DUBAI, UAE, 8 July 2020: As the UAE continues to implement various health and safety measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the FM industry has found itself at the centre of efforts to minimise chances of transmission in buildings where people live and work, said Michael Nicholas, General Manager, Tafawuq Facilities Management. “Additionally, FM companies are now focusing on developing and recommending long-term solutions that can effectively combat this deadly virus, and help overcome similar situations in the future,” he said. “The crisis has underlined the need for agility, a strong crisis-response strategy and mechanisms to ensure the continuity of operations. Our commitment to technology adoption and the implementation of various technology solutions, well ahead of the crisis, gives us a competitive advantage in this regard.”
Nicholas pointed out that the pandemic will continue to have disruptive and transformative consequences for FM companies and their employees. “For instance, it has significantly changed the type of services offered by companies, and we are witnessing an increasing demand for more frequent sanitisation,” he said. Nicholas added that a key challenge the company has faced has been transitioning office-based employees to work from home, which has been possible due to the investments made in technology. “Our 24/7 contact centre, for example, has been able to run seamlessly with no impact on SLAs (service-level agreements) throughout the remote working period,” he said. “Other digital tools include Tafawuq GO, a maintenance mobility solution designed to help technicians receive, carry out and close work orders digitally, eliminating the need for face-to-face interactions with other staff or physically use printers, scanners and other required devices.” Nicholas added that the company has also rolled out the next-generation SAP4 HANA enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, which has enabled the company’s management teams to approve transactions remotely using mobile devices in real-time. “This has significantly reduced the need for printing and transporting documents that require signatures from managers,” he said.
In light of the current situation, Nicholas said the company has also been witnessing an increased demand for disinfection services, as per the government protocols by the Dubai Municipality and various UAE health authorities. “In response, Tafawuq continues to adopt new measures that would effectively enhance the safety of communities from all types of germs,” he said. “For instance, we are using the best disinfectants and disposable materials while catering to this demand, ensuring the highest level of safety. Our enhanced sanitation services make use of technology, as well.”
Nicholas added that the company’s e-banking integration also plays a huge role in facilitating payment of suppliers and service providers through bank transfers, which helps in eliminating face-to-face interaction within the company or with clients and suppliers. “In addition, Tafawuq will introduce QuickPay for its customers by the end of Q2 2020, which will enable them to complete payment transactions for home maintenance and cleaning services digitally,” he said. “These contactless payment channels protect our customers’ and employees’ health, while also being more convenient and saving paper in the process.”
Nicholas said that undoubtedly, companies are now re-evaluating the way they run their businesses, thanks to economic pressures from regulatory requirements and increased competition. “This is raising the bar for what FM service providers are expected to deliver in the future,” he said. “The pandemic has prompted FM companies to focus more on the customers’ specific needs to stay ahead of the curve. To be more specific, companies are now looking for strategic partnerships with their FM service providers out of concern for their staff, customers and communities. From an environmental perspective, it also allows them to be good corporate citizens that focus on the impact of their environmental footprint. Apart from that, it also helps them ensure shareholder value, both today and in the future.”