Property management staff are maintaining skeleton operations in largely empty commercial buildings and full residential blocks as cleaning, maintenance and safety work continues in the shutdown economy.
Despite many commercial premises being close to empty, some building managers, concierge staff and cleaners are still being told to work so that the properties are not left unmanned even though these professions do not appear on the Government’s list of key workers. Property management firms are now faced with having to find a balance between adhering to official advice and keeping their buildings secure with issues such as fire safety being taken into consideration.
Richard Williams, head of property management at Avison Young, said it was difficult to shut down a building completely and they should be kept ticking over. Water hygiene, fire and health and safety checks must be maintained by a few business-critical staff. He added that there were no visitors and no meetings on site in offices and that social distancing rules were being adhered.
Meanwhile, residential developer Moda Living is enacting special measures to ensure the safety of its residents at the 466-apartment Angel Gardens on Rochdale Road in Manchester limiting the number of customer service staff on site at any given time to one and closing on-site gyms until further notice.
Moda is also limiting the use of lifts to one person at a time in order to minimise the risk of spreading the virus as well as upping its focus on cleanliness by employing three cleaners to be on site for 10 hours a day to carry out regular cleaning of high-risk points including lift buttons, door handles and bins.
Johnny Caddick, managing director of Moda, said: “In line with the Government’s advice we are doing everything possible to assist residents who are social distancing or having to self-isolate. We all know that this is a difficult and stressful time for everyone, and we all need to do out bit to support each other.”
Elsewhere, there have been arguments across social media overnight that construction and property staff should be able to stay at home and were being sent in to work unnecessarily. The lockdown rules and growth of the outbreak poses challenges for building owners and managers around the safeguarding of individual staff members left working in buildings, especially parents and those with at-risk family members in their households.