Contract Manager, Mark McDonald, tells us how his team has adapted to Covid-19 and is equipped and ready for the return to on-campus learning very soon.
When the pandemic hit, how did your team overcome the initial challenges?
My team and I began preparing for this pandemic before the first lockdown started in early 2020. Our biggest challenge was to maintain a clean and safe environment whilst keeping all those on campus safe. Like so many universities around the world, this was unchartered territory, and an uphill battle, but something myself and my team were ready to tackle together.
From the offset, we took a proactive approach. We knew the safety of people was our priority so gaining knowledge of what we were dealing with was important for us. I organised socially distanced toolbox talks to help my team develop an understanding of what was needed. I collated and distributed material and publications from our government on measures to be taken. I also implemented frequent catch-up meetings with the team to educate and update them on the latest developments. This was all done with the aim of protecting ourselves and those around us.
How were you able to maintain service standards?
The joint contract managers and I formulated new strategies and schedules that would allow us to maintain our usual standard of service amidst this disruption. We introduced working pods to ensure minimal crossover and to reduce the number of close contact situations. Working closely with the client we established a new daytime role to increase touch point cleaning frequency. This new role has been the backbone of our service during the pandemic and an important factor in how we have been containing the spread of Covid-19 on campus.
Have you taken any steps to improve your response outbreaks?
From an early stage, I ensured the team was prepared for a potential outbreak on site. Ecostatic sprayers were installed to actively apply a preventative disinfectant, but they also enabled us to decontaminate infected areas if Covid-19 was identified. Several members of both team and management were trained up to use the equipment.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have decontaminated a variety of areas around campus in response to suspected cases. In our high-traffic areas, we have completed countless preventative spraying projects also.
What is your teams’ priorities for the reopening, will there be new systems and ways of working?
Our focus is to continue working closely with the client and estate services to facilitate a smooth transition back to on-campus learning. Currently, we are planning to return as per current government guidelines. This means for the foreseeable future we expect to continue our daytime touchpoint cleaning procedures, remain working in smaller groups, adhere to social distancing where possible, and wear PPE where necessary.
The rollout of a new request logging system is also currently underway. Our client will be able to raise tickets through this system which will be forwarded to our team, providing them with a real-time feed. The job can then be assigned to a team leader to complete and closeout, triggering a notification to all included on the job tree that the job is complete. This means there will be a faster response time and will minimise staff deployment to the affected area where unnecessary.
What do expect in the coming months?
Since we began our work on-site here at UCD, and particularly since the start of the pandemic, our team has had an incredible ability to adapt to change and overcome any challenges put in front of us. We have strong backing from the leadership team at Bidvest Noonan that will ensure we have the resources we need to continue doing so.
While the government guidelines may change how we work, we will adjust as required and continue to work to the best of our ability in the safest manner possible, supporting client operations across the portfolio. We will stay in discussion with the client to ensure both teams are working in tandem. This continued support and communication has built an environment of trust and partnership and we look forward to continuing this as we welcome everyone back on campus.