Keeping major projects moving forward during the Covid-19 pandemic needs careful planning, according to experts at MetroPM, the residential estate property managers.
Director Ian Smallman said that when lockdown was first announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson back in March, it was difficult to see how construction and maintenance projects could continue.
“We have now moved a long way forward and the Government was keen to get the construction industry back to work as early as possible,” he said.
“Clearly, for leaseholders and managing agents there were significant implications and initially it was hard to see how we could progress projects while adhering to all the safety guidelines.”
The Government has issued a document, “Working safely during Covid-19 in construction and other outdoor work” which was most recently updated on 10 July.
In it, it seeks to set out recommendations on how best employees may be deployed in and around buildings and on construction sites.
It provides clear advice on, for example, reducing job equipment rotation by ensuring that an operative should stick to a single job for the day.
It recommends separating sites into working zones in order to allow physical separation of different groups of workers.
Ian Smallman added: “Site meetings is another area which requires careful consideration. Is this meeting necessary? Could it be done on a video call?
“We have all become proficient in using video calling such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, which allows you to share documents, graphs and all manner of data during the course of an online meeting.”
If a meeting is deemed essential, then Mr Smallman recommends holding meetings outdoor where possible, with social distancing, and reducing the number of meetings to those who actually need to be there, rather than as observers.
“Make sure everyone deemed essential to meetings has all the information sent to them before you meet up. Passing over reports, or sharing pens and other objects, simply defeats the object of social distancing,” he pointed out.
He recommends keeping meetings involving managing agents, leaseholders, surveyors and contractors to an absolute minimum, with a clear understanding of the intention behind the meeting and the result required known to all in advance.
“This is an area where experience and an understanding of all aspects of estate management can pay dividends, and it pays to consult the experts,” he said.