Office cleaning during COVID-19: Q&A with an expert
With companies prioritizing employee health and safety over everything, workplace teams find themselves on an office cleaning learning curve. What was once an outsourced “set it and forget it” service, cleaning is now one of the most researched industry topics, riddled with misconceptions and price gouging.
To help you round out your research and answer cleaning questions, we partnered with Roman Peysakhovich, CEO and Co-Founder of Onedesk, the platform that makes booking and managing cleaning services a breeze, in a recent webinar. He and his family have decades of commercial cleaning experience to help workplace teams answer questions and dispel myths, like, “Do I need to do a deep office clean prior to reopening?” (The answer, surprisingly, is no).
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1. What are three major things to prioritize in your office cleaning plan?
1. Make sure you have a plan for ongoing cleaning. A lot of people are worried about how often they should have cleaners in the office (monthly, weekly, daily), but most important is to make sure it’s more than a one-and-done effort. Companies who plan for a one-time deep cleaning effort need to rethink their strategy. Cleaning cadence will vary depending on the amount of people and size of the office space.
2. Make sure you have a plan for both cleaning and contact tracing if a COVID-19 case is present. Without a clear plan in place, companies risk feeling forced into closing everything down again, scrambling last minute for answers. This plan should include knowing which cleaning vendor will come out, what the cost is, and how soon someone can make it to your office. Workplace teams want to be able to move quickly and confidently with a contingency plan, and employees will feel much more comfortable knowing their company has everything under control.
3. Create a cleaning plan for your employees. Bringing in professional cleaners is critical, but it’s just as important for your own team to be aware of their responsibilities and know exactly what’s expected from them in order to keep spaces clean.
2. What’s the biggest office cleaning myth?
The biggest myth is that companies think they need a full-blown Coronavirus deep cleaning after being closed for three to four months. If no one has been in an office for 7+ days, you do not need a full blown cleaning (even the CDC says so).
3. What cleaning schedule do you recommend?
This depends on how many people come back to the office. Onedesk pushes companies to get a more frequent cleaning (weekly or daily) because the reality is if someone comes into your office one day after a deep cleaning, you’re back to square one in terms of exposure. It’s better to have fewer areas cleaned (or just the areas being used) on a more frequent basis. At least once a week at the minimum is most effective.
4. What’s cleaner: an assigned or shared desk?
When people share a space, it's naturally cleaner. There’s more attention placed on cleaning shared desks professionally and employees are much more likely to clean a desk before and after use if they know they’re not the only ones using it.
People sitting in the same seat day after day tend to pay less attention to cleanliness. The trend Onedesk is seeing from their customers is a move to a more flexible working model.
5. What’s the difference between cleaning vs. sanitation vs. disinfecting?
Cleaning - Removes dust, debris, etc.
Sanitization - Reduces the actual bacteria on something (ex. wiping a desk down with a cleaner)
Disinfecting - Fully destroys bacteria (ex. first cleaning a desk, then using a virucidal disinfectant and letting it dwell).
Keep in mind that even when you disinfect something, as soon as someone uses it again, you’re back at risk. That’s why wiping things down after every use is critical across everything in the office.
For areas of the office that aren’t as simple to clean, like couches and sofas, electrostatic sprayers are a great solution. Companies can find affordable tools to put disinfectant in to spray down larger areas after use.
6. How should teams vet cleaning companies and avoid price gouging in contracts?
There are a few things to keep a look out for when vetting different cleaning companies:
1. Vet the cleaners themselves to understand if they know the right cleaning processes based on accurate disinfecting methods and protocols, CDC guidelines and recommended products, etc.
2. Look out for contracts that lock you in for a long period of time. Typically a janitorial contract would lock you in anywhere from six months to two years. Given the uncertainty of Coronavirus, you want to avoid that long of a contract so that in the event you have to shut down again, you’re not paying for unused services. In fact, Onedesk switched from six-month contracts to no lock-in terms at all. Instead customers can start, pause, and resume services as they please.
3. Anything over $2/square foot is way overpriced. Have at least two companies bid on the job to find a more accurate rate for your region. Be clear about capacity limitations and how much of the office you’ll actually need cleaned.
7. What are some pro tips for maintaining clean high touchpoint areas?
High touchpoints to keep in mind include tables, keyboards, doorknobs, faucets, and light switches. Onedesk has seen success with companies using small pieces of wax paper, like the type you’d find in the bakery section at the grocery store, to handle those areas along with coffee areas, beverage dispensers, and fridge handles.
To make cleaning these areas a team-wide responsibility, setting up cleaning stations throughout these spaces will be key. Include things like hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes (make sure they’re actual disinfectants with fireside agents known to work against Coronavirus), and wax paper.
For more info on Onedesk and their many cleaning tips and tricks, watch the full webinar recording.
Curious how Robin can help you maintain a safe office environment on top of these every day cleaning tips?
Check out Robin Return, a collection of tools designed to help companies of all sizes safely reopen and implement long-term, flexible workplace strategies.