The majority of today’s offices may not be as crowded as they once were due to work-from-home policies, hybrid schedules and staff shortages widespread across many industries. However, an increased level of care needs to go into designing and maintaining offices for employees who are required to or desire to work in these environments. You may even be left wondering, “What will actual offices on-site look like post COVID?”
Facility managers and building service contractors (BSCs) responsible for overseeing commercial offices must take into consideration the new look and layout of commercial offices. Read on to learn more about factors driving change and how these will influence cleaning programs.
Commercial Office Design Trends
Companies and their well-informed and influential employees are driving demand for the following features and priorities in commercial office environments
- Experiences and amenities – When many employees have the convenience of working from the comfort of their home office or living room, companies must put more thought into the design of commercial offices to make these inviting and experience-driven spaces. Large and boutique buildings are adopting everything from food halls, tenant-only fitness centers, outdoor areas, wellness rooms, lounges and connected retail stores to make offices more “hotel like.” Offices are also reworking their footprints to include more shared spaces that encourage collaboration among coworkers and customers.
- Indoor air quality – Increasingly, indoor air quality (IAQ) is a concern given the fact that COVID-19 spreads through the air via respiratory droplets from infected people. Good IAQ can also better support those who have health conditions like asthma and allergies. Many offices have had to reassess their heating, ventilation, and cooling systems and in some cases implement indoor air safeguards to support IAQ.
- Cleaning for health – Similar to good IAQ, cleanliness is another factor that is key to upholding health and safety among a workforce and for giving employees peace of mind. A shift from cleaning for appearance to cleaning for health is essential for removing soils and pathogens that can present a risk to people.
- Sustainability – According to the Gensler Impact by Design 2020 report, 49% of U.S. energy consumption is associated with the built environment. Corporations have a responsibility to reduce the impact their commercial offices have on the planet and doing so often offers a return on employee satisfaction and stress levels. Some organizations are taking creative approaches, such as Google, which is opting for biophilic design (complete with green spaces, birds, bees and caterpillars) in its New York City office to support recruitment and retention.
Keeping Commercial Offices Clean
Whether a building has undergone renovations during the pandemic, is newly built, is historic or simply older, it is important to uphold cleanliness to protect occupants, visitors, corporate reputation and even the design elements that have been carefully selected.
BSCs and in-house cleaning teams alike should take the following strategies into consideration:
- Assess the current level of cleanliness – In order to benchmark how your cleaning team performs over time, it is important to understand the current cleanliness levels in the facility. There are carpet cleanliness measurement tools that can help you secure numerical readings that highlight soil levels. Even visual checks can help managers better understand the areas that need additional attention, like restrooms that have higher foot traffic or even specific meeting areas.
- Green your cleaning – Sustainable cleaning is more important than ever, as cleaning is occurring while workers are present and is often being conducted more regularly than it was before the pandemic. Take a close look at the chemicals your organization is using to clean, disinfect or sanitize hard surfaces, carpet, upholstery and more. Make sure that the formulations are safe for people and the environment and will not add toxins to the indoor air.
- Clean with minimal disruption while still having a presence – This is quite possibly the most difficult request to execute, as employees want to see cleaning taking place, but it needs to be completed in a way that will not distract or annoy people. Cleaning teams should opt for equipment that operates at lower decibels and allows quick but thorough cleaning. For example, low-moisture encapsulation carpet cleaning machines are quiet, easy to operate and enable carpet to dry in under 30 minutes. This allows cleaning professionals to address their tasks during hours when occupants are present without causing disruption to their work routines.
- Adjust cleaning to new layouts – With more shared collaboration spaces and potentially fewer traditional desks, cubicles and single-person offices, cleaning teams will have to adjust their routines. Areas where multiple people gather will require regular cleaning and disinfecting. Carpeted areas featuring comfortable chairs and couches will need to be checked for stains and spots. Spaces that are connected to outdoor areas, like terraces, may need more frequent floor care, as leaves, soils and moisture can be tracked in on people’s shoes.
Building a Better Office Environment
Offices have been forever changed by the global pandemic. Some companies have adopted a fully remote workforce and others have implemented flexible hybrid schedules to curb overcrowding and cater to employees’ desires to work from home. Many companies also reevaluated the amount of space needed to conduct business and downsized their square footage to reduce spend and adjust to their diminished in-office head count. In fact, outdoor recreation company REI listed its new corporate headquarters for sale in 2020 without ever moving in, favoring smaller satellite offices rather than one large campus.
Additionally, the way in which offices are designed and laid out has shifted, with some companies doing so to curb the effects of “The Great Resignation”. The expectations of employees when it comes to cleanliness and comfort have also changed. In response, BSCs and facility managers must understand how to meet the needs of corporate clients and their staff members. With a sound strategy in place, cleaning professionals can easily, efficiently, and sustainably maintain these spaces.