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Facilities Management

FM rises to the Covid-19 challenge

As we approach World FM Day (13 May), Sodexo’s director of FM, Mike Grimmel, shares his thoughts on how the Covid-19 crisis has shone a light on the FM industry.

Mike GrimmelIf there was ever a time to celebrate the role of facilities management professionals, it’s now. 

World FM Day shines a spotlight on our industry every year, but this year the coronavirus pandemic has done that in a way that none of us in the industry could have imagined.  

Cleaners who may previously have worked out of office hours in some sectors are now expected to be seen throughout the day, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces to prevent the spread of the virus.  

And as many of our clients closed their doors, preparing buildings for low or no occupancy required our FM experts to quickly spring into action to make sure this was done in a safe, compliant way and which allows for the rapid remobilisation when the time comes.  

For sites that have all or most of their employees working from home, our teams had to establish whether our clients needed caretaker maintenance, decommissioning or mothballing, all of which have very different requirements and regulations.  

Many have required a caretaker service, meaning that our teams are looking after the building services so that it can be readily recommissioned when the building becomes occupied.  

This  includes ensuring that fire detection and protection are active and maintained, and that water is regularly drawn so that it doesn’t become a legionella risk and so that water traps in drainage systems don’t start to release foul fumes into the office.  

Of course, safety regulations and requirements don’t become redundant just because the building isn’t being used temporarily, and nor should they. We’ve also had to consider the health and safety of security or other staff who may still be in the buildings, ensuring that emergency lighting and passenger lifts are maintained. It is not the case that an unoccupied building requires no maintenance or statutory inspections.  

Alongside preparing sites for low or no occupancy, we have also been busy preparing for re-occupancy.  

While we don’t know exactly when sites will be fully operational again, we do know that the workplace, and the associated demands of facilities managers, will be very different when they do.  

Temperature checking at entrances, preventive disinfection cleaning and changes to office layouts to support social distancing are just some of the measures we are now supporting clients with.  

At Sodexo, we provide a vast range of facilities management services, and we have had to adapt our business at pace to the very different demands that the coronavirus crisis has presented, whether through supporting clients with their new workplace requirements, or working with the government to provide the infrastructure build, estates management, security, cleaning, and waste management at many of the rapid testing centres that have opened across the country.  

As the world starts to return work and establish a new normal, I am proud of the leading role that FM is playing in ensuring the health, wellbeing and safety of people as well as in planning for the new, post-Covid-19 workplace of the future.  

May 11, 2020

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