dan hounsell

Lessons from a Pandemic

Maintenance and engineering managers did yeoman's work keeping occupants safe and healthy during 2020. Here are some lessons learned from an unprecedented year.

By Dan Hounsell, Editor-in-Chief  

Amid the chaos created by the COVID-19 pandemic, many maintenance and engineering managers were forced to improvise and make do in their efforts to keep buildings healthy and safe. Most facilities have settled into something of a routine, and managers and their organizations now can look for lessons of COVID-19. Organizations likely learned:

Facilities are important. Managers know this, but building occupants generally paid attention to their workplaces only when a roof leaked or an office was too hot or cold. Now, worried parents interrogate managers about air filter MERV ratings. More than ever, the general public understands the impact of buildings on their lives.

Maintenance matters. Without realizing it, parents and occupants asking tough questions about building operations are also asking about the departments responsible for creating safe, healthy buildings. They’re learning that departments’ behind-the-scenes activities directly affect lives. Funding these efforts is no longer a nice-to-have.

Technicians face real risks. As if arc flash and asbestos aren’t enough. Maintenance workers making buildings safer in the COVID-19 era by upgrading building entrances and reconfiguring offices to promote social distancing faced threats to their own health. Protecting them needs to remain a high priority.

Better late than never, right? For their teams, managers probably have learned that:

Supply chains are vulnerable. Shortages for many facilities went beyond masks and gloves. For example, managers struggled to find enough upgraded filters that have become essential in efforts to stop the spread of airborne coronavirus particles. Fixing breaks in these chains will be crucial to weathering the next crisis.

Resilience is crucial. There will be a next crisis. The extent to which managers and departments identify and address vulnerabilities is likely to directly affect the success their organizations will have in responding to the crisis and returning to normal operations quickly.

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  posted on 1/15/2021   Article Use Policy

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