APPA is conducting ongoing surveys on the impact of COVID-19 on various areas of educational facilities. Look on this page for the surveys and results as the become available.
Results from Space Considerations Before, During & After COVID-19
Below are the responses to the APPA’s Space Considerations Before, During & After COVID-19 Survey, which closed on 5/4/2020. For your convenience, we’ve captured both a summary of the responses, as well as provided a complete list of the answers as they were provided to us.
Why will your space be increasing or decreasing (i.e. what are the drivers impacting this)?
Summary of reasons why space will either be increasing or decreasing:
- Space density will decrease which will increase hourly use of space with remote learning
- Telework options for staff will reduce the need for more office space
- Increased online learning options will require more evening/weekend hours
- Leased spaces will be eliminated
- Smaller class sizes will result in larger spaces due to social distancing requirements
- Existing space will be repurposed
- Space won’t increase but will be improved or more efficiently utilized
- Space will be consolidated
- Enrollments have been and will continue to decline for some schools which will make less space inevitable
Some specific examples from the survey responses:
– With de-densification the new norm, the level of instruction and operations must remain high and will need to employ and implement all possible tools (technology, processes, modifications and flexibility). Space optimization will be one of the most effective measures used to approach space utilization reconsiderations.
– Most of our class sizes are small, we only have two classrooms that can seat approximately 100 students. However, our small classes meet in small classrooms. The new normal may require our classes to be spaced out more. We do not have that luxury. We may need to split classes, using the rooms twice as much. Small, private college = very few classes on Friday. We will need to consider hosting more classes on Fridays.
– Social distancing would require more classroom space. Our space utilization of classrooms was already extremely high. We may be looking to reduce seating capacity which would require more sections of courses to be taught.
– Cost to maintain and projected reduction in enrollment will likely require closure of some physical spaces.
– Space utilization may be increased as opportunities are pursued to decommission building(s) and consolidate.
– Our campus plans to bring students back in the fall and change our classroom and class labs to accommodate smaller size classes due to the pandemic. That means we may have to increase the amount of space being used for teaching. Remodeling rooms and/or reclassifying space to meet our needs. Even with a potential enrollment drop, our space may increase because we will need to spread out for social distancing.
– To comply with social distancing guidelines, we have discussed cutting class sizes by half. This would mean more sections, which mean more spaces need to be scheduled. This would produce less downtime in classrooms, creating a fully booked schedule throughout the day and evening.
– We think that we will start decreasing the amount of space we are using, by using the opportunity for more staff to work remotely. This may let us reduce the amount of leased space in favor of owned space. This will allow us to find some more space for classrooms and labs, which may need to have more square footage per seat, to allow more seat-distancing.
– Space utilization will adjust. Faculty and staff may continue to work part-time from home. Residence halls and classroom occupancies will adjust to maintain social distancing. While we don’t anticipate a decrease in research funds, lab occupancy may also be adjusted. Classes will likely be scheduled more hours per day to add sections to offset reduced enrollments.
– I think in the very short term, we will be using less space. Within the next year, though, as we try to bring our students back to campus, we’ll be making use of more space, even though there’s not more to distribute. I think this means we’ll be holding smaller classes in larger spaces well into what was formally considered off-hours. We may also be prioritizing spaces formerly used by staff or non-instructional use for classes and encouraging people who can work from home to continue to do so. In a sense, we will be leveraging people’s home offices as an expansion of the campus until we return to a time where gathering in large groups is a reality.
– We will increase utilization and decrease overall footprint. Drivers will be: 1. Academic Enterprise Re-imagined- centralization, combination of programs, or elimination; 2. Digital Transformation that enables process improvement and a connected portfolio that reduces silos and duplication; 3. Space Principles that prioritize space for function, not people, removal of room type and scheduling rights that open up portfolio, centralized scheduling tools that transparently show all that is available, and focused energy on portfolio reduction to limit capital and operational costs.
– Enrollment is already in a decline, so making class sizes smaller will actually “right size” university space utilization, as well as, faculty load requirements (i.e. not just 10 – 2 classes).
– We have several private offices assigned to one faculty member that are grossly underutilized. We are considering moving to private office sharing with assigned schedules for 2-3 people. This still provides private office time while on campus but can be utilized by another staff member on off schedule days. This will also allow us to decompress existing shared spaces where people are working in close proximity (less than 6 feet). As leases expire, we can potentially release space back to the landlord or other departments. Conference rooms will decrease in utilization as we anticipate practicing virtual meetings for the long term. Classrooms are still to be determined. Academic medical clinic space utilization has remained the same. However, we have begun to reconfigure numerous spaces to spread out patient waiting area, isolation rooms, etc.
How has your specific space plan been altered/impacted by the pandemic?
Summary of how specific space plans have been altered/impacted by the pandemic:
- Plans are unknown/unchanged/or there is too much uncertainty still to know
- Plans have changed significantly
- Plans are currently on hold/suspended
- Budget uncertainties have impacted current plans
- Construction has either slowed, paused, or stopped
- Current space allocation is being reconsidered/revised due to social distancing requirements
- Rethinking design standards for offices and classrooms in particular, in order to accommodate social distancing/remote working/disinfecting surfaces etc.
Some specific examples from the survey responses:
– Renewed commitment to conditions assessments and as-built records and accelerate sustainability and resiliency goals. We need to re-build better, not the same.
– Projects have been evaluated for funding sources and prioritized or deferred.
– Distancing requirements have now changed the programming, adding more multi-modal abilities and capabilities. Inclusion of inherent flexibility into the space.
– We are just now looking at the implications of COVID-19 on our space plan. It will probably mean reallocation of some of our spaces, delay in improving other spaces, and high demand for still other spaces.
-Long term, we are in the process of updating our campus master plan, so the campus’ new master plan will be developed with awareness of the pandemic’s effects. In the short term, physical distancing requirements will nullify classroom utilization targets our campus has been striving to improve.
– We have standards for space allocation for classroom, lab, and office space. The impact of COVID-19 is under evaluation for all aspects. In the short term, the capacity of the spaces will be significantly reduced. Plans for alterations of space include flexibility to migrate to increasing occupancy levels as gathering limits change.
– We were just in the process of reducing private (faculty & staff) office sizes and increasing the amount of open collaborative workspace. Now we are examining if this will work in a separation/social distancing future. This is coupled with a re-examination of space due to the fact that more staff are actually able to work remotely. And do we really need more conference rooms?
– Our capital program is now focused on completing projects in construction. Projects in design will be put on hold after completing current design phase.
– One large new academic building is going forward but remaining upgrades/alterations are on hold unless critical to safety, health or if continued delay of these projects will impact integrity of the space.
– Nothing has changed with our current space plan, but it is complicating our future new building and renovation plans. The complications are arising because it is more difficult to move people around at this time and also because budgetary uncertainty makes larger projects more difficult to launch.
– The space use policy, particularly for shared offices and workstations, will be altered. This will drive the size of new facilities in planning, layout of existing workstations, and repurposing of common areas like conference rooms and break out spaces as designated touch down spaces.
Results from Grounds/Landscaping Survey
Below are the responses to the APPA’s Grounds/Landscaping Survey which closed on 4/17/20. For your convenience, we’ve captured both a summary of the responses, as well as provided a complete list of the answers as they were provided to us.
Click here for an infographic of other questions answered in this survey.
What are your plans to ramp-up grounds/landscaping services and staffing with the onset of mowing season?
Summary of ways respondents plan to ramp up services/staffing:
- No change in staffing either because campuses are already at full staffing or have enough staff to handle mowing
- Will plan to bring staffing back up to full staffing levels
- Hiring additional staffing (mostly contractors because the unknown is student labor)
- Implementing modified work schedules in work zones to maintain social distancing
- Prioritizing areas – no ramping up will occur
- Staff will be required to work overtime
- Mowing will be minimized where possible
- Limited mowing/no staffing until the shelter in place order is lifted
- Ramping up slowly in phases using small rotating teams of staffing
- Mowing less frequently (i.e., every other week)
- Expanding work hours daily and/or adding work days to the week with EXISTING staff
- Lowering grounds/landscaping care standards in certain non-priority areas
- Cross training staff in other FM departments to assist with mowing duties
- Focus on mowing to the exclusion of other grounds services during this season
- Using less fertilizer/limited irrigation to reduce growth and eliminating other grounds services
Some specific examples from the survey responses:
– Our objectives are campus safety and security and keeping things alive. Irrigation will likely ramp up to a minimum only to keep things alive. We might add one full-time regular staff person into our rotation who is currently not working. We will prioritize only the most visible spaces and develop a strategy for prioritizing the rest.
– Mowing is done without edging or line trimming. Areas in turf requiring line trimming are starting to be treated with Roundup to reduce the need for this practice. Edging will be done as needed when grass is creeping on to walkways and over curbs. I may try applying Roundup to the ground exposed by newly edged turf to reduce edging at the cost of possible ‘haloing’. Out of a grounds team of ten, three (including the supervisor) are coming in to work. The two team members working with me stated they would be too stir-crazy staying at home. As of yesterday, I have received interest from additional team members to work one day a week to mow the campus turf.
– One approach is the implementation of growth regulators on our larger turf areas. This will aide in stalling growth in turf and reduce man hours in mowing these areas and will allow for overtime of maintenance activities.
– Working on getting County approval to allow at least enough mowing to prevent weeds and allow proper operation of irrigation sprinklers.
– We recognize that we will not begin mowing until well into the mowing season which means that grass clippings will be an issue. We will have a plan to identify priority areas and develop a mowing schedule. Planning for removal of excess clippings. Planning on transitioning some staff back to edging and mulching. Possible hiring of temporary staff to help with weeding.
– Will not add staffing. We have been able to recognize efficiencies gained by not having students on campus and not having to schedule around outdoor events.
– We are struggling to figure this out. We typically use inmate labor, students, and temp employees. Inmates are not an option. Students are not on campus, so the pool is not there to hire from…..
– We will have people from each crew (Athletics, Gardens, Arborist, and Pest control) rotate to help out with mowing and weed control.
– We will prioritize mowing, edging, spraying, and bed management over regular pruning, trimming, mulch, planting, and preventive maintenance.
– Mowing season has already begun. Operating with all grounds employees, at 50% (every other week). Have designated some areas “no mow”, some areas “reduced mow”, and trimming/string trimming is being deferred. Gardening activities (pruning, transplanting, etc.) postponed. Tree work only that is essential (hazard/safety concern).
– Utilize essential employees that are losing hours because their primary work has come to a standstill (i.e. dining staff).
– There are no plans as the future is uncertain. What we have done is set a schedule that will allow us to maintain all of our turf and a manageable condition until such time as we can return to full staff hours.
– Proposing to administration and union leadership, creative scenarios depending on speculative executive orders from our Governor. For example, ask for volunteers, decentralize everyone, no common time clocks, staggered hours, stage equipment at decentralized locations, reduce mowing acreage, reduce mowing frequency, and apply plant growth regulators.
– Pushing mowing back to a 10 day rotation and trimming to a 3 week rotation.
– Keep up with the priority areas and tasks and hit reduced priority tasks at a reduced frequency.
– Bi-weekly service focusing on essential needs only.
Are there any special tactics/protocols that have been implemented by the grounds/landscaping unit to cope with the current situation?
Summary of ways respondents are employing special tactics/protocols:
- Offering flexibility to deal with family dynamics during the work week (young children not able to be in daycare, children being home schooled virtually, illness in the family, etc.)
- Providing ways to socially distance while working
- Offering reduced work schedules in addition to flexible work schedules
- Allowing staff to use their own personal vehicle or providing each staff person with their own vehicle that is assigned to them daily (same goes for equipment)
- Rotating shifts/split shifts/teams of two/staggered shifts
- Providing remote training opportunities during off weeks
- Offering increased availability of PPE
- Increasing the level of disinfection/sanitation of equipment and all touch points
- Providing more frequent communications and ways to communicate have expanded
Some specific examples from the survey responses:
Precautions for groundskeepers: Any employee who is or may be sick is required to stay home. This includes anyone who has a sick person in their home.
- We have ensured that we have an abundance of PPE (personal protective equipment) and antibacterial supplies and are urging their constant use.
- Every surface in our offices and workstations is being disinfected continuously.
- All of our trucks and equipment have been equipped with disinfectant supplies and are being cleaned continuously.
- All employees are mandated to travel with windows down to increase ventilation.
- All overseas and non-essential travel for any of our employees and leadership has stopped.
- We are limiting crew meetings to be outside where better ventilation and social distancing can be achieved. We are also following the Best Practices laid out by the PLNA (Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association).
- Implement daily all-hands communications to inform, educate and reinforce SOPs, BMPs and possible next steps.
- Relax attendance policies to allow any employee who is uncomfortable working to stay home and use PTO. This policy is dependent upon whether the grounds person is contracted or a Jefferson employee.
- Train crew personnel to be able to respond to questions from the public in a professional manner.
- Enforce cleaning and sanitation protocols for all common spaces including trucks and equipment.
- Stagger crew start times and coverage days to minimize congregation at office/shop locations
- Limit crews to 1 person per truck.
- Assign one truck to one crew and when necessary sanitize between rotations.
- Minimize the use of shared equipment and tools
- Wear gloves as much as possible removing only to eat, drink, or touch your face.
- If you must work in close proximity to another for a short period of time (i.e. lifting a tree ball into a hole) wear a face mask.
- Be prepared to shut down at any moment.
- Post and follow the gov’t guidelines.
- Designate restroom facilities and schedule cleanings multiple times per shift.
– Social distancing at lunch and breaks by staying 6 ft. away from each other. Eating and meeting outside do keep germs out of the building. Wiping down steering wheels, handles, keys, switches, counters, etc. at the end of each day with Lysol. Operationally, we are in the transition zone and most of our campus is Bermuda grass over seeded with perennial ryegrass. Normally we would wait until May/June to chemically remove the ryegrass, but we started 3 weeks ago. This will help us keep up with our cutting cycle because the Bermuda grass is not growing rapidly now. We also plan to hold off any Bermuda grass fertilizer until the ban is lifted. We also have sprayed, and will continue to spray, growth regulators on our tall fescue lawns as well as hedges that require pruning.
– Emptied and covered over half of trash and recycle cans throughout campus to reduce need of staff spot checking cans and food rotting to attract rodents and raccoons.
– Landcare had an order of Spring flowers that became a surplus they could not plant due to reduced operations. So, our Zero Waste Program Manager offered a flower sale to the public conducted over social media. Response was incredible! Close to 500 orders arrived in about 60 minutes – essentially sold-out in 15 minutes. Flower pick-up times were scheduled to 15 minute increments that would follow social distancing standards. This was a teamwork win made possible by people working from home, the ReUse Warehouse, the Landcare Offices and in the nursery. In the end over 250 flower orders were filled with over 1,000 flats of pansies and bulb pots totaling almost $11,000.
– We stagger arrival and departure times to reduce the number of employees in our shop at a time. We also spread teams out and into individual vehicles to reduce interaction. We’ve reduced high risk work (like using a chainsaw) to only emergency response to lessen chances of injury.
– OSU LANDSCAPE SERVICES COVID-19 PREVENTION AND CONTROL PROTOCOLS Landscape Services is following Covid-19 Guidelines published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
– Additional protocols have been put into action pertaining to sanitation of workspaces and common areas:
- Employees are strongly encouraged to frequently wash hands with soap and water.
- Common areas are cleaned daily by Custodial Services.
- All work and lunch tables are being wiped down with healthcare grade Clorox bleach wipes daily
- Computer keyboards common office equipment and time clocks are wiped down weekly.
- In addition to custodial cleaning, breakroom floors are being mopped weekly.
- Door handles and light switches are wiped down daily using Clorox wipes.
- Steering wheels door handles, shift levers, etc. are being wiped with disinfecting wipes daily.
– Meetings in smaller groups, training on how/when to use PPE, physical distancing in vehicles (2 ppl in 4-person cart, 1 person in 2-person carts), consistent sanitation of tools and machines, empowering frontline managers to make decisions for the safety of their teams, open and regular communication, find alternatives for high-contact points (ice machines, water jugs, etc.), encouraging suggestions on how we can operate safer and more effectively.
– We have developed a Pandemic SOP based on CDC Recommendations. Supervisors monitor and discus twice a day with staff about SOP protocols. Health screening (How do you feel questions) performed at beginning and end of shift. We create clean zones – Wipe down vehicle touch points at beginning and end of shift. Wipe down tools at beginning and end of shift. Social Distancing – 6′ apart. Masks for when indoors. One staff member per vehicle or mode of transportation. Staff are to use their own equipment and limit the sharing of equipment. Running two rotations of skeleton crews. They work every other week.
How are you handling grounds/landscaping staffing with a shelter-in-place order?
Summary of ways respondents are handling a shelter in place order:
- Offering modified or flexible work schedules so staff can manage work/family dynamics easier
- Offering more flexibility around telework from home
- Social distancing is strictly enforced
- Staff are designated as essential for critical services such as: emergencies, snow removal, trash/litter, utility excavation, essential mowing, drainage, infrastructure/asset protection, emergency preventive maintenance, and inclement weather clean-up
- In addition to the services listed above, almost everyone under a shelter in place order is conducting regular and routine inspections daily
Some specific examples from the survey responses:
– While all Facilities staff have an essential designation, it is for only essential activities. In our case the work only includes the following:
• Cold patch repair of drives as needed for safety
• Inspection for outdoor pest control
• Inspection and cleaning as required for storm drains to maintain flow, particularly after rain/storm events
• Inspection and removal as needed of downed trees/debris due storm events
• Provide general services for moving/delivery of essential equipment/inventory
• Periodic sweeping of sidewalks and parking areas to remove geese droppings
• Replace outdoor lamp bulbs per reports from Security
• Respond to any other campus emergency as required.
– Landscape work that mitigates risk is considered essential such as flail mowing for fire mitigation, tree and shrub pruning for safety and security. Pest control is another.
– We have 2 hospitals and clinics running to support cleaning, disinfecting and littering. So most of our work is essential. We do not do any work related to aesthetics.
– We divided the staff into two teams to minimize employees on campus. We have dropped services from weekly to every other week. We are essential employees only in that we are trying to remove debris and maintain a clean building for our COVID-19 researchers. We also need to have an eye on the entire campus while it is empty.
– We do have about 200 students sheltered in place on campus. This approach is in keeping with State guidelines on essential work.
– Our HR department has also provided letters/memos to law enforcement for all essential staff to have with them for commuting purposes if necessary, which they can pair with their essential employee designation letter (re-issued at beginning of pandemic by University leadership, specific to the pandemic circumstances).
– We’re only providing staffing for essential services like emptying trash cans, litter and disinfecting outdoor touch points like handrails, etc. Crews have been split up, and they are working different days and practicing social distancing from each other and other staff and what remaining students are on campus.
– They are essential, but we have reduced on-site staff to no more than 6 or 7 per day for four days. Construction repair, Pest Control, Mechanics, Arborist, Welding, Storm water management and Irrigation staff are on 24/7 on-call status. Administrative staff monitor emergency and other work tasks from home and issue e-mail or phone alerts to management for response needs.
– All facilities staff are deemed essential. As such, we have documentation if there were any real enforcement of the shelter in place orders. Allowing telework for those who can do it has greatly reduced staffing on campus, all classes are now online, so that’s eliminated student contact and reduced faculty contact. We’ve shortened the work week for all essential staff, and staggered the work week so that all days are covered with minimal essential staff on campus.
What are the most pressing challenges that your grounds/landscaping unit is currently trying to solve?
Summary of the most pressing challenges respondents face right now:
- Overwhelming sense of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty about the future which is unknown at this time
- Concern around continuing to maintain safety practices and continue social distancing
- Challenges around the one person per vehicle requirement for social distancing
- Concern over PPE shortages
- Fear of contracting COVID-19 at home or work
- Managing family challenges (childcare issues, illness, children learning at home, etc.) that impact work
- Concern over the ability to recruit temporary employees (student labor is the big concern here)
- Concerns with keeping up during the mowing season (this is directly related to the item above)
- Uncertainty around fall enrollment numbers
- How to keep campus grounds groomed with greatly reduced staffing levels
- How to handle budget reductions/restrictions
- How to balance workload demands with staffing shortages
- Concern over impending layoffs/furloughs/freezes
- Escalating morale issues
- How to keep up with mowing/weeding/pest control and all the other growth issues that come with Spring
- Concerns around reducing or stopping all beautification/landscaping efforts
- Concern around keeping up expected service levels (the item above is a component in this factor)
- Concern over having to move in to “damage mitigation” mode exclusively instead of focusing on beautification/landscaping
Some specific examples from the survey responses:
– Determining when will this threat end. Trying to determine if contractor schedules will be filled and what to plan for. Going blindly in to the future where we have never been before. How to handle personnel challenges as we anticipate the next 12-18 months. What will the university look like in the Fall? The shortened timeframe before move-in (will there be a move-in)?
– Convincing administration that landscapes, fields, weed control, etc. still need to continue as it will cost more to get them back in shape if we stop. Keeping morale high as folks see their peers being furloughed. Helping some understand why they are “essential” when campus seems like a ghost town.
– Trying to keep campus as respectable looking/as well maintained as we can with only 50 percent of our work force on campus each week while protecting the health of all. We are maintaining a 400 acre campus with a staff of 7 full time employees and a couple of student employees. The rotational schedule will be a significant challenge moving forward into this year.
– Planning for essential only services. This will mean no beautification; only mowing, weeding and maintenance. We hope to get more long term work out of the way as it is allowed under the restrictions.
– Defining what core work is necessary and what work is nice to have given a reduced daily workforce. Operating on a reduced operating budget.
– How to provide the required emergency work, the regular maintenance work and the extensive seasonal horticultural care needed to maintain the long term safety and viability of a healthy landscape within the limited scope of allowed work while keeping staffers healthy mentally and physically.
– We are a unionized workforce with a labor contract. The labor contract was written for campus closures with snow events in mind, not prolonged pandemics. This has required discussion with the union as to how to allow staff to return to work to maintain our grounds without the university paying triple time.
– Deferring spring maintenance and seasonal bedding plant change outs. Staff may not be back in time to plant summer displays. Weeds are starting to proliferate. Some staff are feeling that they aren’t able to contribute because they have to remain at home.
– Concern for team members’ mental health and financial realities as they go into unpaid statuses. Maintaining the campus aesthetic that our students, staff, faculty, and visitors have come to expect during the growing season with minimal staff. Ensuring we can start up again in short order once we get the green light if/when the ground/landscaping staff isn’t furloughed?
– Weighing justification to continue regular fertilizer applications, pre-emergent herbicides and growth regulators. Developing a recovery plan for when Stay At Home restrictions are lifted. Example: How do we bring back the full team and continue to protect our people and ability to service campus. What does that look like?
– Morale. Facility people are planners that create and work from schedules. This is difficult as nothing is able to be planned beyond a few days. We are capitalizing on having a closed campus but it is still winter and weather dictates much of what grounds can do.
– Maintenance of sport fields. Letting conditions or standards decline can be a huge financial impact after the COVID-19. Weed control of landscape areas. We have also been putting down pre-emergent to help control weed growth. We are having our limited staff go through sections and hand pull large flower weeds.
– The campus has become a “public park” for individuals practicing social distancing in the town to exercise and walk. We’re balancing the expectations of the grounds care standard with the reality of a reduced on site workforce.
1) Weeds grow better than the grass when not treated.
2) Everything is growing and we cannot mow it, weed wipe it etc…
3) Some staff do not want come in.
Keeping up with campus expectations using reduced staff. Trying to abide by social distancing and following essential personnel guidelines, when they change often.
Currently wondering how we are going to cope with planting all the material we order; ordinarily this is done by a small army of volunteers in one day.
Given the current challenge, what are some ways you are keeping morale high among your grounds/landscaping staff?
Summary of ways respondents are keeping morale high:
- Maintaining frequent communication through phone calls/emails/Zoom meetings
- Offering paid leave/hazard pay/overtime for regular work hours/stipend or bonuses for working 20+ hours a week
- Several stated they were just happy to have a job at this point
- Reducing work hours while still providing full pay
- Offering rotating or flex schedules
- Ensuring safety of workers and providing plenty of PPE options
- Allowing staff to catch up on sidelined projects or choose their own projects
- Buying staff lunches or snacks regularly
- Sending staff personal “Thank You” notes from other department heads
- Offering more online personal and professional development training options
- Several stated they would rather be at work than at home doing nothing
Some specific examples from the survey responses:
– Recognition that this is an historical event both at work and at home. Providing guidance that ourmandate before, now and after the pandemic is and always will be the provision of safe, secure, clean and healthy learning, living, social and living environments. Confirming that we are professionals and must balance between operational delivery and continuous improvement. After ensuring assigned on-campus tasks are completed, and most importantly in consultation with each employee, management is assigning each employee to pre-pandemic approved continuous improvement and/or employee engagement projects. Feedback from employees is that they are grateful to be acknowledged as contributing to our mandate in extraordinary ways in an extraordinary time.
– We do shout out photos featuring the university staff website of projects that Landscape and Grounds is doing and recognize the staff who are continuing to do the work. We have days were the director buys ice cream and all the fixings for social distancing socials across the shop. The biggest way to improve morale is to communicate with facts from CDC or the local health department and provide information they can share with their family about the virus. Trust is the biggest morale builder.
– Staying mission focused (serving students and research), leadership meets with small groups regularly, leadership fostering open and honest conversation, providing meal cards, providing consistent and relevant PPE, SOP and training, doing small remodeling projects/creative projects, cross-training skills, focusing on the beauty of nature around us, fostering kindness and understanding between team members, providing guidance to frontline managers on having difficult conversations.
– Having them assist on move-outs to help open up apartments for medical staff, etc. thus helping them feel they are contributing to fighting the pandemic.
– We are able to complete jobs which were challenging before, because of pedestrian and vehicle traffic. These include street sweeping and pothole repair. We are also able, due to decreased client demand, able to spend more time in the greenhouse to prepare plant material for the upcoming season. Being able to complete these tasks with little (or less) time pressure greatly increases job satisfaction for the staff.
– Walking campus every day – visiting folks working across campus- saying hello and thanking them sincerely for their hard work and telling them how much I appreciate them.
– Bi-weekly briefings for ‘transparency’ with shout outs for exceptional work.
– Being a small institution, our Grounds staff is typically pulled in many directions and is not able to fully dedicate themselves to traditional grounds/landscaping duties. The Grounds crew has been on campus and able to perform landscaping duties (while appropriately socially distancing) for a larger portion of the day than they otherwise would be able to do. This fact alone has increased morale. Grounds staff are also able to watch webinars and research other best practices while working from home. So while COVID-19 has impacted the College’s ability to complete many projects, it has enabled our grounds crew to get ahead in some areas that they would otherwise would not have had time to do.
– Our staff recognizes the state mandate for work at home has a caveat that the work CAN be done from home. Obviously, grounds and landscaping cannot. We are being liberal with vacation requests, and otherwise keeping folks focused on jobs we can’t usually get to when customers are on campus. For example, we are rebuilding the softball infield surface, which the staff has wanted to do for a while, but was unable to schedule.
– Walk the campus about every other day and stop and ask how they are. Walk to the shops about every other morning and say hello – at a distance of course. The University has been a bit slow to put out information so as soon as I know something I take it to them directly. I want them to hear it from me not some second hand source.
– Tackling jobs that are not usually possible at this time of year. Some are never possible due to campus population being around. Parking lots are empty so we’re able to clean up winter debris completely with no cars in the way. This gives staff a sense of accomplishment and some satisfaction seeing a job done well.
– Providing liberal leave and allowing up to 10 hours of self-guided training away from campus. Staying connected with them on a personal level. Checking in on them and their family’s well-being personally.
– The crew seem to be enjoying the fact that their efforts are longer lasting given that no one is on campus to mess things up. No feet trampling the grass, hardly any liter or trash to patrol, and they can blow or trim without having to stop for people passing by nearly as often. The campus has hardly ever looked better…just so few here to appreciate it…
– Routine Zoom meetings and morale-building emails to ensure regular communication and transparency. Calling team members just to check in. Showing our team they are essential by providing guidance and strategic restructuring to ensure business continuity.
– I do share some of the many funny COVID-19 memes coming out there, as humor is a great way to deal with a really bleak situation.
– Bluetooth headphones and three way calls, so we can work at a distance but still feel like we’re working together. We usually share jokes and music while pulling weeds and trimming bushes.
– We have created bi-weekly packets of educational materials for “work at home” opportunities within our field. ISA arborist reading material, planting and pruning material, turf care material… etc. We also are offering a chance for people to get certified (or recertified) with pesticide applicator licenses. We try to reach out with texting and encourage them to do the same with each other. We had a “parking lot mini-meeting” during the last packet pick up, and it was just good to see everybody. – Allow them to shop for groceries early in the morning before the grocery shelves are empty without charging leave time. Allowing them to stay home and take care of their own or family member health issues without charging leave. Have a fund set aside by managers to provide a one-time cash award for those who lost a second income.
How do you plan to ramp up grounds/landscaping services and staffing after COVID-19?
Summary of ways respondents plan to ramp up after COVID-19:
- Move back to a full week schedule
- Move back to full staffing
- No change/Unknown/Review as needed/Will remain as-is
- Staffing levels will be determined by budgets/financial impacts
- Continue social distancing measures by retaining staggered/split/rotating/phased shifts
- Continue to provide adequate PPE
- Continue with communicating digitally and minimizing close contact
- Will add temporary staff/student workers/contractors (a lot concern was expressed around hiring students and whether temp workers would be available to work)
- Higher priority areas (i.e. athletics) will be contracted out because there is too much backlog for potentially reduced staffing to catch up on quickly
- Standards of care will be lowered
- Address all the neglected areas during the pandemic
- Wait and see and follow federal/state/local guidance
- Focus on and determine the top priorities first
- Re-evaluate priorities
- Reduce plantings
- Work to reduce new work requests and event prep/set up
Some specific examples from the survey responses:
– I would imagine it will be phased in based on the orders from the governor or president. Start with the most pressing issues that face us. Trash, graffiti, transient camps. Then look at protecting the most vulnerable plant material. This would be plant material that has not fully established yet or is highly exposed to the elements. Pruning will only be done if there is a safety issue such as blocking a sign or clearance on a sidewalk. Turf cultural practices will be reduced. Aeration and over seeding will take a back seat and only be done in high viability and high use areas. Mowing will stay reduced as well.
– We will most likely bring staff back on site but not hold group meetings for a while. We will ask all staff to practice social distancing, wipe down tools and equipment, etc. We will concentrate on basic maintenance to bring landscapes back to acceptable levels such as weeding, litter pickup, etc. After that, we will try to install any seasonal displays as time allows and then defer any areas we don’t get to until the next season.
– The ramp up will include remedial work to recover those areas of the campus left without care. We will combine crews for short bursts to do this remedial work and we are exploring automation to assist with some work where possible.
– It’s anticipated that there will be furloughs and dismissals commensurate with the losses in revenues and enrollment. It is anticipated that no ramp up will be possible and that we will be having to make due with even less staffing than present.
– No hiring, no seasonal, replacing open slots and no increased spending on contractor support. It will take all year to catch up. We cut out all flower plantings and any other improvements. – It depends if we outsource the planting bed maintenance. If not outsourced, we will need to focus staff resources on addressing beds in a priority order (most publicly visible to least publicly visible). Mowing will be regulated chemically with herbicide and growth regulators.
Results from APPA’s FM-Related Survey on COVID-19 Campus Procedures
Below are the responses to the APPA FM-Related Survey on COVID-19 Campus Procedures which closed 4/2/20. For your convenience, we’ve captured both a summary of the responses, as well as provided a complete list of the answers as they were provided to us.
Click here for an infographic snapshot of the “yes/no” responses that were also gathered in this survey.
How are you currently screening your staff? What specific processes or procedures have you put in place?
Summary of ways respondents are currently screening staff:
- Temperature checks
- Self-monitoring/screening for symptoms
Summary of specific processes or procedures respondents have put in place:
- Have you traveled internationally within the last 14 days?
- Are you showing any symptoms today? (e.g. Fever equal to or greater than 100.4°F, Coughing, Shortness of Breath)
- Are you residing with any individual who has a fever (equal to or greater than 100.4°F), is presumed positive, or in a 14-day quarantine?
If ANY of the above questions are responded with a “Yes”:
-Employee: Please follow up with your Supervisor
-Non‐Employee: Please follow up with Administrator
Sample Screening Questions for Symptoms:
• Temperature above 100° F
• Difficulty breathing
• Cough, nasal congestion or sore throat that is different than normal
baseline and with symptoms that are not mild or infrequent
What processes and procedures are you using to stagger shifts?
Summary of how respondents are implementing processes and procedures to stagger shifts:
- Split crews
- Skeleton crews
- Reduced staffing
- Reduced hours
- Staggered shifts
- Teams of 2 practicing social distancing
- Alternating staff on different days
- Shift adjustments to reduce interaction during clocking in and out
- Rolling shifts
- Staff assigned to specific buildings
- Split workforce (half work from home/half on call)
- “One day on/One day off” rotating schedules
Detailed Accounts of Processes and Procedures to Stagger Shifts:
- Our physical campuses are closed, with academic offerings now online. Access to the three physical campuses is controlled/limited to one or two doors per campus only. Security manages access using lists of management-authorized critical employees (lists shared weekly with union leadership). For shifts, we have a three-tiered set-up. Tier 1 – Skeletal manning during normal hours of operation of the plant and utilities (one operator, one electrician, one controls technician and one manager). Tier 2 – a call-in capability for mechanical and electrical coordinators plus limited numbers of plumbers, carpenters, and handymen. Tier 3 – call-in remainder of team subject to health guidelines, as well as essential contracted services. For custodial services, we have added a Touch Crew (wearing a different colored shirt so they stand out) who focus on hard touch points (elevator buttons, door handles, hand rails, table tops etc.) but day/evening/night shifts remain as normal to allow for deep and more frequent cleaning/sanitization to hospital standards. Custodial services may shift depending on duration of campus closures.
- We’ve implemented a rotating schedule in which only a core group of operations & maintenance staff are on campus on any given day to provide essential inspection, monitoring, cleaning, preventative maintenance, repairs and oversight of contractors. Remaining staff are at home on-call if required for an emergency. Staff at home are provided take-home work and online training assignments where possible. Everyone rotates between on-campus work and at-home on-call. The percentage of staff on campus on any given day varies by crew depending on the crew size and nature of work. Most trades crews have 25% working on campus. Custodial is targeting 50% as on-campus activity is significantly reduced. All staff are currently being paid full-time salary.
- I manage the Central Shops. Paint/Carpentry/Electrical & Plumbing. 48 employees. We stagger start times from 6:00 – 8:30 in all shops to maintain social distancing. We have taken the checkout keys back to shops to avoid congregation in the common hallways where keys were accessed. We communicate via mobile devices in the field and not morning tailgate meetings.
- Our entire business office (call center, work center) is working remotely from home. (8 employees) The “trades” have one person on campus on weekdays. This is rotated through the shop. An on-call technician is also available after hours. Custodial services are limiting their services to 2 hours a day in the buildings that are opened and only one person works in each building.
- We have created two separate teams: trades and staff that will never interface. Most of the staff are working remotely, but on-call for emergencies. Individuals are assigned routes to walk in order to perform walk throughs of high voltage substations, buildings, mechanical rooms, and roofs to ensure there are no equipment failures or leaks.
- We have a day and evening shift. The staff is only allowed to work on one person jobs. Only one person in a vehicle. No commuting together to work. Staggered time in lunch rooms, or not even going back to lunch rooms. Our stores are locked down. Only stores personnel are allowed. The main plant is off limits to everyone except the people that work in the plant.
Which key supplies are you experiencing shortages on and how are you addressing these shortages?
Summary of key supplies respondents are experiencing shortages on (listed in no particular order):
- Hand sanitizer
- N95 masks/dust masks
- Tyvek suits/gowns
- Wipes: Clorox/3M #15/Purell/Lysol/Oxivir
- Disinfectants: Clorox 360, Oxivir, Virex, Re-Juv-Nal, GoJo, 2000ml Lysol, End Bacc II
- Gloves (Nitrile etc.)
- Spray Nozzles
- Fogging Machines
- Electrostatic Sprayers
- Paper Goods
- Variety of construction related materials
Summary of how shortages are being addressed:
We are monitoring the EPA list of approved chemicals that is linked on the CDC website. In addition to researching online for available vendors/supplies, we are also working closely with our regular vendors. The EPA list opened some new avenues for consideration, e.g. veterinary disinfectants.
It has been nearly impossible to get hand sanitizer. Instead, we put together “hand wash kits” for those without routine access to a sink. These kits include a Ziploc bag with a small bottle of hand soap (that can be refilled) and some paper towels, plus a 1-gallon cooler that can be filled with water so that hands can be washed outside the truck or van. (When summer comes, we will re-purpose the coolers for ice water or Gatorade!)
Hand sanitizer is in extremely short supply. Our supplier can’t give a good estimate on when it will be available. We encourage all staff to wash hands instead of using sanitizer because it is the preferred method to avoid COVID-19. Disinfectant wipes (30 second kill) are also difficult to obtain. So, we use our standard quarantine disinfectant (10 minute dwell). Our standard nitrile gloves are also hard to find but we’ve been able to supplement with food service gloves.
Wipes and masks are short supply. We were using Oxivir but supplies are on back order. We trained all personnel in the use of pest control mist/foggers by our pest control partner. The Sterilab product used in these devices which is 90% alcohol, quickly sanitizes areas. We have one currently lent to us as well as additional cases of the product. We have purchased two more electric “foggers” arriving this week from our pest control provider. We have also purchased numerous spray bottles to provide departments with a sanitizer and this will be used by facilities as they’re cleaning areas on campus. If Oxivir is low, mix 9 parts water to one part Clorox. Instead of 30 seconds, the Clorox solution takes 5 minutes to activate. Buildings are in lockdown. Use of badge is the only way to obtain access to buildings.
Disinfectant, hand sanitizer, and non-latex gloves are very difficult to find. To minimize impact, once spaces have been cleaned, they are locked and a sign is posted to alert potential users that they cannot access these areas. So far, based on the campus being fully online with a stay at home order throughout the state, this has been effective.
Click here to see the detailed and unedited responses to this question.
How are you specifically addressing and handling any mental health issues connected to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Summary of ways that respondents are specifically addressing and handling any mental health issues connected to the COVID-19 pandemic:
University Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). EAPs are programs that include a network of services to help you and your household family members cope with everyday life issues.
Secondary Response: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Ways to Constantly Communicate:
- Free meetings via Zoom with our Employee Assistance Vendor. Free one-on-one sessions via Zoom with qualified caregivers from our Employee Assistance Vendor. Weekly Town Hall/Q&A Meetings with the President, his cabinet, and other key personnel. Zoom groups for socializing that meet regularly and are focused on a certain topic, like how to work from home with kids or how to stay healthy at home.
- Daily “coffee meetings” via Zoom. Also, we are conducting weekly team meetings to allow open discussion of COVID-19 concerns. Additionally, I’ve directed all leaders to reach out to their individual team members on at least an every-other-day basis. Outreach is specifically to include those on any category of leave without pay (e.g. maternity and paternity leave).
- In addition to existing counseling programs, we have a wellness center offering online wellness classes. More frequent discussion in zoom meetings about how each of us is doing. In-person small group sessions with our senior leader, HR, MD, and EHS. Virtual town hall meetings with senior administrators and open forum meetings on working from home.
- University counseling centers/Mental health centers
- Free external counseling services
- Myriad mental health resources
- 24 hour help/hotlines
How are you managing outside contractors on campus?
Summary of how respondents are managing outside contractors on campus:
All CDC/OSHA and state/local/provincial guidelines must be followed and adhered to.
Risk mitigation/safety plans and protocols around COVID-19 specifically are being required. These plans/protocols may be prepared by either the contractors or campus staff.
Capital project personnel on a campus may collect plans/protocols from the contractors and will have either project managers or general maintenance staff on campus manage compliance according to agreed upon terms. In some cases, contractors will develop the plans and self-manage their crew.
Risk Mitigation Practices:
- Social distancing (6 ft. apart currently) is being followed.
- Crew and staff schedules are staggered to limit exposure
- Crews are required to check in with facilities staff or campus police and show valid ID’s. As part of the check-in process, temperature checks and/or visual checks are mandatory.
- Crew movement has been restricted by keeping many areas on campus locked and secure to minimize risk. Entrances/exits have been greatly reduced. Those areas that are left open, are monitored closely and cleaned regularly. (People have devised multiple ways to determine where contractor activity has taken place in a building to facilitate disinfection quickly.)
- Crew and staff levels have been reduced to “essential” workers.
- Self-isolation is encouraged
- PPE is provided and is seen as critical
- Extra hand washing stations have been provided on the job site
- EHS conducts periodic inspections on the job site
- Only outdoor projects are allowed on some campuses
- Crew and staff drive their own personal vehicles while on the job site
- Trash is removed daily
- Job site is cleaned frequently with approved chemicals/disinfectant
- Meetings between all parties are now held virtually
- Only essential or emergency repairs and projects are conducted on campus
Results from Construction Survey
The graphic below was created based on responses to the FM-Related Survey on COVID-19 Campus Procedures survey, and the Joint Construction Owner Coronavirus Survey (collaboration of APPA, COAA, and NASFA).