All Present and Accounted For
Mike Elliott, CEO of IoT platform Over-C, explains how technology which is protecting facilities management staff during Covid-19 serves the dual purpose of safeguarding intellectual property.
A lot has changed over the last five months as a result of Covid-19, from the way businesses operate to the way staff do their everyday jobs. As such, a lot of emphasis has rightly been put on keeping FM employees safe. But what about those contracted members of staff who aren’t directly employed by the company?
For decades the FM industry has supported companies by providing important services such as cleaning, security and other day-to-day operations, with multiple different people coming and going to fulfil their tasks in and around sites.
This was fine when all you needed to know was who was on the site and at what time. Now each third-party person who enters a business site presents a potential risk to the full-time members of staff already working in that building. Whilst businesses can ask FM contractors to abide by certain site rules, their health and wellbeing is solely dependent on the contractor and not the business contracting them.
To overcome this, businesses are having to turn to technology solutions to better monitor who is on their premises and exactly how their staff and FM contractors are interacting with the environment. The following are just some of the ways in which digital technology is helping keep workers in the FM industries safe.
One solution being introduced is a self-declaration method which allows each worker, no matter who employs them, to use their personal phone to complete a digital Covid-19 self-declaration form and complete an infrared temperature reading The readings are then assessed based on a risk factor such as a high temperature, with the data then sent directly to a site manager in real time to consider whether that person can enter the site or not.
If they pass, they are automatically allowed in and the data is stored until their next visit as part of their file.
This allows areas of the facility to be constantly monitored. For example, it can show how often toilets and other communal areas have been cleaned. This means areas are not only regularly cleaned, but also monitored for other hygiene purposes and footfall – for example, does the business need to open another toilet or control the number of people allowed in a once?
Whilst this is a vital component in tackling Covid-19, it is also a future proofing technology as it allows FM managers to track potential contamination of goods and creates general best practice, especially when dealing with fresh produce or high-risk items such as medicine or perishable goods. It also ensures the most efficient use of time management, with FM staff only attending areas of the site which they need to.
By deploying sensors around sites, managers can track who is working and accessing which areas of the building. This means certain places can be controlled for general footfall as well as alerts going off if access has been made without permission. This ‘track and trace’ approach means that overcrowding on premises is eliminated and only the people who need access at a certain time will have it. It also means that if something happens, site managers can easily recall the data and establish who was where, when and why.
Adopting these solutions is not just about managing the workplace through Covid-19. It is about preparing and making businesses future proofed for years to come. Each of the above approaches presents a good standard practice around providing a duty of care to staff, but also improving operations and the way they do business.
Whilst Covid-19 might have forced many to act quickly and create many pitfalls, it could well be the crossroad many businesses needed to take their organisations to the next level.