It goes without saying, the pandemic has impacted how we use buildings and is likely to affect how they are designed and operated in the future. Where office life and close proximity to colleagues was once the norm, Covid-19 has emphasised the drawbacks to this. Many areas of the working environment are now being questioned, from communal kitchens to even opening doors. Social distancing guidelines have caused unprecedented levels of remote working. Now, 57% of British employees want the option to work from home even after the crisis ends. This article will discuss the measures to consider in the design, operation, and maintenance of buildings, to ensure the highest degree of safety.
Working closely with other individuals has never been a problem until now. Building owners must provide protection against on-site spreading of Covid-19. Altering working practices to enforce social distancing and correct sanitation is the first step in tackling this. This could be done in several ways. For example, one way could be to reduce employee density in workspaces and meeting rooms. Alerts could also be set up, which are prompted when an area exceeds safe occupancy.
Alternatively, staggered employee schedules would help to limit the number of employees in a building at the same time. Administrative and logistical measures like this minimises unnecessary contact between individuals. Small design adjustments to entries should also be considered. We recommend establishing a system which enables queuing areas, for employees to have their temperature checked, before entering the premises.
The pandemic has made us reconsider hygiene in a whole new light. Surfaces are a huge cause for concern in the given situation. Our increased wariness surrounding cleanliness, will demand for contactless solutions to be incorporated into commercial buildings. As such, technology will play a huge part in minimising the risk of contamination. Voice or motion-activated systems and movement tracking apps will aid in making buildings safer. This could be in the form of a voice-operated lift, a remotely controlled printer, or automatic doors with motion sensors. Such technology will not only reduce excessive contact but increase energy efficiency throughout buildings too.
As the virus particularly affects those with respiratory problems, the air quality in a building should be prioritised. This not only helps to minimise the spread of germs, but also reduces the build-up of contaminants from inside and outside the building. Improving ventilation systems is a step forward, and an effective approach in shielding staff. This is as opposed to only requiring them to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) whilst on-site. Ideally, both measures utilised together would enhance the safety of the environment even more. Waste therefore requires consideration, with enough bins located across an area. If staff are using things from tissues to disposable PPE, these need to be discarded into closed bins and disposed of hygienically.
Ensuring there is adequate sanitisation stations situated throughout a building is crucial. Large sinks and providing fragrance-free hand soap in dispensers are a necessity going forward. Experts also recommend using paper towels rather than air-dryers. Whilst they are not the most environmentally friendly option, they are more effective in getting rid of bacteria. Following simple handwashing guidelines proves to be one of the most effective ways, in preventing the transmission of many infections. Therefore, it is a good idea to consider placing diagrams above sinks, to advise on the correct handwashing technique. We can provide additional sanitisation measures through our highly efficient cleaning contractors. The benefits for your business are endless, as we can tailor our cleaning plans to any working environment.
Looking to the future, it is clear that controlling the virus needs to become integral to the way buildings are managed and designed. Moves to improve air quality and manage occupancy, will make for a healthier workplace. The impact the pandemic has had on premises can only be perceived as a positive change. A well-maintained building is one that can react quickly to changing conditions.
At MSL, our facilities management service prides itself on delivering the highest standard of hygiene and cleaning. This will ensure not only a safe, but comfortable physical environment, leading to better productivity and efficiency.