As Employees Return to Work, so Will Their Messy Habits. Here’s How to Mitigate Them.
If employees are returning to your building to work in the office, they’re likely social distancing, wearing masks, and sanitizing their hands. This is all great, but some messy habits are still likely to stick around, even during a pandemic.
What types of habits are we talking about? Spilling food and not wiping it up immediately. Leaving half-empty coffee cups on the desk for days at a time. Tracking dirt, sand, soil, and rain around the building. To be sure, some of these behaviors are unintentional. It’s hard to scrape debris completely off your shoes, even in a zoned entryway.
Regardless of whether messiness is unintended or a case of deliberate disregard, facility managers and business owners will face some extra hurdles when it comes to keeping buildings at their cleanest as employees return to work.
Staying ahead of workplace messes makes sense
In light of the pandemic, are a few quirks worth addressing? The answer is yes — for several reasons.
First of all, workstations are likely to become employees’ all-day habitats now that they can’t socialize in the office like they once did. This will inevitably lead to people eating and drinking at their desks and maybe even storing food items in drawers to avoid communal kitchens. Therefore, they need to follow new protocols to ensure those foods don’t become an eyesore, a source of odors, or an attractant for rodents and insects.
Secondly, stressed-out employees hesitant to be in person aren’t going to feel engaged returning to a dirty office setting. Watching a colleague’s space get filthier and filthier will only lead to heightened anxiety. And that’s a surefire recipe for reduced job satisfaction, workplace morale, and overall productivity.
As a final note, stains and spills aren’t just unpleasant from an aesthetic or performance perspective. They’re also guaranteed to lower the life span of pricey assets like upholstered furniture and carpets. Many businesses are trying to make do with reduced budgets. Leaders aren’t interested in replacing chairs, cubby walls, or wall-to-wall carpeting before it’s absolutely necessary.
Stopping office messes before they take over
These are unprecedented times. Consequently, facility managers, business owners, and their building service contractors (BSCs) must work together to keep offices and individual workstations sanitized by leveraging a few reactive and proactive techniques.
Where should you start? Try these steps:
1. Empower employees to maintain the cleanliness and integrity of their spaces.
Your first reaction might be to tell workers to clean up after themselves. That’s fine, but you also need to give them the cleaning materials to do so. Set up mini cleaning stations throughout the office outfitted with hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, cleaning spray, and paper towels. Your employees will have what they need to sanitize their hands and work stations frequently — they’ll also have no excuse not to clean up after themselves when the small “whoops!” moments strike.
2. Record bigger messes in a notebook for your BSC.
Because BSC personnel come around before and after hours, they won’t know what happened in the facility while everyone was at work. Alert them to major issues by displaying a crowdsourced clipboard containing “heads up” information about messes. Encourage employees to make notes about spills they couldn’t adequately clean up. That way, your BSC representatives can intervene to ensure that potentially damaging messes don’t sit too long and ruin your assets.
3. Apply protective carpet treatments to high-traffic areas.
You’ll never be able to prevent spills fully, but you can protect your carpet from unavoidable messes and keep it smelling and looking fresher for longer with a protective treatment. milliCare’s advanced surface protectants help carpets retain long-term value by actively preventing dirt and stains from adhering to carpet fibers. A single application of a protective treatment before employees return to the office full-force can have a lasting positive effect.
4. Apply performance coating on hard floor surfaces.
Protective coatings aren’t just for carpets. They’re suitable for hard floors, too. At milliCare, our chemical- and stain-resistant performance coatings prevent products like fizzy, sugary, and acidic drinks from corroding and damaging hard surfaces. Such coatings should be applied before employees start streaming back into offices or during downtimes on holidays or long weekends.
You’ll never be able to stop messes from happening altogether, but you can protect your building and help its occupants feel safer in their workplace. Even making just a few changes to your cleaning protocol can reduce the environmental, fiscal, and psychological impacts of messy habits.