COVID-19 has changed the way many companies and organizations operate, causing revisions in their facilities maintenance and financial planning around an uncertain future. Here’s what three industry experts are saying about facility preparedness and company budgets amidst COVID-19.
Meet the Experts:
Executive in Residence, Phoenix Energy Technologies
Nurse practitioner, silicon valley
president, ontrack workplace
What effect do you anticipate the COVID-19 pandemic will have on organizations' ability to maintain their facilities?
Ron Rau (Phoenix Energy Tech.): “There are two areas that will definitely be the focus for organizations:
Sanitization and touchless shopping. Barriers have been installed and wipe downs are occurring regularly. The challenge is still touching doors, key pads, and items that others have touched and put back on shelves. Proper sanitization of the suites will need to be performed regularly which has not been the case in the past and devices to reduce contact with high touch items will be brought into the thought process. Even though data shows the virus isn't spread this way, no one is taking chances.
Indoor air quality which you cannot see but you can feel. How you are maintaining your HVAC equipment, outdoor fresh air injection, measuring CO2, humidity levels, and efficiency of your equipment will be at the forefront. The last thing you want will be for people to get the virus because you did not maintain your air quality in the site. The potential need for different filtration, adding or updating controls, etc. will affect budgeting. Finding ways to save in other areas will be a major concern to keep your profits where they need to be.”
Jimmy Engelman (OnTrack): “It will require employers to be more proactive, responsible and transparent when it comes to maintaining their organization. This means the implementation of improved policies and tools that are aimed specifically to the wellbeing of everyone in a facility. Facilities will need to be environments where employees and staff can communicate safely, access wellness data, and effectively track their organization's health and safety measures. This means more transparency when it comes to communication, and accessibility to tools that allow employees to be informed and take part in a thriving environment.”
We are seeing budget deficits across companies of all sizes and industries. What kind of ripple effect do you anticipate this having on organizations' budget planning now and in the future?
Jimmy Engelman (OnTrack): “Companies will need to rely on data that will allow them to cut traditional expenditures and wasted labor hours and replace it with technology that allows them to be more efficient and cost effective. While it would be an initial investment to implement technology which most likely was not in the budget prior to COVID-19, it will be essential for employers to adopt a sustainable way to reduce their overall budget as we move into the future.
With the unknown of what the future holds in regard to reducing labor and furloughing employees, technology is a great way for companies to create consistent procedures and not rely on individual knowledge and turnover of employees. The goal is not to replace good workers, it is a way to give them a tool to be better and stabilize the operation. Technology provides a standardized way for companies to own their process and data and without having to rely on expensive labor costs.”
Ron Rau (Phoenix Energy Tech.): “I believe there will be compliance standards placed on indoor air quality that will be at the forefront of budgeting. If that does not happen then I believe that you will need to look at HVAC and cleaning as non-negotiable, which puts burden on the rest of the budget, just like safety and security related budgets are based today.
Minimum air quality standards today will be raised as they do not come close to optimal, so you will see those change. There will be more focus on the health performance indicators being maintained and complimenting with onsite. To be able to ensure comfort and safety of associates and customers which offset potential OSHA issues and/or customer, complaints will need to be thought about as well. You must be aligning what the issues specific to COVID-19 are to keep your customers and associates supporting the Brand.”
How can facility teams ensure they keep facilities running in a post-COVID world?
Barb Dehn (Nurse Practitioner): “If we’ve learned one thing in the last four months it is that the world is changing and there is no roadmap. Keeping up to date to keep employees safe, businesses and facilities productive and profitable has never been more challenging. And yet, business can learn from tried and true infection control procedures that have protected people for decades.
Every business is unique, and the way forward can be tailored to the specific needs of the company. When I work with facility managers, it's understood that infection control is a new topic and not every business has the luxury of having a medical person available for consults. Because of my work explaining complex health and medical information on TV, what I like to do is provide the scientific, evidence based, unbiased information about COVID’s transmission, incubation, infection, symptoms, asymptomatic shedding, why masks, social distancing, hand washing and disinfection works, as well as long-term effects to a business when people become ill."
Jimmy Engelman (OnTrack): “It really comes down to tracking and tracing employees and individuals who enter any facility. Knowing who is coming and going, understanding if they are cleared as a healthy worker or visitor, and managing communications in order to mitigate exposure and risks. Within the facility, it will be important to have an accountability tool for the teams that are maintaining the cleanliness of that facility and the wellness of everyone within. Digitizing the cleaning and screening process will be crucial to opening facilities and reducing liabilities.”
Ron Rau (Phoenix Energy Tech.): “You need to be well informed in the standards that need to be maintained and what customers and associates are telling you to make them feel safe. Being able to understand the data of how your facility is performing is a must so that you can react to any deficiencies, and prove your facilities health will be critical. The ability to remote monitor to take immediate action will be critical as well.
If you are having professional cleaning done, be sure to communicate the types of machines and chemicals that your third-party cleaning services should use and what hours they should complete these tasks, and verify the accuracy of their work. This will help ensure vendors are not taking shortcuts and you are in compliance inside the facility. On HVAC, you should have a survey to be performed on at least every PM with strategic photos assessing equipment before and work performed.”
We've Got You
To prepare for the the present and the future during COVID-19, facility teams and executives need consistent access to facility data to ensure health and transparency amongst customers and employees. At AkitaBox we've been hard at work with our AkitaBox Deep Clean Assurance and AkitaBox Capital Management products to help ease the stress of facility preparedness and budgets amidst the pandemic.
AkitaBox Deep Clean Assurance: Bring peace of mind to your occupants through a dedicated cleaning and disinfection software solution. AkitaBox allows you to quickly implement automated and defined cleaning processes that are driven by CDC and EPA guidelines. Upon completion of cleaning rounds you can print and share an assurance certificate, highlighting the steps taken to eliminate the spread of infectious disease such as COVID-19.
AkitaBox Capital Management: Powered by RSMeans data from Gordian, you receive automated suggestions on upcoming major repairs and replacements making it easier to manage capital budget deficits. Get access to real-time condition, risk and cost data to make more strategic capital planning decisions. Clear, visual reporting tools allow you to communicate facility capital budget needs more effectively and avoid financial surprises.