McGill Alert / Alerte de McGill

Updated: Thu, 07/18/2024 - 18:12

Gradual reopening continues on downtown campus. See Campus Public Safety website for details.

La réouverture graduelle du campus du centre-ville se poursuit. Complément d'information : Direction de la protection et de la prévention.

New Priorities and Innovative Operations for Buildings and Grounds

The Buildings and Grounds Department’s mission is to “provide the McGill downtown campus community with an environment that is clean, safe and functional.” To do that, we have six units who take care of day-to-day operational tasks that keep the campus running smoothly:  

  • Building Services encompasses the campus janitorial services,  
  • Grounds Services is our landscaping and horticultural team in the outdoor campus spaces,  
  • Garage Services maintains university vehicles,  
  • Events Support Services provides the operational support and equipment rentals for the campus’ special events,  
  • Mail Services receives and delivers the mail for the university, and  
  • Printing Services runs the McGill print shop on the campus.  

How has the last half year changed things for your team? 

In typical times, our work is quite standardized. While there is some seasonal variation to our operations, our team’s tasks are typically repeated on a regular cycle.   

In the pandemic, all of that has changed. With campus activity levels in constant flux, and new departmental responsibilities, our employees have adapted to changing workloads, new instructions, and short deadlines. All of this while respecting safety protocols that change the way much of their regular work is done.  

This challenge has allowed our team to further develop their agility, cooperation and communication and we are proud of the work that we have accomplished to keep the McGill campus as safe as possible. 

Has COVID-19 changed priorities?  

Primarily, many of our services are considered essential and have been operating throughout this closure. This posed many challenges, especially at the beginning when there was so much uncertainty because keeping our employees safe was always the top priority.  

Our department has taken over many additional pandemic-related responsibilities.  

  • Our Printing Services team designs and prints all COVID-19 safety signage and 2m floor decals, and our Events Support team oversees their installation across all buildings.   
  • Our custodial stockroom has become the central PPE supplier for the entire university, receiving orders and delivering masks, gloves, and disinfectant across both campuses.  
  • Additionally, we oversee new delivery hubs in key zones throughout the campus. Our team set up stations where they receive goods and coordinate with building occupants to get the packages to the proper recipients.  
  • Finally, when buildings become active, our custodial team disinfects “high touch points” (doorknobs, elevator buttons, , etc.) in common spaces every 2-hours  and during nightly cleaning.  

What is the new reality of campus? How has it changed? What should employees expect when they return? 

Maintaining a safe environment requires everyone’s collaboration, and employees should expect many safety measures upon their return.  Before coming in every day, employees must fill out a questionnaire on Minerva confirming that they are not showing symptoms, have not been in contact with an infected individual, and have not left the country. Once they arrive, masks are mandatory inside buildings, and floor decals and signage have been installed to help everyone respect distancing and safety protocols. Finally, employees should make sure to frequently wash their hands with soap throughout the day (or sanitizer from one of many distributors if there isn’t a washroom nearby).  

Do you have any tips for staying connected as a team? Any insights or lessons learned? 

From the beginning of the pandemic, our supervisors made sure that all 200+ employees were receiving a call at least twice a week to check in and fill them in on the status of things at McGill. Even though many of our team members were at home at first, we wanted to be sure that they feel connected and supported. 

As for the management and supervisory team, they hold a team meeting via Microsoft Teams every two weeks to catch up. Having a more casual Teams channel where staff can share news, jokes, and funny pictures definitely helps keep everyone smiling in this stressful period! 

Do you have any moments throughout COVID-19 that shine through on your team ? 

There are so many members of the Buildings and Grounds team who have shone in the past few months!  

As an essential service, our supervisors, custodians, mailroom employees, and groundspeople have continued to show up on campus and work safely throughout the pandemic period - even during the height of the lockdown. We are so proud of and thankful for our amazing team.  

Finally, we owe a big thank you to our Director, George Lazaris, who has been working around the clock to keep the campus running throughout the pandemic. Successfully overseeing six operational teams, whose mandates are readjusted almost daily as the campus activity fluctuates up and down, is no small feat. He has also been collaborating closely with dozens of stakeholders to make sure that our team can quickly react to changing needs on campus. Members of the McGill community who are on campus are able to return to a clean, safe and functional environment thanks to his dedication, adaptability, and great leadership.

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