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How Facilities Management Adapted During COVID-19

18 March 2021

As we approach a year since the UK entered its first lockdown, how has the facilities management industry supported businesses to adapt and remain safe throughout the pandemic? 

Many industries have had to adapt throughout the pandemic, and with changing government guidelines, facilities management has been integral in ensuring workplaces can both efficiently and safely adjust.

Prior to COVID-19, the FM industry played a key role in ensuring business continuity and compliance in workplaces, but as the pandemic took hold, this role had to quickly adapt to meet the growing need to become compliant with new and ever-changing guidelines.

Jeremy Harrison, Managing Director at MSL Property Care Services, said: “COVID-19 has brought with it many challenges, from empty properties with legionella threats and the need for new security measures, to workplaces and retail stores needing fast layout adaptations to meet social distancing guidelines.”


Drastic Redesign of Spaces


For the industries that have had periods of being open during the pandemic, such as offices, schools, and retail, facilities needed redesigning in line with the government guidelines for social distancing.

Introducing compulsory one-way systems, closing off alternate routes, installing desk and table dividers, as well as removing or repositioning communal equipment, were all essential within the first phases of the pandemic.


Increased Sanitisation


Sanitisation has been crucial to ensuring safety in facilities, and those that have multiple occupants or see high traffic, have had to implement regular sanitisation stations in order to be compliant with government COVID-19 secure guidelines.

In addition, to comply with these same guidelines, facility managers have implemented disciplined cleaning schedules, especially for objects and surfaces that are touched regularly.


hand sanitiser

Picture: a photograph of a person using a touchless hand sanitiser dispenser


Security and Safety Measures


As many businesses closed their doors during the first lockdown, it was imperative security was considered.

Whether it was an investment in new technologies, such as CCTV, alarm and access control systems or roller shutters and hoardings to ensure for the safety of the building and its contents during extended periods of closure.


Air Quality


Whilst air quality has always been important, government guidelines encouraged facilities to carry out ventilation checks before reopening to ensure efficiency levels hadn’t dropped for HVAC systems.

Regular maintenance schedules are needed to comply with this, and many premises required reactive checks before opening their doors again.


Water Systems


One of the biggest concerns for properties left empty for extended periods of time, was the potential for Legionella, a potentially fatal bacteria to form. This can happen in water systems that are left stagnant, and it was vital for these to be checked by experts prior to reopening.

Harrison added “It’s been hugely important throughout the pandemic to be reactive to the changing need of businesses so they can remain compliant and ensure safety for their visitors and employees.

“Facilities management has been at the heart of these changes, and through the next phase of change, I’m sure there will be new and fast demand for different services.”

Moving forward, facilities management will continue to hold an integral role in businesses, adapting and keeping premises safe.

Picture: a photograph of several people in hard hats and face masks

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 18 March 2021


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