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Strategies for reoccupying buildings safely, e-book from FMLink

A Facilities Manager’s Guide to Reopening and Occupying Buildings Safely is a new e-book that presents a holistic approach so that the facilities manager (FM) can identify the best strategy for each organization, tailored to its specific buildings. Instead of focusing on how to prepare each component of a building for re-occupancy, it enables the FM to understand the underlying principles and identify what considerations must be made and then how to go about doing them. It was written by Peter S. Kimmel, AIA, IFMA Fellow, an established expert in the field of facilities management and Publisher of FMLink.

Kimmel wrote the e-book to help building and facilities managers start the process of reopening buildings that were closed or sparsely occupied during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown and to get them back to functioning safely for their occupants. The e-book is published by FMLink, the online magazine for facilities managers.

The buildings of Boston, Mass. Photo by unsplash Alice Donovan Rouse

“FMs are being told by the C-Suite that they have to implement the Phase One preparation and cleaning efforts within their budget,” says Kimmel. ” The dilemma is that the FM must convince the C-Suite to look at this from a health and safety standpoint and not as an economic driver for the company. This means that to achieve everything the company must do to ensure a safe workplace, the release of a new product or service may need to be delayed while they redeploy funds to protect the people and maintain a safe workplace. ”

Kimmel also believes that FM needs an airtight plan to present to senior management. “Some will need help, and the good consultants cost money, but their expertise is likely needed to evaluate if the FM team is on track with its workplace plan.”

The Guide communicates a sound understanding of where FMs need to be to reopen, considering strategic and tactical measures. The e-book outlines three strategies, identified in phases
Phase One: The strategy for now, before the building/facility is reoccupied. At this time, there is much to be done to clean and disinfect the building; think about how social distancing will be implemented, procure supplies and different furnishings, and develop new rules and procedures.
Phase Two: The transition strategy, as the building reopens and is repopulated. For those who already have started to repopulate their buildings, this strategy applies as well. It focuses on all the adjustments that still need to be made to get the building to its “new normal.” It also includes an evaluation of the work from home (WFH) experience that staff may have had—that way, should there be another shutdown (from a possible second wave of the pandemic), the company will be prepared.
Phase Three: The strategy for the future, once the building is fully operational. Likely, there will be many differences between the “old normal” and the “new normal.” There probably will be fewer staff; workstations and circulation space will be very different. There will be more video conferences and fewer large meetings, more people will be working from home at least some of the time, and rules and procedures will be very different.

In the next part of the e-book, Kimmel delves into detail for several key aspects of the facility. The purpose is to give the FM specifics about these areas and to convey a grasp of the concept behind the new normal. These are based not only on the author’s vast experience in design and facilities management, but on a wide range of resources ranging from business to facilities management publications. Some of the areas include floor layouts, cleaning and disinfecting, HVAC, working from home, making a workplace safe, and minimizing exposure risks. There also is a section on the rules and guidelines that will need to be modified.

The final section of the e-book identifies more than 60 special resources with links to specific pages that go into detail that some facilities managers will want to access. Each resource includes a descriptive paragraph to make its potential value clear.

Kimmel, a former FM and subject matter expert, believes that by following the strategies identified in this e-book, facilities managers will be able to identify the path that must be taken to reopen their facilities in an effective, cost-efficient manner. “The guide details how buildings reopen in three phases, and I believe that some FMs will be well into the second phase and need to go back and repeat the efforts of Phase One, as more people are added to work places or in the instance of an employee who was in the workplace with Covid-19.”

Building occupancy needs solutions directly tied in to the virus and its effects on employees. The e-book gets into the weeds from how to conduct cleaning to get the building ready to open to modify floor layouts to accommodate new social distancing guidelines to developing a transportation/commuting plan for building staff to looking at working in shifts, teleconferencing and travel, and preparing for a second wave of the pandemic.

The 56-page A Facilities Manager’s Guide to Reopening and Occupying Buildings Safely is available to read or download at no cost from the FMLink website.

Peter S. Kimmel, AIA, IFMA Fellow, a former facilities manager, is Publisher of FMLink, the information-based online magazine for facilities managers. He also is Principal of FM BENCHMARKING, the online benchmarking service for facilities managers. Prior to founding FMLink in 1995, Kimmel was president of his own FM consulting firm for more than 10 years and, before that, had managed facilities in the federal government and in the private sector. He has been awarded the International Facility Management Association’s (IFMA’s) Distinguished Author Award five times.