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This Is How Coronavirus Will Transform Facility Maintenance

by Chad Smith on May 12, 2020
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As company leaders prepare for a return to the workplace, they are upgrading facility maintenance practices to ensure every space is clean and disinfected.

Disinfecting workplaces with hospital-grade standards to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses will be the new norm. This will likely require additional janitorial staff, new technologies and new cleaning processes to sanitize shared spaces as efficiently as possible.

Here’s a closer look at some trends facility maintenance professionals can expect to see in the near future.

3 Facility Maintenance Trends Emerging From The Novel Coronavirus

More Demand For Professional Cleaning Services

Keeping workplaces clean and sanitized in the aftermath of the coronavirus could require specialized training. The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association, ISSA, offers accreditation through its Global Biorisk Advisory Council to help companies “prepare for, respond to, and recover from biorisk situations” by managing janitorial services amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Your facilities management team may want to consider obtaining this type of accreditation.

You will also need to update your facility maintenance protocols to include additional measures for disinfecting the workplace. Your new plan should include:

  • Which areas need to be disinfected
  • What type of disinfectant is appropriate to use
  • What personal protective equipment (PPE) your team will use while cleaning
  • The frequency for cleaning and disinfecting
  • Who will be responsible for each task
  • How your maintenance team will be trained in new cleaning procedures
  • How you will document completion of each task

The Lear Corporation outlines a specific disinfection protocol on pages 14-17 of its Safe Work Playbook. It calls for all buildings to be “100% disinfected prior to anyone returning to work” and outlines a daily cleaning schedule team members must follow afterward. This includes using hospital-grade disinfectant or a “fresh 10% chlorine bleach solution” to disinfect various surfaces. Some surfaces will need to be sprayed, while others should be mopped or wiped down.

Lear’s return-to-work playbook also includes a “deep cleaning” protocol that will be enacted in the event of a potential COVID-19 exposure.

“Deep cleaning should be performed as soon as possible after the confirmation of a positive test as practical,” the playbook states. “While the scope of deep cleaning is presumed to be the full site, sites may reduce the footprint to be cleaned if there is sufficient rationale to do so and they gain consensus of their regional operations and EHS leaders.”

If deep cleaning procedures cannot be performed, Lear’s protocol calls for the site to shut down for at least 72 hours to allow for “natural deactivation of the virus, followed by site personnel performing a comprehensive disinfection of all common surfaces.”

This additional cleaning protocol is a lot to consider for any organization.

If you’re not confident your in-house team has the training, technology and time to handle this specialized cleaning, you may want to consider hiring facility maintenance services.

New Technologies For Sanitizing Buildings

New, innovative technologies have been transforming the facility maintenance industry for years, but we will likely see more widespread adoption of them as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

More facility maintenance teams are using advanced equipment, including electrostatic sprayers to cover larger surface areas faster than they could with mops or rags.

Hotels, health care organizations, schools and other large buildings are also using electrolyzed water to clean floors and surfaces with an electric charge and natural minerals, rather than harsh chemicals.

Other cleaning innovations include antimicrobial coatings for floors and surfaces, floor-cleaning robots, microfiber mops and nanotechnology.

Your team should stay up to date on these emerging technologies and trends and consider upgrading your cleaning equipment accordingly.

Using Sensors For Intelligent, Demand-Based Cleaning

All this additional cleaning protocol is necessary, but it’s also more time-consuming and costly.

To keep those costs in check, your facility maintenance team will need to focus on making cleaning both more efficient and effective. Cleaning procedures will need to be more aligned with actual demand. Many corporate offices were already underutilized prior to the coronavirus pandemic. The most recent benchmarking data from JLL showed average space utilization hovering between 60-70%. That was in 2018. More recent data from CoreNet shows almost 70% of organizations are now planning to reduce their office space and encourage more remote work.

With more organizations downsizing, staggering shifts and reconfiguring floor plans for safe distancing, average space utilization will likely be even lower.

As you plan for a lower office density for the foreseeable future, your FM team will need to consider how to adjust cleaning schedules accordingly.

They can’t just rely on seat assignments, either.

More organizations are adopting flexible seating employees can reserve as needed, allowing them to maintain a safe distance from colleagues. And, of course, in a more agile workplace, employees move around the office throughout the day depending on the work they’re doing.

To keep up with these added cleaning demands, you’ll need real-time data that shows how your workplaces are being used each day.

Sensors offer the most accurate representation of true space utilization in the workplace. They can be placed outside conference rooms, on individual desks or even in common areas to collect data that can drive intelligent cleaning.

How iOFFICE Is Partnering With Sensor Companies For Intelligent Cleaning

iOFFICE already has well-established partnerships with some of the best sensor companies on the market today.

Our software integrates seamlessly with these sensors, allowing facility managers and workplace leaders to see real-time data on how their space is being used. Our clients are already using that data to optimize their workplace design, plan for future space needs and enhance the employee experience. They’re also using it to adjust their cleaning schedules based on demand.

One of our sensor partners, CoWorkr, allows users to see a more precise, daily summary of their workplace utilization beyond rooms and desks. An integration with our facility management software allows teams to generate service requests for cleaning.

To learn more about how our integration with sensors can help you plan for more efficient, demand-based cleaning, join us for an upcoming webinar May 21.

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