Pandemics, Healthy Buildings, and the Role of Maintenance
Has America ever been as interested in its buildings as it is right now? While maintenance and engineering managers continue their efforts to ensure the health of occupants returning to facilities, they are doing it with a host of unofficial partners.
Parents want to know about efforts to sanitize classrooms. Government officials are asking about changes to building entrances and health-screening procedures to detect signs of the coronavirus. Occupants want assurances that air-filtration systems can prevent the spread of the coronavirus in their workspaces.
These conversations present a rare opportunity for managers to discuss facility maintenance and engineering with an audience eager to learn. So instead of just making their usual pleas for funds to tackle deferred maintenance or add staff, managers can help the public better understand the crucial roles their departments play.
So how can they make sure to use the opportunity to create greater understanding of and appreciation for their departments?
Communicate clearly. Provide succinct explanations. The goal is to build understanding of a function that is out of sight and out of mind to most people, so skip the technical explanations and professional jargon.
Market accomplishments. Departments played an important role in ensuring the health and safety of facilities long before the pandemic. Conversations provide an appropriate opportunity to point out a department’s ongoing accomplishments and the expertise of front-line technicians.
Spotlight needs. Emphasize that ensuring healthy buildings is not a short-term operation. As long as the public demands healthy workplaces and schools, managers can remind them that meeting those demands requires financial support.
For managers who approach these conversations strategically, they offer a once-in-a- career chance to help an eager audience understand the role of maintenance.