COMMENTARY ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

Sustaining Business Operations During the Pandemic

Image by LYCS Architecture/Unsplash

By Dr Andi Harapan, ST, SIP, MArch.

The COVID-19 pandemic has a major impact on how health, safety and security are now being carried out and looked at in all office or work environments—they have become the front and centre issues to ensure business continuity. During this time, companies have realised that management teams and employees need to work together with other support teams (IT, cleaners and security officers) to optimise cleanliness or hygiene, safety and security in order to maintain business resiliency.

BUILDING SECURITY
To improve security at the main entrance, there should be a 24-hour security post. The security team should patrol both inside and outside the building and always check whoever enters the premises. The office building should also be equipped with a CCTV that is monitored 24 hours a day. All office guests must follow the company’s protocol, and during this time, it should include contact tracing procedures, temperature checks through infra-red thermometers, etc. Wherever possible, the doors at the office should be automated so as to avoid unnecessary contact.

Regular disinfection is necessary to ensure cleanliness and hygiene that will minimise virus spread; image by Tedward Quinn/Unsplash

CLEANLINESS & HYGIENE
In the office area, antiseptic should be provided in both public spaces and each division workspace area. Disinfectants should be sprayed per week as this is part of a safe and healthy way of working. In a clean work area where surfaces are sanitized regularly, the risk of virus spread is reduced. Besides that, a clean work area will increase the employees’ productivity.

LAYOUT CHANGES
Following the COVID-19 protocol, the distance between employees should be at least one metre. In an architecture and construction office or other large offices, this could be particularly challenging because there are many different kinds of IT equipment and systems, which are usually differentiated according to workgroups, such as the architecture division; interior division; landscape division; engineering division, etc. As such, this would require careful planning and coordination between management and employees. To ease the transformation, the layout can be changed by sorting the items from the simplest equipment to the most sophisticated equipment, such as from benches, cabinets, work tables, and furniture to conveyors, light equipment and vehicles.

Office reconfiguration can be rolled out in stages, from the easiest task to the most difficult one; image by Jonathan Borba/Unsplash

IMPROVED IT SYSTEMS
IT is one of the mainstays of the modern corporate world, especially so during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the introduction of staggered hours and WFH schedule, the reliance on data and cloud systems has increased. Data security should also be strengthened to ensure privacy and productivity, especially in the execution of projects that require intense coordination with external parties.

CLEAR COMMUNICATION
In times of crisis, clarity in communication is the key to solving problems. Regulations should be communicated to employees through discussions within each division. Communicate clearly when informing or giving work instructions and targets. If communication methods are online and data are digitalised, there should be training to enhance employees’ capacity and understanding.

REGULAR REVIEWS AND OBSERVATIONS
Management should observe and review their employees regularly, especially those who are working from home. If necessary, support should be provided; for example, staff who reside far away can be facilitated with office shuttles. IT personnel should go to the office to monitor the WFH system. Corrections are still applicable if there is a misconduct. Rewards can be given to those who perform well and serve as role models for others. In a normal situation, reviews are usually done once or twice every year. During this time, such reviews could be done more frequently to inspect the workplace and evaluate the safety systems.

– Construction+ Online 


About the author:

Dr Andi Harapan, ST, SIP, MArch. is an architect, a lecturer and General Manager of PT Bamko Karsa Mandiri. He is experienced in many design typologies, including hotels, offices, housing, conventions and exhibitions, as well as industrial building facilities. Andi is also a lecturer in the architecture department of Universitas Komputer Indonesia (UNIKOM), Bandung and has carried out extensive research and written academic articles on architecture, especially relating to modular technology.


 

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