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The return to office is accompanied by a refocus on sustainability

Pushpa Dsouza, Director – Facilities, Morningstar India Pvt Ltd

The pandemic threw up not one but two mammoth asks of FM – creating a safe work environment that would convince employees to feel confident about returning to offices after months of work-from-home, as well as meeting sustainability goals that demanded a reduction in consumption of and spends on power and water. Pushpa Dsouza, Director – Facilities, Morningstar India Pvt Ltd breaks down the steps her team took to achieve both these goals.

Streamlining return-to-office

I joined Morningstar in 2021 during the Covid phase, so have worked majorly on employee experience and return-to-office. We focused on nurturing an atmosphere that improved employee productivity and collaborations, and generated and enhanced retention, by setting up attractive, efficient, innovative and functional workplaces, making it seamless for employees to achieve their business goals.

Return-to-office was a most challenging exercise. Many employees were not were not in favour of traveling to the office because they feel unsafe. To assuage their doubts, we got a video created with a complete walkthrough of the office, showcasing to employees the precautions we have taken to ensure their safety while they are in office.

We provided a sanitisation desk at all locations, and sanitised all floors regularly at different intervals keeping in mind the shift timings. We also provided lunch on the house and transport facilities to make their journey to the office simpler and stress free. We also did an indoor air quality audit to ensure we have pure and good air quality, ensuring a safe and healthy workplace environment. We have kept all these certificates at a visible place for employees to see.

Using our IT infrastructure, my team reached out to every employee, helping achieve zero business loss. A ready-to-help desk was available to them 24×7.

We have also tied up with budget hotels, guesthouses, service apartments, PGs and hostels for our employees who had to leave and go back to their hometowns during the pandemic, to help them settle back in Mumbai. Technology has been the key enabler to all our problems.

Managing space/desk allocation as per the business requirements, we are in the testing stage with a vendor to move to a technology-driven system for online desk/meeting room bookings. We are working towards a travel portal for all our travel needs.

With all these initiatives, we have managed to get 60% of our workforce back to office. We work in a hybrid model, with three days a week of work-from-office, but some of our employees want to be there five days a week!

Employee experience

Besides HR having done their bit, we at facilities management contributed to mental health initiatives by making it a point to interact with most employees on a daily basis to understand their needs and tried to help in whatever way we could: providing a vending machine with snacks ready to be dispensed with an ID card, creating recreational areas for collaboration (playing carrom, foosball, darts, pool etc), creating hurdle spaces at various locations and floors for team events etc.

Carbon footprint

Our India-level FM data – including carbon footprint measurement – is shared globally on a quarterly basis.

We worked on our energy consumption on a monthly basis. An electrical audit found that we had a bad power factor percentage due to which we got excess bills. We got an electrical consultant and worked on the electrical panels as per their suggestion to improve our power factor, adding great savings to our energy bills.

These interventions include installation with a retrofit option of 125K VAR automatic power factor control panel with 3CT controller panel in our APFC panels. The benefits are clearly visible in the latest electricity bill, because we have achieved the desired power factor i.e 0.99.

We also ensure that lights are off while not in use; we have trained all our staff and housekeeping/ janitors on the floors to be attentive and responsible. Currently, we are moving to all LED lights, thus increasing shelf life and saving on energy.

Water conservation

Water is most wasted in washrooms, especially at wash basins. We are working on using faucets with sensor technology, along with aerated taps. We do frequent checks for leaks in the valves and fittings to ensure there is no water loss.

We have moved to hand dryers in all our washrooms and encourage our employees to save paper by using less tissue papers.

Waste management

We have engaged with vendors who will use wet waste to convert it into fertiliser, and recycle dry waste into valuable items.

What did the indoor air quality audit include?

CO2 – American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends a minimum office building ventilation rate of 10 litres per person, corresponding to an approximate steady state indoor concentration of 870 ppm.

TVOC/other gases: 10 readings or more as per office floor plate. (Acceptable level: 300 to 500 ug/m3).

PM2.5/10: Dust Track Monitoring 10 readings or more as per office floor plate.

HCHO – Four readings or more as per office floor plate (The World Health Organization recommends levels below 100 ng/L or 80 ppb over a 30-minute exposure period)

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