person shopping and other public activities will be possible. Although it will likely be some time before this happens, essential facility management teams are busy ensuring that spaces will be ready when the moment comes.” 

Maintaining proper maintenance and management throughout this disruption also paved the way for some of the biggest insights in how teams can better together during such times. 

Clear, Proactive, and Concise Communications Are Essential to Managing a Crisis

The first step to managing any crisis in facilities management must always be the same; facility managers must provide clear, proactive, and concise communications. Concise communications eliminate all ambiguity and ensure everything stays on track. This is especially important during pandemics and other health -related disruptions. Failure to power the processes in place to enable clear communications will literally cost lives.

Traditional Guidelines Are Always Subject to New Expert Guidance

Traditional guidelines always tried to reflect the latest expert guidance. However, sudden disruptions and major events affecting facilities management, comparable to COVID-19, will be subject to rapid changes. In fact, the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) began issuing new recommendations on how to approach healthcare facilities management amid the COVID-19 crisis in late February, reports Health Facilities Management magazine. Moreover, the organization recommends all health facility managers, as well as facility managers and other industries, follow all expert guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FDA, the World Health Organization, and the National Institutes of Health.

Managing Service Providers Must Take a Much More Traceable Characteristic

During major crises like the pandemic, all events occurring within the realm of facility managers must be even more traceable than typical. Traceability has always been a need for facility management, but when a pandemic occurs, this level traceability is essential to the vital role of contact tracing in reducing the spread of the pandemic. As a result, facility managers need to improve their tracking of who visits facilities, when, why, and how long they were in contact with other members of the team or possible customers to that organization or building. Similarly, physical security must take a priority during a crisis in facilities management. This may be as simple as increasing the number of on-site security personnel, but it should also consider possible influences affecting the well-being of guests. For example, disruptive building occupants and those refusing to follow appropriate guidelines and recommendations, if not state ordered mandates, may require removal from the ground, up to and including the notification of proper authorities to complete such removal.

Collaboration With a Multi-Disciplinary Team Is Crucial

Working with a multidisciplinary team is another crucial aspect of managing a crisis in facilities management. Only by working beyond the facilities management department can staff members fully understand how facility management staff could affect the well-being and health of building occupants and other staff members. Furthermore, the multidisciplinary team can help the facility management team identify potential sources of contamination and other risks that may worsen the crisis. This naturally leads into the next key insight gained from the COVID-19 pandemic, which surrounds the ability to look at current and future disruptions and plan accordingly.

Overcome the Current and Next Crisis in Facilities Management With the Right Partner

No facility manager wants to be faced with the challenges of the pandemic. Unfortunately, that is the reality for facilities management in 2020. Going forward, facility managers need to seriously rethink their strategies and improve operations management to handle virtually any disruption, including those deemed unlikely to occur. Fortunately, those that select the right facilities management partner, with a thoroughly vetted, national network of field service vendors, can handle the sudden changes in workload and demand when such a crisis in facilities management occurs.

J Glasglow, MCR

J Glasglow, MCR

As Senior Vice President of Solutions Development for Cushman & Wakefield Global Occupier Services, J Glasgow partners with corporate occupiers of real estate to develop integrated real estate, facility, project and operational management programs designed to improve processes, manage risk while significantly reducing total cost of occupancy. J’s background includes more than 20 years of experience in diverse commercial and corporate real estate disciplines such as, account leadership, and management, facility and operational planning, project management and strategic portfolio optimization. J has advised global clients from a broad range of market sectors encompassing financial, insurance, healthcare, bio-science, engineering, and consumer goods companies that encompass, office, industrial and manufacturing portfolios. With a diverse background in corporate real estate planning, facility management and project management, J has leveraged savings for his clients of over $313 million dollars while aligning with their overall business strategy and mission.