3 Maintenance Practices to Protect Tenants as Businesses Reopen
Company leaders and employees have different expectations for returning to offices amid the ongoing pandemic. According to recent research from PwC, 75% of executives expect at least half of office employees to be working in person by July. In comparison, only 61% of employees expect to spend half their time in the office by then.
This disconnect speaks, at least in part, to the fact that many workers aren’t yet comfortable entering communal spaces. While fear of exposure to COVID-19 or other viruses and infectious bacteria remains top of mind for many, a related concern may stem from the fact that some disinfecting practices and agents may present health concerns of their own.
Many cleaning and disinfecting products actually contain chemicals that can be harmful to building occupants. In fact, as people try to protect themselves and others from the virus, poisoning emergencies have increased substantially: In April 2020, the National Poison Data System reported a 20% increase in poisoning emergencies compared to the same time in 2019, often due to improper use of disinfectants.
Of course, buildings must remain as spotless and sanitized as possible day after day. Still, cleaning protocols can’t disrupt the day-to-day work of building occupants — and they certainly can’t put their health at greater risk.
Overcoming challenges to keeping facilities clean during COVID-19
From a property management perspective, the virus has highlighted the importance of not just routine space maintenance and upkeep, but also the need for updated cleaning and disinfecting strategies to create healthier indoor environments.
This takes time and investigation by property management personnel working with building service contractors. However, some facilities are facing major financial hurdles on their way to developing the safest, most optimized cleaning plans possible. Schools, for instance, are tasked with keeping children and staff as safe as possible while educational budgets have been slashed by 25% or more in some states across the country. Nevertheless, now isn’t the time for any organization to pull back on funding for the department that can literally be a lifesaver.
Safe maintenance practices for facilities as doors reopen
Building occupants deserve an atmosphere in which limiting the spread of viruses and other illnesses doesn’t present additional problems. The following tips can help property managers create the safest cleaning plans with the least disruption:
1. Research all disinfectants before approving them.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has created an online list of disinfectant products known to kill COVID-19 on surfaces. This is a great place to start looking for the right disinfectant product for your building, but the research can’t stop there.
Nearly half of EPA-approved disinfectants contain chemicals linked to respiratory illnesses and damage to the reproductive system. Ensure that any disinfectant you approve your cleaning staff or partner to use will kill COVID-19 on surfaces and be safe for any building occupants who come into contact with it.
2. Don’t ignore carpet and upholstered furniture.
Carpets, upholstered surfaces, and textile goods in busy areas like offices and administrative spaces are often ignored in terms of cleaning. Yet they can still attract everything from debris to microscopic germs.
This means they need deep cleaning, possibly with a building service contractor’s assistance during the day or after hours. A best practice is to apply disinfectant after the surface has been deep cleaned for an extra level of assurance. Again, this should be done when the building is unoccupied.
3. Create an established protocol in the event of an active case.
Even if you’re sure to clean and disinfect regularly, there will still be some level of risk as long as the pandemic continues. For this reason, having a clear protocol is important no matter what precautions you take. Establish a line of communication with your building service contractor to utilize in the event of an active case — and know what steps you’ll take. It takes only a day to determine the severity of an outbreak. Act quickly, and you can limit the spread. Having a proper response is critical.
As the world continues to navigate COVID-19, health, safety, and cleanliness are on everyone’s minds. By choosing safe and effective products, setting a comprehensive cleaning routine, and establishing a solid response protocol, you can create a cleaner, safer environment with limited distractions for your building occupants.