Greetings and good wishes from IAB!
We are going through a period of uncertainty and concern caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.
A very logical concern among architects in Bangladesh now is about how to react in terms of office operations and practice. It is a fact that each architectural practice has its unique circumstances and work process. Also, the situation concerning spread of the virus is changing rapidly. Acknowledging these factors, IAB offers the following suggestions to its members.
A. Good Hygiene Practices
Most of us are already aware about the importance of maintaining personal hygiene and cleanliness. It is advised that we verify the sources of all information before following or sharing it. Information from WHO [www.who.int] and CDC [www.cdc.gov] can be relied upon.
At our workplaces, we are arriving from different locations using different forms of transports. It is important that more the risk of exposure, the more careful we need to be when entering office. Extra caution is required if we are using ride sharing options. Having a personal helmet for motorcycle users is essential.
B. Limit Exposure
It is absolutely essential that we stop going to places of gathering and avoid public places as much as possible. It has been proven that social distancing is a key element to avoid contracting the virus. At our practices, we should minimize the number of meetings by adopting alternatives options like video conference etc. Software that allow screen sharing options have been available since long and they allow us to have online meetings that require drawings to be referred to.
Limiting number of visitors to our offices should be priority and this should include everyone including clients, representatives, messengers, vendors, off-site team members and personal guests.
Our colleagues who need to go outside frequently should be facilitated and supported in a way that the number of visits are minimal or zero. Site visits may be undertaken if only they are unavoidable. Offices who prepare lunch in kitchens within the premises should take extra care in cleaning and maintenance. Kitchen staff who need to go to wet markets for shopping should follow cleansing protocols after returning from such places.
We should suspend all international and domestic travel unless it is an emergency.
Anyone with primary symptoms of cough, fever and shortness of breath should not come to office and self-isolate. When we require self-isolation, we should act responsibly and follow the guidelines strictly.
C. Work Remotely
The nature of our profession requires us to work in cooperation with persons from various other allied fields. Hence, closing down office operations and working from home may not be a realistic option for many of us. If circumstances allow, we should explore the feasibility of working from home. This involves access to necessary hardware, software and internet facility. Remote desktop software can be effective tool in situations like this.
D. Practice & Encourage Flexibility
Nothing is more important than health. In managing our works and deadlines, we should allow ourselves and others flexibility during this difficult period. We should accept that only precautions can prevent a disaster affecting us and prioritize on health issues on top of everything else.
E. Act Responsible
As architects are among the most responsible citizens of the country, we need to act responsibly and encourage others to do so. When taking any decision that concerns our practice, workplace and colleagues, we should make sure that we are not acting hastily and are considering the entirety of the issue. Our personal decisions should consider the greater wellbeing of our community. Let us not try to protect only ourselves, but others as well.
On behalf of the 23rd Executive Committee of the Institute of Architects Bangladesh, I assure all architects of all possible support. Let us remain prepared for the worst but hope and pray that it does not happen.
Ar. Jalal Ahmed, FIAB
Institute of Architects Bangladesh (IAB)