By Elbert Walters, III
They say that necessity is the mother of invention. There may have never been a time more full of inventions and adaptations than last year, as we adapted (and continue to adapt) to new ways of living during COVID-19. For most facility management professionals this transition meant managing facilities where sometimes thousands of people passed through your doors each day to managing mostly vacant facilities, shuttered due to the threat of potential virus spread.
After the initial shock wore off, many of you were wondering, what next? How do you prepare for the eventual return to full capacity? One of the many ways to ensure the health and safety of your facilities is through contactless technologies like air filtration/HVAC controls, ultraviolet (UV) lighting modifications, A/V solutions, touch-free bathrooms, and sign-in kiosks for visitors with mobile integration. With the need to ensure the health and safety of workers at an all-time high, Powering Chicago’s highly-qualified union electrical contractors are seeing their industrial and commercial clients seek out these technologies in record numbers.
Take Chicagoland electrical contractor Malko Communication Services for example. They’ve been in business for 95 years and have been installing wireless, A/V, and security contactless solutions for more than 10 years but recent interest from their customers has been at an all-time high. And the feedback has been very positive. Malko’s pre-pandemic experience working with contactless technologies has provided a variety of lessons learned and operational improvements to ensure their customers receive functional systems and know how to best manage the technologies to meet all of their health, safety, and operational needs.
Though many of these upgrades are happening on a company-to-company basis, last month the U.S. Labor Department released its workplace safety standard for COVID-19. Though at this time, the guidance is only for healthcare settings, it could prove to be foreshadowing for best practices in other industries. The guidance includes considerations like developing and implementing coronavirus safety policies; limiting and monitoring the entrance to areas where there is direct patient care; screening employees before coming into work; and more. If this standard is a sign of the way policies will trend, it could mean that considering new contactless technologies isn’t just good business sense, some of these improvements may become mandatory.
We know that the threat of COVID isn’t over. And, more than that, it’s not just the coronavirus that makes these technologies beneficial. Experts are already projecting a severe flu season this fall and winter and minimizing contact with high-touch surfaces could play a key role in keeping workers healthy and able to contribute. For business owners and facilities managers, these improvements are investments in your most important asset — your people.
These technologies are becoming so popular that Powering Chicago, an electrical industry labor-management partnership between the IBEW local 134 and the Electrical Contractors’ Association of Chicago and Cook County (ECA), created the “Contactless Office E-Book”. This e-book offers access to insights from experts in the unionized electrical industry about contactless technology modifications, arming business owners with information about the latest technological modifications to increase workplace safety. If you’re considering new or upgraded technologies in your facility, click here to find the link to download the E-Book.
A former business representative for IBEW Local 134 and longtime member of the union, Walters now serves as the Executive Director for Powering Chicago, leading the organization’s 100+ philanthropic and community impact initiatives each year and playing a key role in its daily operations. Walters brings to the position a deep understanding of the unionized electrical industry’s commitment to better construction, better careers and better communities.
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