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Mutual efforts see CAA partnership thrive

23 December 2021

Implementing any new contract can prove to be a testing time for any FM partnership, but adding the major disruptive elements emerging from the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic can be seen to increase the number of potential issues exponentially.

This was the case when Salisbury Group began its contract with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) two years ago, which requires the company to manage the client’s Gatwick headquarters and four other facilities around England.

Salisbury Group account director Ian Catton states that while many FMs and service providers are now much more aware of the main aspects to consider, this was not the case when the Covid-19 virus emerged at the beginning of 2020.

“We’d just taken over the contract with CAA when Covid hit, which made things even more interesting, to say the least,” says Mr Catton.

“The focus on health and safety increased massively, at the time when we were still getting to know each other.”

The health and safety focus additionally included considerable effort from the company to ensure that the Aviation House facility was as safe as possible for staff and visitors.

Proof of the success of these efforts can be seen in the fact that the client has credited these with playing a major role in assisting the safe reopening of other facilities around the country.

In line with Salisbury Group’s commitment to understanding customer satisfaction, regular face to face surveys are carried out by its client services director Olivia Abbott. This approach received a positive response from CAA, with the results used to update service delivery where necessary through gaining greater understanding of the specific needs of the customer.

These efforts have also been further appreciated by the client, which has credited them with allowing it to focus on delivering improvements in other areas.

With the partners approaching the end of the second year of the five-year contract at the time of PFM’s visit, with growing numbers of staff returning to the Gatwick office, the relationship between the two sides continues to celebrate success, enabled by the high levels of collaboration and communication.

This seems to have resulted from considerable effort from both sides to deal with the demands of the first lockdown in March 2020, continuing in the interim period to react to further developments.

“There’s now much more focus on cleaning, covering both Covid-related operations and ordinary cleaning tasks,” Mr Catton continues. “We make sure there’s a cleaning operative on site throughout all office hours, making sure that all touch points are cleaned regularly and provide reassurance that the building is safe to attend and seeing a cleaner is a big part in that.”

Cleaning is just one element of the CAA contract and the company additionally provides maintenance, security, front of house and grounds maintenance services for the client. Many of these had to be rapidly adapted at the outset of the partnership to assist in efforts to deal with the pandemic.

“Attendance numbers dropped from between 500 and 600 people attending before Covid to approximately 35 during the first lockdown,” says Mr Catton.

“We’ve made sure that all staff continued to be well supported while working from home, in addition to making sure that the building is safe and ready to use if they need to attend the office.”

In addition to closing 35% of the desks at the Gatwick CAA headquarters and ensuring that those in use are cleaned daily, Salisbury Group has also introduced the use of laminated signs to indicate whether desks are ‘clean’ and ready for use, or ‘dirty’ and awaiting cleaning.

“That’s just one example of Salisbury’s response to the pandemic and it’s been very rewarding to receive a lot of recognition from the CAA for these,” says Mr Catton.

Additional measures introduced in response to the Covid-19 virus have included use of the Zoono antibacterial spray product throughout the building and coloured wrist bands that can be worn by staff members to show colleagues whether they are happy to be approached, wary of getting too close to others or continuing to practice social distancing.

Mr Catton states that the wristbands have been welcomed by the CAA and staff members alike.

Coloured wrist bands show everyone's attitude toward Covid-19.

“Alongside the various changes we’ve made, we’re continuing to discuss with the CAA how we manage the building, which is more than 35 years old,” Mr Catton continues. “This will see our new way of working, to include more collaborative space, combine with five major projects in the New Year.”

The five projects include: improved waste collection, an important aspect of which is confidential waste; chiller replacement; LED lighting installations; solar panel installation; and replacing the building’s transformer.

All of these will involve high levels of communication between the CAA and Salisbury Group to ensure the projects meet the client’s objectives and fit in with the building’s new way of working where appropriate.

An example of this is the LED and solar panel installations, which will require collaboration with the CAA Environmental Department, with both partners suggesting the best means to complete these and meet the sustainability aims of the business.

Mr Catton states that his company’s Salisbury’s special projects team will play a major role in discussions and delivery of the schemes and he regards this as another valuable resource.

“We’re also encouraging team members to become more involved with multi-tasking, which can be a little tricky to manage at first but we’ve very lucky in having a great team of people here and staff retention levels are very good,” he continues.

“Our security guards now check that the waste bins have been emptied on their rounds and also reports other issues to colleagues and we’re looking at other areas where team members can complete complementary tasks.”

He further explains that there are many areas where updates and improvements will be needed within the next few years and is highly appreciative of the benefits of dealing with “a very understanding client”.

Having established a good level of communication with the CAA, Mr Catton believes this will enable both sides to continue to collaborate to achieve the best outcomes in the years ahead.

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