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The COVID-19 pandemic did not only change the way real estate professionals do business in the Philippines, it also impacted how property and facilities managers respond to a different type of crisis. Property and facilities management teams are tasked to protect and secure tenants that occupy a commercial or residential establishment. Now that the world is in battle with an invisible and unforeseen enemy, changes of protocols and implementation of guidelines are being discussed and continuously modified.
While standard safety measures such as enacting social distancing rules, disinfecting surfaces, and more frequent cleaning of amenities, property, and facilities managers take it upon themselves to disseminate information and raise awareness about COVID-19 and other viruses. There is now a profound awareness of health and safety for the occupiers and tenants.
Standardized and stringent workplace protocols
The pandemic has led a shift to a greater emphasis on the health and wellness of tenants including property and facilities management essential workers. This includes, but is not limited to, the security personnel, housekeepers, and technicians.
Due to the threat of viral infection, majority of these employees are mandated to report to work amid the quarantine. The need for them to be more equipped with training and PPEs proves to be vital in delivering a more confident and proper response to this pandemic.
Workplace policies, guidelines, and protocols must also be restructured to adapt to the “new normal” as the world observe changes this pandemic brings. The modification and strict enforcement of these procedures are the most essential responsibilities of property and facilities management teams during crisis.
PMs and FMs must be quick in adapting to the rapidly evolving pandemic scenario, from implementing unprecedented procedures such as body temperature reading, setting hand disinfection stations, implementing physical distancing, and wearing of masks & face shields, etc.
Business and Procedural Adaptation
Before COVID 19, companies are equipped with their business continuity plans (BCPs). These guidelines commonly focus on man-made and natural disasters, such as typhoons, flash floods, earthquakes, and wars. Unfortunately, the majority has unforeseen such calamity on the scale of the new coronavirus.
The pandemic that the world currently experiences has forced companies to create a business continuity plan that will be able to respond and operate amid major city lockdowns and community quarantines, covering additional protocol and measures to be applied by their respective property management and facilities management teams.
Seamless online transactions and remote work
Since there were mobility restrictions during the lockdown, property and facilities managers also modified the number of staff deployed on-site. This is an effort to minimize the exposure of employees to the virus and prevent the spread of the virus in facilities and communities.
It also allowed companies and businesses to reevaluate the manpower needed to meet their operational requirements, given that majority would be more open to a remote and flexible working option once the situation slows down.
Moreover, a need for seamless transactions such as payments and submissions of tax reports should be improved as well. The need for the paperless and online processing guidelines of all government-related transactions must be imminent to promote efficiency and effectivity.
Property Technology Software
The pandemic also reemphasized the importance of technology and how it plays a big role in the remote management of properties and facilities. The use of the property technology software which allows PM and FM teams to remotely manage establishments especially during the lockdown continuously play a significant role in business continuity procedures.
As the world keeps up with the changes and adjusts to a new definition of normal, property and facilities managers continuously modify their protocols and guidelines to protect and secure their tenants and employees. A situation like this only emphasized the importance of the role of property and facilities management in real estate and the property market.