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Resilient responses in the face of COVID-19

Resilient responses in the face of COVID-19

Across the globe, RICS members are coming to terms with the ‘new normal’ in the wake of COVID-19 and delivering resilient responses to meet the challenges ahead.

We are delighted to show case specific examples here, and will be adding more in the coming weeks.

 

Across the globe, RICS members are coming to terms with the ‘new normal’ in the wake of COVID-19 and delivering resilient responses to meet the challenges ahead.

We are delighted to show case specific examples here, and will be adding more in the coming weeks.

Adapting to serve users of co-working offices in India

As national lockdowns have forced people to work remotely from home, businesses who usually use flexible co-working offices have found themselves immediately without the facilities they rely on. India based co-working space provider AWFIS responded by adapting to continue serving clients through the disruption, by providing at-home support and keeping their spaces operational throughout the lockdown for essential services clients.

Many firms and start-ups in India rely on the use of flexible co-working spaces, with the market growing over the past five years. AWFIS, which runs India’s largest network of co-working centres over 67 locations and ten cities, stepped in to serve its firms and professionals by extending infrastructural and technology support. This included audio and video conferencing and other collaboration tools, so people can seamlessly work from home. AWFIS recently launched its new offering, ‘AWFIS@Home’ to provide adequate support for remote working. As part of this, they also helped organisations to evaluate their work from home readiness, provided smart desks, ergonomic chairs, data security, and IT troubleshooting. To enable their essential services clients to work safely during lockdown, AWFIS redesigned its workspaces to be further apart.

As countries emerge out of lockdown, AWFIS is taking steps to facilitate a smooth transition back to its offices by working with their clients to establish mutually agreed upon return to work protocols, increasing cleaning measures and implementing mechanisms for touch-free access to its centres.

AWFIS founder and CEO Amit Ramani MRICS remains confident about the outlook for co-working spaces and the firm’s ability to respond to changing market dynamics, commenting: “Cost optimization and increased flexibility will become major areas of concern for all businesses, driving even the most conventional players to shared workspaces to enable them to upsize or downsize in an agile manner. ‘Work near home’ will become a key trend and companies will adopt models to facilitate de-densification. Our large network of locations throughout India means that AWFIS will be able to help our members set up smaller offices in multiple locations across cities.”

Amit Ramani MRICS
Amit Ramani MRICS

Converting two halls in three days in Singapore

The urgency of the COVID-19 health crisis has forced organisations to mobilise quickly to convert buildings into COVID-19 care facilities to meet growing patient needs. Surbana Jurong, an Asia-based urban and infrastructure consulting firm, worked at record speed for their client, the Ministry of Health, to convert the exhibition halls of the Singapore Expo Convention Centre into a temporary community care facility to house two types of COVID-19 patients – recovering patients and patients with mild symptoms who are sent directly to the community care facility upon diagnosis.

Surbana Jurong assembled a team of 50 to work on the design, material procurement, infrastructure provision and construction supervision. Design consultants prioritised safety, while also considering the needs of patients who could be isolated for a long duration. Each patient cubicle contained a bed, a cabinet, a desk lamp, a chair and charging ports for electrical devices. Additionally, the hall was equipped with Wi-Fi. Within three days, Surbana Jurong completed the conversion of the first two halls providing the capacity for 960 patient beds.

The timeline for the conversion was unprecedented. “Initially we were challenged by the short time frame, supply chain disruptions and suspension of workplace activities,” commented Mr. Wong Heang Fine, Group CEO, Surbana Jurong. “But that was quickly overcome with the cooperation and hard work of the authorities, suppliers and contractors. By tackling issues on the ground together, we were able to set up the community care facility over a weekend. This is what I love about this profession. It’s in our DNA to solve problems and in times of crisis, find solutions in unity.”

Find out more

 

Singapore Expo Convention Centre
Singapore Expo Convention Centre - Community care facility

Building a dedicated COVID-19 hospital in China

The city of Wuhan was the first impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and people from across the profession in China worked to support the health crisis by constructing hospitals dedicated to COVID-19 patients. The construction of Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan brought together thousands of professionals working day and night to support project design and construction, facilities management and medical equipment installation.

The hospital was delivered in ten days, providing 1,600 patient beds.

Wuhan native, Deng Xiaoqin MRICS, Head of Construction Intelligence Division at China Construction Engineering Fourth Bureau Installation Engineering Company, was one of the first professionals at the Leishenshan Hospital construction site. She oversaw the installation of fire safety facilities, water supply, electric wiring, and heating systems in 25 wards of the hospital. Deng Xiaoqin and her team worked tirelessly to successfully complete the installation work over three days.

“Participating in the construction of Leishenshan Hospital and witnessing the delivery of this grand project is an unforgettable moment of my life,” said Deng Xiaoqin. “Every day 20,000 people worked together on site at the same time. Teamwork was paramount.”

Zonghua Huang MRICS, Deputy General Manager, First Construction Engineering Co., Ltd. Under China Construction Engineering Third Bureau, rushed from Guangzhou to Wuhan to participate in the construction of the Leishenshan Hospital. As a prefabricated temporary construction project, Leishenshan Hospital was divided by ward area, medical care area, rest area, and medical technology area. An expert in Building Information Modelling, Zonghua Huang led his team over five days and nights to complete the construction and installation of the electromechanical system in the hospital’s medical technology area.

He commented, “I am proud to be a part of this infrastructure miracle by contributing my professional skills to help fight against the virus. Leishenshan Hospital admitted more than 2,000 critically ill patients and successfully discharged 1,900 people.”

 

Deng Xiaoqin MRICS
Deng Xiaoqin MRICS
Zonghua Huang MRICS
Zonghua Huang MRICS

Helping key workers continue to deliver

During these unprecedented times, it is crucial that key workers can safely commute to their place of work so that they can continue delivering their essential services.

Mitie’s cleaning teams are supporting Network Rail to help ensure the UK’s railways continue to operate, while prioritising passenger safety. Network Rail owns, operates, and develops Britain’s railway infrastructure – 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels, and viaducts, as well as thousands of signals, level crossings and stations, as well as managing 20 of the UK’s largest stations.

Mitie’s support during the pandemic includes providing integrated facilities management services to approximately 150 sites across the UK, including Route Operating Centre and Signalling Centres, which are designated critical infrastructure and essential to the safe operation of the UK railway network.
To keep travelers safe, Mitie has amended Stand Operating Procedures, increasing focus on sanitising touch points, such as door handles and push pads, to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.

James Gilding, Managing Director, Cleaning and Environmental Services at Mitie said:
“Our collaborative approach with Network Rail has been fundamental to ensuring a safe, swift and effective response to these unprecedented challenges. Our facilities management teams help to keep the railways operational, meaning key workers can get to work and continue to deliver important services to keep the UK running. We are immensely proud of all our frontline colleagues who are providing vital services on behalf of Network Rail.”

Find out more

 

Mitie
Mitie cleaning teams

Technology of the future making a difference today

The surveying profession may be over 150 years old, but small businesses like Severn Partnership are keeping it at the cutting edge of technology innovation that brings benefits during the COVID-19 lockdown. The Shropshire, UK based land surveying firm is using mobile data capture of buildings and infrastructure to create a ‘digital twin’ that means work to develop and maintain the built environment does not stop because people are not on-site.

The specialist digital measuring, modelling and mapping method uses a moving vehicle on land, sea or rail and involves less time and people than conventional methods. It also provides survey grade accuracy and a realistic visualisation of spaces so people can have the confidence to make decisions offsite.

“Our technology brings the spaces that people are building and maintaining to life virtually”, comments Managing Director Jamie Price. “This enables a wide range of essential work to be planned remotely and decisions to be made from the desk – even if those desks are now at home.”

The firm is also using the lockdown period to safely access sites that are now empty, having recently completed 3D laser scanning of a school so that development work can have a good chance of completing ahead of the Autumn term. “Because the technology means we can capture spaces above and below the ground with less people in less time, there is less risk”, said Jamie Price.

Find out more

 

Severn Partnership
Severn Partnership
Severn Partnership
Severn Partnership

A rapid response in China to get labour back on construction sites

The lockdown in China shut down construction sites overnight, bringing projects to a standstill with little notice. Through this challenge and uncertainty, Turner & Townsend focused on what they could control. They used their expertise in managing complex building programmes to prepare to be ‘first out the traps’ after the lockdown and keep projects moving.

Their approach meant they were able to minimise delays and restart projects immediately after the restrictions were lifted, with 80-90% of staff being back on construction sites for some projects by the end of March.
They introduced innovative ways of working to achieve this, splitting their teams into those that managed the shut down and those that prepared to get projects moving right after the recovery. They made good use of the ‘down time’ to carry out risk reviews, testing of supply chains and assessing inventories and availability of labour and materials. Some decision-making teams even shifted their work patterns to effectively work nights instead of days.

As well as keeping construction projects moving in China, Turner & Townsend also worked to avoid legal action related to the delays. Brian Shuptrine, Managing Director South East Asia, commented, “If we are to make sure that our periods of delay are short term, it’s essential to keep relationships intact. Understanding contractual positions, risks and liabilities is important, but our experience in Asia is that it hasn’t been necessary to enforce terms or resort to legal action: it has very much been a case that we are all in this together.”

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