E-Live Webinar Review: EFS’s Khurram Nazeer on how innovation and technology plays a crucial role amid COVID-19
In a recent E-Live webinar hosted by Construction Business News Middle East and in partnership with du, and our knowledge partners Tafawuq Facilities Management, Khurram Nazeer, General Manager – Information Technology, EFS Facilities Services Group, examines how technology and innovation plays a key crucial in keeping occupants and buildings safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Initial steps and measures taken to combat COVID-19
We took the matter very seriously, followed all government requirements and recommendations, and developed an EFS COVID-19 Corporate Level Framework to deal with this. We needed to look through the COVID-19 lens and address the following challenges, which included two-fold:
- Staff Management – health concerns, job security fears, motivational challenges
- Business Continuity – financial control, client’s expectations, renegotiations
In terms of staff management, communication was a vital part of this process. We need to ensure that all HSE Guidelines, PPE Instructions, sanitization practices in accommodations, transportation, and workplace were communicated efficiently and put into practice. EFS ensured that all staff was observed and monitored during the pandemic and that social distancing strictly adhered too. In order to continue and motivate the staff conducted staff coaching to help alleviate any pressures cause by this crisis.
Technology, Innovation, and R&D
In a recent article for a leading newspaper, our Group CEO, Mr. Tariq Chauhan, has called this a Technology Renaissance. According to him, the technology has been there for years before the COVID-19 crisis, but the crisis has now transformed mindsets and disrupted workflows. This has significantly accelerated technology adaption. Here are some specific examples; we’ve introduced real-time communication and collaboration by utilizing Microsoft Teams, Meetings, Chats, Chat Bots, and Work Tracker as a way to maintain remote working conditions. At the offices itself, we’ve introduced IOT and Smart Connected Devices to keep track of the staff, using count sensors and thermal cameras, ensuring staff are wearing masks and shoe sanitizers. This has enabled EFS to maintain a high level of productivity and efficiency during the pandemic.
In terms of innovation, we’ve introduced an all new bio clean business services that – ranges from disinfection services, deep cleaning, indoor air quality, water tank cleaning and supply and replenishment of Bio Clean Products . We also have a near-real-time analysis and reporting of suspected, confirmed, and recovered cases that improved resource management and deployment planning.
Since the FM industry is so people-driven, COVID-19 was a stark reminder about sustainability’s fundamental principles. It moved the focus from the environment and climatic issues towards people (staff and clients) and their health. It increased reliance on technology for improved efficiency, speed, delivery, and quality of services. Responsible workplaces, efficient work practices, waste reduction, procedural capabilities through the use of technology has helped EFS with this transformation.
Challenges faced from FM Workers
Employees always come first at EFS as such, we were aware of the critical challenges faced by them. We introduced PPE gear, which put additional effort into the workers, which may have impacted their productivity and efficiency, and the weather in UAE did not help with that matter due to the heat. The staff had to adhere strictly to social distancing rules at all times at the site. Being in the frontline, if an employee was tested positive for COVID-19 we provided separate accommodations for them to recover. Challenges vary from residential and commercial buildings. At commercial buildings, you have multiple entrances, various timings, and SOP compliance, which means the challenges varied too. Physical checks needed to be conducted to ensure that all occupants’ temperatures were checked and had masks on. In a commercial building, the variety of locations also mean that a more extensive area had to be sanitized and cleaned, such as doors, rails, lifts, and common areas.