The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in heightened awareness of the importance of cleaning among consumers and throughout facilities. In this new era of clean, it’s critical that facility managers and building service contractors (BSCs) are vocal about the steps they are taking to ensure facilities are clean and safe. Organizations can no longer rely on customers believing “if it smells clean, it must be clean.” Now, they need to provide “proof of clean” to instill confidence among customers and employees who may have doubts or fears about cleanliness and the spread of COVID-19 in their facility.
So how can facility managers reiterate that cleanliness is their top priority? Read on for tips about how to address concerns by making the cleaning process more visible.
How to Showcase your Commitment to Cleanliness
With so many uncertainties, facilities must continue to reiterate the steps their cleaning staff are taking to address viruses, bacteria, and other threats. Consider the following best practices to enhance your cleaning program and provide peace of mind for customers, occupants, and visitors.
Increase the frequency of cleaning.
Businesses should increase the frequency of cleaning in high-traffic areas where people may spread germs more easily. This allows cleaning professionals to regularly address the buildup of germs on surfaces such as doorknobs, handrails, elevator buttons, light switches, and more. Facility managers can also create a log that documents each area’s cleaning schedule and post it on a door or wall so it is highly visible to visitors.
Conduct daytime cleaning.
Prior to the current pandemic, many facilities would schedule general and deep cleanings overnight to avoid disruptions during the busiest hours of operation. To enhance transparency, consider rescheduling cleaning to daytime hours so customers can see cleaning taking place. This not only develops a level of trust between customers and your business, but it also boosts employee morale. Cleaning staff can work more desirable hours and will take pride in the fact that their employer is taking the proper steps to keep everyone safe.
Utilize on-site generation.
On-site generation (OSG) of electrochemically activated (ECA) solutions require just three ingredients. Facilities use water, salt, and electricity to produce a non-irritating and fragrance-free cleaner and disinfectant. OSG allows facilities to meet increased cleaning and sanitization requirements and protects against supply chain disruptions that could result in a shortage of conventional chemicals. With this approach, cleaning staff and customers won’t worry that your organization has run out of essential cleaning solutions or that subpar products are being used.
Select the best products and apply them correctly.
Using safe and effective solutions is key, especially during a pandemic. Although some chemicals such as bleach can kill many viruses and bacteria, the fumes are unsafe for cleaning staff, building occupants, and visitors. However, there are several ways to confirm your facility is using the appropriate products. Check the efficacy claims on the product label or review the EPA’s List N to see if the disinfectant is effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. If you opt for ECA solutions, confirm the on-site generation device is registered and approved to make cleaning and disinfecting solutions.
It’s also important for cleaning professionals to understand how to properly use each chemical. For example, every disinfectant and sanitizer has a dwell time, which is defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as “the amount of time that [it] must be in contact with the surface, and remain wet, in order to achieve the product’s advertised kill rate.” Chemicals are unique and their respective dwell times may differ. Closely following the manufacturer’s instructions ensures the products are working as intended.
Overcommunicate with employees and customers.
Businesses should develop and implement a thorough internal communications plan that informs employees of new cleaning practices and expectations. An external communications plan is also essential for clearly educating customers on cleaning and disinfecting strategies. Distribute this information via in-person training sessions with employees, customer e-newsletters, social media, wall posters, flyers, and tabletop signage.
Going Beyond “Good Enough”
If there’s anything that the pandemic has taught us, it is that the “good enough” approach to cleaning is no longer “good enough.” Many facility managers have had to readjust their cleaning programs to instill greater confidence among customers and employees. With a sound approach to cleaning in place that focuses on visible, thorough, and regular cleaning and disinfecting, organizations can mitigate uncertainties building occupants may have during their next visit.