The sanitization and cleanliness of interior office spaces has moved to the forefront of workers’ minds during COVID-19. As a result, some companies are not just beefing up cleaning processes but making them highly visible to building occupants.
Silent workers is the term that is used to describe cleaning crews that descend upon office buildings after hours. Increasingly, those workers are moving from the shadows to the front of the house, according to Kathleen Bands, CEO of My Cleaning Service.
“These days, people have a higher comfort level when they can see the actual cleaning taking place,” Bands explained. “Many of our clients have opted for ‘site sanitizers’ and day porters to roam the office throughout the day and address high-touch surfaces including doors, bathroom and light fixtures, and elevator buttons. In many instances, new routines are implemented to address shift work where people are coming to the office from 7 am to noon or 1 pm to 6 pm. In that scenario, cleaning personnel perform a wholesale cleaning in between those shifts, and also after built-in coffee breaks in the morning and afternoon.”
The processes have changed as well. According to Bands, companies are specifying the use of ultraviolet light (UV) and fog machines to augment the station-to-station cleaning protocols. In some cases, they even require an electrostatic spray for tough-to-reach places.
“There is some trade-off occurring to remain within budgets with companies opting to have the desk-side trash cans emptied less frequently in the evening, for example, in order to add more daytime services,” she said.
When the world started to shut down on March 13 and it became clear that construction was being considered an essential business, Plano-Coudon Construction immediately began looking for ways to continue operating in a safe manner. Utilizing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization and tapping its own stringent protocols, the company started fielding inquiries from its clients concerning procedures to implement in office environments.
“We realized we could transfer what we learned from the construction site to the interior office,” explained Blair Radney, Project Executive/Division Manager for Plano-Coudon Construction. “Several of our clients were struggling with issues concerning how to get their people back to work safely and decided to tap into our knowledge on the subject. We educated them about our nightly intense cleaning practices, including the use of EPA-recommended disinfectant and a fog system that creates a charge that adheres itself to hard surfaces. This elongates and elevates the level of protection by reducing the occurrence of germs and bacteria.”
As a construction company, Plano-Coudon also provides office modifications, including removing doors from hinges to avoid the touching of handles, adding double-swinging push doors and motion sensor lights within restroom areas. The company can also install physical barriers, including clear, plexiglass physical barrier screens to support worker comfort and safety.
Both Bands and Radney agree that every company — as dictated by industry sector, size and daily use — are addressing concerns differently with the common denominators being the wide availability of Personal Protective Equipment, hand sanitizers and wipes, and signage that directs employee flow and provides behavior guidelines.
“It is good to see the cleaning industry finally getting its due,” Bands added. “In the past, cleaning was among the first things cut from the budget. But now, cleaning is being highlighted because landlords and office tenants recognize its extreme importance.”