Platinum’s re-opening planning services help prepare for the future of your workplace and tackle problems before they arise.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly disrupted many facets of our society. One of the most impacted sectors has been commercial real estate as most companies were forced to close their offices as part of mandated lockdowns. At many companies, employees were able to work from home. Now, as shared spaces are starting to reopen in many parts of the country, managers of office buildings and corporate leaders must demonstrate to occupants and employees that they are keeping them as safe as possible. Bottom line, everyone from government officials to corporations and executives to individuals now has an intense focus on hygiene and on following guidelines to avoid spreading the coronavirus.
COVID-19 mainly disperses through the air, traveling on droplets coughed or breathed out by people infected with the virus, even if they do not yet have symptoms or are asymptomatic. As a result, businesses must take a variety of steps to combat the risk of spreading the virus within commercial spaces, such as improving cleaning and disinfecting regimes, spacing workers farther apart and erecting barriers in open offices, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Preparing for the safe return of employees to places of work must follow these three broad steps: a pre-opening strategy to sanitize the office and instruct employees about the new requirements and recommendations, twice-a-day cleaning procedures that must be followed once everyone is back in the office and a plan in place to respond quickly if someone tests positive for COVID-19.
A focus on cleanliness and eliminating germs must start with proper planning before employees return to the office and begin to re-acclimate themselves to their work spaces. Prior to the re-opening, it is critical to schedule a preliminary deep cleaning to disinfect the entire office or building. For companies with more than 100 employees at their building or factory, Platinum Cleaning recommends an electrostatic deep clean to ensure that surfaces are sanitized and germ-free.
Before the pandemic, once-a-day cleaning and disinfecting may have sufficed. Those days are over because of the heightened concerns about the continued spread of the virus. We recommend scheduling sanitization at least twice a day, which can be accomplished in two ways: either hiring a dedicated disinfecting day porter who cleans frequently used areas at least twice a day or placing sanitizing stations at high-frequency touch points, i.e., tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, desks, phones and keyboards, throughout the office. Another important option to consider is installing clean air filtration and high efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA) options that can capture tiny airborne virus particles, along with blocking specks of dust, pollen and mold.
Next confirm that your team is on board with the new cleanliness and social distancing standards by creating a re-opening plan along with a strategy to communicate it to employees. Then, it is imperative to distribute an internal message to all your employees to assure them that they can be confident of their safety when they return.
The communications should include detailed information about how the company will establish policies and standards about the following:
As one of Platinum’s Supreme Protection services, we can consult with our clients to develop a re-opening plan to share with team members before they return that includes tailored recommendations and plans for how to implement the list of procedures. An important step is placing signs to remind employees to wash and sanitize their hands and remind them about limits on the number of people allowed in high-trafficked areas such as lunchrooms, meeting areas and even rest rooms. U.S. states and municipalities are encouraging a 10-person maximum gathering rule that should be followed in the office, including meeting rooms and cafeterias. Companies should determine the maximum number of people allowed in each room and remove additional chairs to enforce this precaution.
To ease the transition back to the office, many companies are providing employees with “return to work” kits to prepare them for the new normal. These kits might include a laminated card with company return-to-work guidelines, a letter from the top executive, a cloth or silicone mask (with inserts), hand sanitizer, tissues and disposable gloves. Workers should wear cloth masks, except when eating or drinking, of course. This practice is crucial to avoid the rapid spread of COVID-19.
Once the office is up and running, it will be crucial to schedule recurring disinfection services. We recommend hiring a cleaner that is CDC-compliant and uses Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved chemicals that are proven to kill the novel coronavirus and other similar types of viruses. The cleaning regime must also ensure that all high-touch points are cleaned and sanitized regularly, and that broad-spectrum disinfection is performed for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases. The EPA defines a broad spectrum disinfectant as one that meets public health claims for all three of the major classes of organisms: viruses, fungi and bacteria. For example, sanitizers are not considered broad spectrum by EPA’s definition because they are only meant to reduce bacteria levels. For buildings that have an outbreak of COVID-19 cases, Platinum Cleaning uses a broad-spectrum hospital grade disinfectant cleaner.
The CDC recommends that all employees are properly socially distanced (six feet) from each other during the work day. To achieve this, it may be necessary to have your employees alternate time between working in the office with remote shifts, perhaps one to two days a week at home. This policy will create more open space in the office that can be used to maintain the six-foot radius between work stations.
We encourage companies to promote employee peace of mind by following a few simple steps. Make sure that the high-visibility signs posted throughout the common areas that indicate the company is complying with recommended procedures and also remind employees to follow social distancing and sanitization reminders. The signs should also confirm the date and time when areas, especially the common and high-touch ones, were cleaned.
Platinum can also assist your company relay this information digitally to employees via our smart inspection app. Alerts provide workers with real-time updates about when areas of the office or building have been cleaned and sanitized, enabling employees to work with confidence.
We advise planning for a rapid response to deal with a positive case of COVID-19 or even someone who was in contact with someone suspected of having the virus. To achieve this, we recommend retaining a cleaner who can come to your office with short notice to complete a deep clean that disinfects the entire office. When infection strikes, Platinum Cleaning specialists can arrive in as little as 24 hours to disinfect your facility and help you get back to business quickly. In these cases, we recommend our Infection Reset, a cleaning and disinfection of all hard surfaces—both horizontal and vertical. We also provide guidance for ongoing maintenance after the major cleaning is complete.
Another option for a positive case of COVID-19 is to use electrostatic fogging. Platinum Cleaning uses both fogging and electrostatic machines, a great method to efficiently disinfect both horizontal and vertical surfaces in an area, or 360 degrees.
At Platinum Cleaning & Facility Services we are experts in commercial cleaning and specialists in disaster response and recovery. We offer customized COVID-19 solutions that fit your industry and support the health of your business. Platinum provides janitorial and facility solutions for infection prevention and control tailored to your needs.