Even though most office duties are now be done remotely, we also know that an increasing number of workers are eager to return to the office at least part-time. While some people prefer to work from home, others value the sense of community and cooperation that an office atmosphere fosters.
Newer members of the workforce are especially eager to receive the training and in-person mentoring they have been missing out on over the last year, but facility managers will need to take a variety of precautions to create a safe work environment that reduces the risk of pathogens like COVID-19 spreading.
You may decrease the impact on your workers and production by implementing the following safety precautions during the pandemic.
The necessity for Clean Air
The prevention of airborne infections in the workplace begins with the air itself. There are several methods for ensuring that building occupants have consistent access to safe, fresh air.
- Continuous Airflow Dilutes Particle Concentrations
Since COVID-19 and other illnesses like influenza, are spread through the air, it makes sense to invest in powerful air sanitizing systems to guarantee that fresh, clean air is provided into the workplace consistently. However, depending on the region and conditions such as temperature and humidity, this can be accomplished without incurring significant costs.
By putting low exhaust vents in tiny rooms and workplaces, a single-direction airflow that continually carries fresh air into the area may be maintained. In principle, the more fresh air you can introduce into a room, the more you dilute the particle concentration within that area, lowering the risks of occupants breathing pathogen-containing aerosol particles.
- Air Filtration
High-efficiency particulate air filtration systems can assist in the decontamination of air from a heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems. As air flows through the fine mesh filters, pollutants are removed from circulation.
Depending on the size and architecture of an existing heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system, external filtering compartments that support a larger surface area of a fine high-efficiency particulate air filter may need to be retrofitted to maintain the requisite airflow volume through the tight mesh. As they lower the number of tiny particles carrying the coronavirus.
- Ultraviolet Lights
Although all ultraviolet light spectrums have an antimicrobial impact, killing both viruses and bacteria, UV-C is the most effective for this use. Rooms equipped with UV-C lamps can achieve maximal sanitation in 25 to 60 minutes, depending on the intensity of the lights. If the rooms are painted with UV-reflective paint, this period can be decreased.
UV-C light, on the other hand, can cause eye irritation and skin burns, making it unsuitable for usage while a place is inhabited. However, as an efficient air sanitation strategy, they may also be buried directly within heat, ventilation, as well as air conditioning ducting, and air handlers to sterilize air before it is brought into occupied rooms.
- Bipolar Ionization
Bipolar Ionization is an air-cleaning method that generates positively and negatively charged oxygen ions, which interact with and catalyse oxidation and destruction in bacteria, mould cells, and viruses. Because the charges of the particles naturally aggregate together to form heavier clusters, they are more likely to be trapped by filters or fall quicker out of the air and onto surfaces where they might do damage.
Bipolar ionizers, in addition to assisting in the removal of germs and viruses, offer the added benefit of eliminating mould from the air, which is an undesirable frequent environmental issue that flourishes on common construction materials and in dark, wet conditions.
- Surface Selection
The surfaces in the working environment also play a significant role in keeping office workers safe. Ideal materials have natural antibacterial qualities, are nonporous, and are simple to clean with a diluted bleach solution.
Durability to Cleaning Solutions
Surfaces and materials for the office should be chosen for their longevity in the face of regular cleanings using strong cleaning chemicals, such as a diluted bleach solution. Surfaces that are hard and non-porous, such as plastic laminates and imitated stone, are desirable.
Porous materials, such as wood, provide a microscopic habitat for bacteria to thrive and reproduce, especially when finishing coatings deteriorate over time or through repeated contact with strong cleaning solutions. Materials that cannot tolerate repeated contact to severe cleaning solutions may degrade with time, creating a micro-environment for germs and pollutants to congregate, limiting the product’s life and the cleaning regime’s efficacy.
Antimicrobial and nonporous materials should be used in restrooms wherever feasible, particularly on door hardware and high-touch plumbing fixtures.
Motion-activated or hands-free applications help to reduce cross-contact and should be used on:
- Dispensers for soap and hand sanitizer
- Dispensers for paper towels
- Kick plates and door openers
Automatic sinks, on the other hand, are a typical hands-free feature that inhibits appropriate cleanliness. Users frequently become annoyed and wash their hands for less than the required 20 seconds due to the delayed on/off operation and hit-or-miss motion sensors.
Touchless toilets are another mechanical fixture to be used with caution. The addition of automation and sensors to a plumbing system that is otherwise basic and basic may result in unneeded long-term maintenance concerns. Instead, consider installing foot pedals to flush toilets. They are a more intuitive approach for users to minimize cross-contact, they function mechanically, and they are considerably easier to maintain.
Consider shrinking or eliminating lobbies and other waiting areas in favour of digital or mobile check-in concierge services, which allow guests to enter and go directly to their destination.
Think of using modular furniture that may be quickly changed or rearranged by facility managers or even building users. This can help change the workplace structure fast to assist social distancing techniques, without the requirement for outside suppliers.
We have a tremendous chance to use the learning as well as experiences learned from the COVID-19 epidemic since last year. To execute a proactive approach to building a safe and inviting working environment by adopting some of the proposals above.
But it can be quite a task to manage and maintain these systems and regulations. To make the same easier for you, you require to outsource professional facility management experts.