Cleaning an office isn’t as simple as it may sound. There are a variety of office setups, including offices with fully closed-off spaces with doors, offices with semi-open cubicles, open offices with large tables, chairs, and benches for seating, and even offices with a combination of those setups.
All office types should not be treated equally when it comes to having an effective cleaning protocol in place. In this post we will discuss what an open office is and some unique elements to consider when creating a comprehensive cleaning protocol. Out of all the types of office setups open offices tend to present the greatest opportunity for the spread of germs and bacteria.
What is an Open Office?
Typically, an open office setting will feature minimal interior walls, a benching system rather than cubicles with low walls, fewer private offices, and a selection of workspaces and meeting rooms that employees may choose to work from. In many cases, workstation designs include unassigned seating.
More employees can be assigned on a floor with open offices compared to a floor with cubicles. A better sense of community is achieved with open offices, along with fostering cooperation, collaboration, innovation, and creativity. (1)
While open plan offices have several advantages, they do require a higher level of maintenance and increased frequency of cleaning to keep up with the flexible office environment.
One of the challenges that will impact the creation of a cleaning plan is how often the space will need to be cleaned due to increased number of staff and the additional areas that they utilize.
Not only are co-workers collaborating more, but they are also socializing more frequently, sharing facilities and technology, and thereby face more hygiene risks than before.
Increased Number of Employees
With more efficient use of space comes additional employees and the common use of desk sharing.
Additional workers in shared spaces with fewer barriers creates more high-touch points creating more opportunities for germs and bacteria to be present, which increases the spread of germs.
Successful cleaning routines will need to take this into account in order to correctly understand the scope of work needed and to select the correct product type to keep works spaces clean.
In an open office, employee workstations are located together rather than in individual cubicles or private offices, thus there is no need for physical barriers.
While removing barriers improves communication and encourages teamwork, it also reduces the number of obstacles germs and bacteria have to get through to spread.
When you are in close proximity to your co-workers and touching the same objects, this provides an easy route of transmission for pathogens like viruses and bacteria.
With a larger population combined with increased interactions between employees, open offices naturally have an increase in traffic.
This additional traffic impacts a larger area of the floor plan by creating more traffic at entry points, bathrooms, break rooms, and common areas. Increased traffic also means more dirt and germs on carpeted areas, which would require more routine cleanings.
The Importance of Hygiene
According to the CDC, washing hands can reduce respiratory illnesses such as colds by more than 20% in a community. (2) To encourage better hygiene, companies can provide more opportunities for hand hygiene such as sanitizing stations and making sure bathroom supplies are always stocked.
By being proactive with sanitizing solutions, companies can promote the importance of hand washing and overall hygiene.
Along with regular hand washing, ask employees to wipe down their desk, keyboard, mouse, and phone with antibacterial wipes. Remind employees to stay home if they are feeling ill.
Collaborative Spaces Need Special Attention
Every open office space will have meeting rooms set aside to provide more privacy when needed. These rooms see heavy traffic and house additional equipment and surfaces that collect germs.
Special care should be taken to identify and label these areas because of frequent use and can be easily overlooked in an environment where ownership of areas is vaguer.
Take time to accurately capture how much cleaning is needed in meeting and conference rooms and shared spaces to ensure these hot spots are managed properly.
Consider Scope of Touch Points
When developing your cleaning plan consider looking through your office one area at a time and note the high-touch areas in each. By identifying traffic patterns in certain areas of the workplace and the ways those spaces are used, you will be able to create a comprehensive plan that benefits everyone.
Areas and high-touch points to consider:
- Tables and Countertops.
- Door handles.
- Light Switches.
- Phones, computer mice, and keyboards.
- Office supplies including staplers, tape dispensers, and pen-cups.
- Touch screens.
- Elevator buttons and handrails.
Break Rooms and Kitchen
- Appliance handles and controls (fridge, toaster oven, microwave, sink).
- Cabinet handles and door pulls.
- Coffee/Tea station and service items.
- Door and stall handles.
- Bathroom fixtures (toilet handles, faucets, soap and towel dispensers).
- Trashcans and towel dispensers.
- Changing stations and other item dispensers.
Conference and meeting rooms
- Speakerphone buttons, remotes.
- Televisions, touch screens, and projectors.
- Whiteboard, pens, and erasers.
- Equipment such as postage meters, scales, computers, phones.
- Tools such as tape guns, letter openers, box cutters.
- Rolling mail bins and carts. (4)
Heating and cooling systems play a key role in protecting indoor air quality. Preventative HVAC maintenance is a must for open offices to keep particle control and ventilation reliable. To ensure HVAC maintenance plays its part in keeping your office safe and healthy consider these questions: (3)
- Are HVAC systems inspected regularly?
- Are reservoir and ductwork checked for microbial contaminants?
- Are air filters installed correctly?
Maintaining a clean and healthy workspace results in higher employee engagement, increased worker productivity, job satisfaction and reduces sick days and employee turnover. Developing the correct cleaning plan and encouraging staff to take greater ownership of the office space will result in reduced illness, lower costs, and reduce cleaning workload.
Using a professional cleaning service for your cleaning needs is the best weapon in fighting germs and bacteria and keeping your staff healthy and safe.
Commercial Cleaning Corporation provides a variety of services tailored to any size office. Our services include janitorial work, day porters, commercial carpet cleaning, floor care, commercial kitchen cleaning, window cleaning, handyman work, anti-microbial surface protection, electrostatic disinfection, and more!
Schedule your free consultation or walkthrough with Commercial Cleaning Corporation today by filling out our contact form here.
(1) Special Considerations for open offices (go.snapapp.com)
(2) Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility (cdc.gov)
(3) Open Floor Plans and the Contract Cleaner (serviceman.org)
(4) 5 Tips for staying same and productive in a open office (monster.com)