Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Meeting 8: Hitting the restart button

Last Wednesday the Premier and Provincial Health Officer presented BC’s Restart Plan, a four-phase approach to slowly reengage our broader economy. The plan focusses on three areas of action:

  1. Personal Care
  2. Social Interaction
  3. Economic activity

Beginning next week, when we enter phase 2 of the restart plan, we are being asked to base our actions on five principles:

  1. Personal Hygiene – hand washing, use of personal protective equipment
  2. Stay Home if You Are Sick – self-isolation for travellers and anyone with symptoms
  3. Environmental Hygiene – touchless technology and increased efficacy and frequency of cleaning
  4. Safe Social Interactions – limited in-person contact, outdoor over indoor and physical distancing
  5. Physical Modifications – barriers, movement within shared spaces and room design

For essential services – like consulting engineering firms – many of the measures discussed in the plan are already in place. We are operating with increased levels of hygiene, physical distancing, and making use of technology to keep our teams safe and productive. As a result of the work we’ve already done we know that sending everyone home 8-weeks ago was a lot easier than trying to bring everyone back to the office.

As the province relaxes measures introduced in the Provincial Health Officer orders, the hard work of understanding who, if, how, and when we will begin transitioning back to the office is already in progress. Many firms have already developed return to office (RTO) plans including physical modification such as increased spacing between desks, closure of shared spaces, and the introduction of hygiene stations.

We are working together

Member firms met this week to talk about how we can support each other to develop consistent RTO plans. In the coming days we will release a member survey that considers common controls, work practices, and industry challenges. The survey results will be published along with select content from other agencies to support you to develop and benchmark individual plans.

Changing market

Focussing outward, we are learning about how the market is evolving to meet the challenges of the pandemic and the need for innovative thinking to address these challenges.

  • General Conditions: We are aware that many public sector owners have or will introduce new terms to address schedule and cost challenges. The Master Municipal Construction Documents Association MMCD and Canadian Construction Documents Committee have been approached to offer opinion and are actively developing their response.
  • Rethinking Design: As we consider the longer-term implications of the pandemic, many of the assumptions used in design with respect to behaviours may need to change. Innovative design approaches will be needed to adapt and ensure infrastructure is resilient.
  • Workforce: For many firms now is the time of year when new graduates and summer students are on-boarded. The shift to work-from-home and uncertainty about the market have resulted in fewer opportunities for both new graduates and students. We are receiving a high number of requests from individuals and academies looking for placements. As restrictions ease and with additional support through the Canada Summer Jobs program some firms may find capacity to recommit to investment in the talent pipeline. Please reach out to us if we can help.

Our team continues to work hard to support members through our advocacy and offering opportunities for members to engage virtually through our Wednesday Lunch & Learn webinar series:

Questions? Concerns?We want to hear from you. Submit your comments and issues through the ACEC-BC online feedback portal available on the ACEC-BC Resource Centre. Issues submitted will be forwarded to the Advisory Group for review and comment.

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