While most businesses are closed and many employees are working from home, the buildings that will reopen still demand a certain level of care and attention. Even though the desks are not being used and conference rooms go unoccupied, a building must be well maintained even when vacant to allow it to function properly when activity in the building resumes.
Facility teams have most likely remained onsite to manage the security and upkeep of core and critical assets. This window offers a unique opportunity for companies to focus on preventive maintenance activities. These activities can prevent problems from cropping up once offices reopen and companies welcome employees back into their workplaces. Along with strong health and safety protocols, these activities can also create a safe and healthy workplace for employees while putting them at ease as our society and organizations recover from a pandemic.
So what should hard services teams be focusing on while buildings are largely vacant? Here are a few pointers.
As part of the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cleanliness of your facility is going to be even more important to your employees and visitors. One way to improve the comfort and health of your workforce is to ensure all air handlers are using new air filters with the highest minimum efficiency reporting value rating (MERV) allowed by the manufacturer. This value indicates a filter’s ability to capture larger particles between 0.3 and 10 microns, and the higher the rating, the better the filter is at trapping specific types of particles. Air filters may seem trivial, but if they are neglected, it can result in equipment breakdowns that could impact business activities when your building reopens.
Additionally, check that all air systems are configured correctly and in line with the most recent air balance report for the system.
Lastly, where possible, increase the ratio of outside air circulated into the building. Outside air can help save on energy costs and improve employee productivity. Fresh air is good for us – research shows that spending time in fresh air can increase energy in 90 percent of people.
Attention to air quality is a necessary complement to the sanitizing activities being carried out by facility service providers. Flushing the building with fresh air and ensuring the right humidity will help to reduce the spread of viruses.
Critical asset monitoring
Spaces and systems such as data centers, server rooms, UPS systems, DG sets and control panels are vital to the people in the building and the building itself. The systems allow many to stay connected, so keeping them maintained is very important, especially when so many rely on them while working remotely.
Deferred and planned maintenance
Many of us at home are at the point in our own social distancing experience that we are tackling projects that we have put off for years – organizing the pantry or closet, cleaning out that junk drawer, cleaning those hard-to-reach areas of the house. The same goes for your building. Most sites have a list of deferred or lower-priority activities that are delayed or skipped during normal business operations. This is a great time to attack these work orders. This may include cleaning hard-to-reach filters and valves or descaling the cooling tower.
Even if facility teams may be working on projects that they haven’t had the time to do before, they must still continue to take care of the planned maintenance of assets to ensure they do not fall behind.
Completing deferred activities and staying committed to the planned maintenance schedule will allow teams to be efficient and improve their ability to be reactive in a climate that will likely bring unforeseen challenges.
This is a great time to look at ways to implement sustainability upgrades to the workplace that will benefit the building and end users. An example could be upgrading the lighting. Without employees in the office, this is a great opportunity to replace out-of-date or inefficient light bulbs.
Re-lamping and other energy-saving innovations will decrease spend at a time when the cost to keep our people safe will likely increase. Cost neutrality will be a target of facility managers, and many companies will welcome this kind of offsetting.
Though your workplace may be currently empty, there is plenty that can be done to ensure your building is functioning properly and prepared to welcome employees back when the time comes.
When your workplace opens and employees venture back into the office, let them know what maintenance activities have been completed. By communicating your building activities and improvements, you can offer employees and visitors peace of mind.
Learn more about ISS and our technical services solutions in our recent blog Drive workplace efficiencies with a technical services solution.