The ‘New Normal’ has brought with it a host of challenges. As waves of the pandemic continue to surge at periodic intervals; buildings, offices, warehouses, retail stores, and manufacturing facilities are yet to get back to business fully. However, essential services like healthcare, utilities, transportation, manufacturing and ecommerce need to continue to be in operation posing a risk for the employees and customers alike. The facilities management teams are grappling with maintaining the buildings, as there are challenges of decreased revenue from offices not open, and increased risk to their personnel in running facilities of essential services like healthcare.
The facilities management industry has been transforming itself to meet new challenges, like they have done in the past. What started off with automation a few decades back, coupled with efficiency in improvement of processes, evolved into a lot more in the last decade. Energy optimisation, analytics, integration brought in a lot of openness and new standards. The Internet of Things [iOT] also found a place of pride to provide efficient remote services to FMS personnel and has even revolutionised their service offering. It would be justified to say this pandemic has accelerated the next level in FMS with a renewed focus on safety. Safety is all set to dominate every requirement for buildings to get back to business. Safe environments are important and the future of all FMS related offerings.
This comes as no surprise to the community of industry experts, realtors and FMS solution providers as safety has always been an important component in the FMS integrated mix. However, the new rules call for much more than the processes implemented till date. Some of them involve newer approaches to safety design, safety services, safety audits, technology integration and move beyond that into the dimension of innovative integrated safety solutions and services.
Massive changes in technology will throw up the need for professional and trained facilities managers to implement and drive these new initiatives. The FMS industry players who are nimble-footed and bring forward this integration of technology services shall succeed in this new era. The ability to think holistically, implement strategic initiatives, yet be capable of moving quickly to adapt and execute to changes will become critical.
Organisations shall divide jobs that are predominantly work from home or require employees to work from office. This shall create an opportunity for FMS companies to provide technology and services for safety of the employees whether at home, at office or while commuting to work. This has the ability to redefine the contours of the facilities management industry, if it grabs the opportunity to finally grow.
As we look at the lifecycle of people’s safety from a 360º view, the solutions and services shall have to be looked at holistically. Some of these areas are (i) Integrating health parameters like temperature, oxygen levels, cough, etc, for every individual whether at home or office into a single dashboard for its customers (ii) Integrating technology for protection against the virus in employee transportation especially where shared services are used (iii) Build no-touch solutions for using building services like lifts, barriers, screening, etc. (iv) Implementing screening systems that are integrated with government apps that monitor people’s health so that a person at health risk identified at one location can be shared with other locations and authorities (v) Using devices and cameras integrated with thermal sensors for non-contact screening (vi) Implementing a new category of devices for “Viral-Defence” in the premises so that inhabitants can work without fear (vii) Using best practices like circulating more fresh air in the buildings while optimising energy usage by maintain warmer temperatures that still ensure occupant comfort.
Integration of all these data points needs to be brought to the forefront, thereby allowing organisations to make data-driven decisions, probably even in real-time. This shift to real-time data is here to stay and a sign that the FMS industry will rise to the occasion when required and enable businesses to stay in business. The presence of thermal scanners, testing them without contact brings forth the opportunity to filter individuals in spaces and serve that data in real time to the building manager and the government. An app link with the local government’s technology has been mandated across several countries to track and monitor temperature. This need will enter the realm of FMS and help design and maintain a safe environment.
This level of safety monitoring is not limited to the incoming traffic but also individuals who work to keep the building running. As workforce limitation increases with a select percentage of people being allowed to work from office, the strain on the workforce has increased. Thus, it is critical that everyone is kept safe from the transmission of the virus.
A revolutionary product, Shycocan is the world’s first ‘Virus Attenuation Device’ that reduces the indoor transmission of the virus without harming the inhabitants or the environment. The Shycocan is a technological device that attenuates, meaning, disables viruses in the current pandemic, thereby reducing transmission by 99.9%. This has been certified by some of the most stringent laboratories across the world. Each device protects about 1000 square feet of space and multiple devices can be installed to cover larger spaces. This pathbreaking device has low maintenance costs and only consumes power equal to a 40-watt light bulb. Additionally, unlike UV filters, sanitizers, and other methods of sanitisation, it’s completely safe for humans, animals and the environment. But more than anything, it is the only proven technology that can bring business and life back to normal.
While newer technologies emerge, the objective for all of them is pretty clear. They must encourage people to get back to offices and working spaces, restart establishments and drive more business. They have to be reassuring for every employee or walk-in to create this overall change in attitude by replacing fear with assurance.
In conclusion, safety services and solutions shall dominate the focus of the FMS industry as only once the inhabitants feel safe, buildings and businesses will restart. The industry has an opportunity to redefine its scope of work beyond the office building as many job roles convert to work from home, finally expanding the size of the industry. The industry needs to look beyond services only; and offer integrated solutions involving technology and services, as new challenges need to be overcome. Last but not the least, the FMS industry needs to be a torchbearer for implementation of viral-defence devices like Shycocan to ensure buildings are safe again, businesses can be back to normal and the FMS industry can be revived.