How has our floor captain role changed during the coronavirus pandemic?
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On the frontline with… Dale Lipscombe, floor captain at Anabas
  • Dale Lipscombe, floor captain at Anabas, tells us about his role and how it has changed during the coronavirus pandemic…

Please tell us about your current role and responsibilities

I joined Anabas in July 2015 when I transferred from a previous FM company. I used to be a mailroom facilities assistant but became floor captain when I came across to Anabas. It was a big change as the roles are very different. There is so much more variety involved in being a floor captain. My role includes everything from stationery orders to restocking, printer servicing, mailroom duties, organising couriers for domestic and international collections, meeting room set-ups and changes, maintenance reporting to management and engineers and company inductions that include presentations about the facilities team and how the building works. I’m very much front-of-house so I’m always the first point of contact for any enquiries, requests or problems.

  • How has your role changed as a result of Covid-19? 

Initially, I spent a lot of time organising and sending out chairs and equipment to people who were working from home. People are very particular about their chairs. We had to find each individuals’ specific chair using floorplans, number them, clean them, ensure they were kept separate and not mixed up and wrap them for collection by the courier. We sent out over 200 chairs and the courier would collect eight at a time. We had to ensure social distancing measures were met so we couldn’t have chairs cramping up corridors either. This meant that meeting rooms were turned into temporary chair storage areas. It was quite an operation! Now we are waiting for the return of the chairs, so we’ll do everything in reverse.

Planning and marking out a one-way system around the building and putting up signage was another big job. We’ve put up thousands of signs! Measuring every two metres and sticking adhesive labels takes longer than you think. There were also a few floorplan changes, so it meant peeling off stickers and starting again in certain areas. As Government guidelines change and more people return to the office, we’ll need to do them again.

There are 69 meeting rooms in the building, but we’ve reduced use to just 15 as these were the only ones large enough for people to space apart. The rooms now all have separate tables with one chair behind each and they are fully equipped with PPE, hand sanitiser and anti-bac wipes. We’re operating a meeting room ‘track and trace’ system too so people have to register their details. After every use, the rooms are being cleaned so we’re working with the cleaning team to constantly monitor usage.

We’ve also had to close off desks making them unavailable for use. Benches that previously sat three people can now only sit one person. We’ve totally closed off some areas, and toilets with capacity for 10 people have been reduced to two people at a time and we’ve put up signage to educate people about this.  

As part of our front-of-house role, we’ll also be responsible for monitoring and reminding people about the one-way system.

  • What’s it been like working on the front-line during the crisis, particularly in buildings which are empty/ at reduced occupancy? 

It’s been very odd, and it’s been difficult to do everything via email. Usually, I see people face-to-face and I was finding that issues that could usually be resolved in 10 minutes could take a whole day via email. At one point there were only four of us in a building that caters for 500 so it was quite eerie. I’ve really missed the office atmosphere and seeing so many people. Having 42 people in the office now seems busy in comparison.

  • Do you think people’s perception of facilities management and your role will change as a result of the crisis? 

Yes, I think so. I think FM will be less taken for granted now as through this pandemic people have certainly noticed the work we put in and what exactly the facilities team does.

Senior management has been in every day since June and they can now see more of what we do – how the meeting rooms run, all the AV checks and cleaning we do. The work we do is a lot more visible now and there has been so much appreciation for that in the last few months.


  • What are you most looking forward to about the post-pandemic world?

I’m looking forward to having more freedom!

  • What positive things do you think we can take into the post-pandemic world?

People being more grateful and not taking things for granted. We are all more grateful for what we had pre-pandemic and that is a silver lining. The last few months have been a good time for reflection. Having my colleagues back has made me so grateful for having someone to work alongside. There’s a new-found appreciation that you get to have a routine again too.

  • What has been the highlight during your time at Anabas?

In February, our managing director, Alistair Craig, asked me to be part of a presentation to a potential new client. He asked me to talk through what a role model floor captain does. It was quite daunting but the fact he asked me to attend made me feel valued and proud.

  • What’s your favourite thing about working in FM?

It’s the team environment and spirit. We have great friendships and group WhatsApp chats – it feels like we have become a little work family. We’re all working to achieve the same goal and make our client happy. Nobody thinks something isn’t their job, we all muck in, resolve things together and get the job done.

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