A code of conduct or site etiquette is really a basic requirement for any firm whose staff members come into contact with the public. They should already be familiar with the concept of being polite, smart and helpful, and it should be a simple matter of formalising that fact by issuing an Internal Memo, to be read and noted by all personnel.
Based on the fact that you will not be included on a Tender List for most Landscape Architects and Garden Designers unless you have such formal documentation available – even if you are not currently working with such professionals, you probably will be one day, and therefore your work force should not be alarmed or offended in any way when you introduce the subject.
Why not start off with perhaps a dozen or so examples of good manners, entitled Site Etiquette. These will be second nature to most people, and when produced as a list, they will reinforce their existing conduct, and settle a few queries from past experience.
One – Arrive on time, on the due date, unless you have advised the client otherwise.
Two – Personnel to be clean and tidy, wearing uniform (if supplied), with all PPE as required.
Three – Radios and other forms of personal entertainment are prohibited including ear piece units due to noise and the safety of the operative and colleagues.
Four – All sheds and garages, buildings etc are not to be entered without the express permission and/or instructions from the client or their agent. Customers tools are not to be used without express permission from the client, at their own risk in respect of damage.
Five – Personnel may only use those toilet facilities provided by the company, or as directed by the client if a toilet facility is designated elsewhere on site.
Toilets shall be kept clean at all times, with sufficient cleaners and toilet paper available.
Six – Staff will act with decorum at all times.
Seven – Site to be kept clean and tidy at all times, especially at the end of the working day.
Eight – All equipment and tools shall be cleaned and stored tidily at the end of the working day.
Nine – Washing down may only take place in a designated area, ensuring that no soil or debris enters the drainage system.
Ten – Staff may only receive instructions from the company’s representative and should direct any enquiries from the client to that representative.
Eleven – Staff to respect the privacy of the customers as far as possible, especially during their leisure activities e.g. swimming or sunbathing.
Twelve – Staff to be mindful of other site users, including the client’s postman and delivery companies, and assist them as possible if the need arises – they too, have businesses to run.
Any of these examples may be expanded upon to suit your company, but they will provide you with a general guide.
As you can see, by adopting this Code of Conduct, a copy of which will be given to the client or their agent, there is nothing here that any reasonable operative could complain about. Indeed, by ensuring that the customer is made aware of the terms of conduct under which the staff are working, they will not expect to give instructions to the site staff, and therefore potentially undermine the contract documents, and the site foreperson may allude to the Code to avoid any misunderstandings.
Your company, and therefore your image, is only as good as the staff on site. Some of the horror stories I hear from clients regarding contractors on site are very demoralising.
Staff washing their private cars in ‘company’ time, using water without permission, blocking drains with cement after washing out the mixer every night for a week, playing football on the lawn, using the children’s playthings, bathing in the swimming pool and hot tub; these and many more ‘crimes’ invariably cause great friction between the client and the landscaper – simply because there was no Site Etiquette in place.
The smooth running of the site is paramount, therefore it is helpful to have one person in charge. That person should be named, and his/her details given to the customer, including mobile ‘phone number as the Site Foreperson. The foreperson should also be the site checker, ensuring that materials and equipment e.g. skips, arrive in a timely manner; that all materials arrive in the order they are required, in sufficient quantities and in good condition. If not, they are to be returned and replacements ordered urgently. All delivery notes to be signed and collated. (This may call for a small shed or shelter on site to serve as the ‘office’).
Site cleanliness is a vital part of site etiquette, and even the neatest team sometimes need direction in ensuring that condition. All the client sees, when he/she arrives home, is whatever state you have left the job in.
Site etiquette extends to those working practices that may cause unintended offence. Examples of which may include leaving washing or the spare car covered in brick or cement dust, or dirty windows that were not covered during the day’s operations.
As you can see, Site Etiquette is much more than simply a list of do’s and don’ts – it is a matter of pride!