Remote, but not out of touch – how to manage on site contractors while social distancing

Mar 19, 2020

As COVID-19 has reached pandemic stage, our daily lives are changing quickly.

All the advice is sensible, stay safe, stay home if unwell or returning from affected areas, and work from home if you can. With a vaccine potentially still a year away, this way of working could become the new normal. As the health of the population is prioritised how will the health of your building fare?

Healthy buildings, like healthy bodies, need maintaining.

A large portfolio requires regular maintenance to ensure a building doesn’t erode and to maintain high levels of tenant satisfaction.  In a pandemic, tenant expectations are that cleaning will be more regular and more detailed than ever. Regular maintenance and cleaning contracts have traditionally meant regular site visits, briefing contractors, ensuring health and safety inductions and checking back to ensure work has been completed.

Each visit comes with the inevitable commuting time – tedious in the past and now risky, as the densely populated nature of the London tube puts commuters at six times the risk of catching a virus. As the efforts to “flatten the curve” continue, social distancing is being imposed, putting the traditional routine of a conscientious property manager in conflict with the more risk averse behaviour now expected by society.

So, what’s the solution?

Technology – and it is more sophisticated than Zoom meetings, video conferencing or file sharing via the cloud. Within the PropTech sector, there are many solutions traditional property managers can adopt and integrate into their systems, enabling them to keep on top of their management while working remotely.

For the hands-on, on-site manager, visibility of operations is usually the first thing that will concern a property manager when remote working.  It needn’t.  Technology is available to give property managers an unparalleled level of visibility, even when working remotely.  This includes the ability to see what staff or maintenance teams are on any site at any time and for how long.

This data is invaluable when working around changing workforces during uncertain times.  For example, property managers can monitor completed activities, and be aware of which tasks are incomplete and will require a return visit, perhaps because of staff shortages or a contractor’s inability to source parts for a specific piece of work.  Good management supports good communications, so tenants can be made aware of any potential delays to servicing facilities, such as a goods lift or HVAC unit.

Our team at Forsite has developed an automated proof of presence system that is simple, effective and user-friendly for both the property manager and contracted workers and delivered via an app for a mobile phone. Our sensor automatically detects a worker’s mobile on arrival and delivers on screen an updateable health and safety induction. The worker must acknowledge risks and is required to estimate the time they will be on site.  While the property manager is not physically on site, the app is their eyes and ears.

 

To ensure safety for workers on site, alerts are raised 15 minutes before the time estimate expires and an option to extend is provided. If there is no response to the prompt, an alert will be raised within 15 minutes of the time estimate ending. This is especially valuable for lone workers. Backroom technology also enables jobs and costs to be allocated by property, while supporting effective monitoring of contractor productivity.

Working remotely doesn’t mean being out of touch – and you, your family and the buildings in your care will all be well looked after. We can help.

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