Ron Segura 2017-11-20 22:51:38
According to a July 2017 study by the Global Cities Report, the market for alternative office space grew by 18 percent around the world in the previous 12 months. One of the fastest growing real estate industries are these alternative office spaces, which includes flexible workspaces, open work spaces, or virtual offices. These all refer to essentially the same thing: a design plan in which many people work in a facility, but with few private offices and few walls. A worker may never know exactly where he or she will sit, and must always carry their computer and work items with them each day, but the cost savings and camaraderie are carrying the trend. Not only has the open office trend been happening in alternative work locations, but the same has also been happening in major corporate offices, especially in the high-tech sector. A perfect example of this is Facebook. About three years ago, Facebook opened its massive new headquarters in Menlo Park, CA, US, which is one of the largest open work spaces in the world. The location looks like an open industrial factory floor. Nothing fancy here. There are no walls or partitions, even around Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s desk. Along with Zuckerberg, many employees do have their own desks — usually about 5 feet long with no drawers, a small file cabinet, often no office phone — and they are in pods. Pods are generally peopled by employees in the same department or those working on similar projects. Other staffers at Facebook may share desk space where and when available. Along with doing away with the walls and partitions, the “9-to-5” work concept has been replaced with staffers working anytime, any day. NEW CHALLENGES One of the reasons today’s companies and facility managers like these open spaces is because it encourages teamwork. Staffers working on the same project are right next to each other. They can collaborate, swap ideas and ask questions of their team members quickly. This builds solidarity, because the team has shared goals and ideas, which employers believe helps improve worker productivity and produces better results. However, the concept has not worked well for everyone. For instance, a common complaint is noise. Rarely are these open spaces carpeted, so noise is often a problem. Unless quiet areas have been provided, the only way around the noise is for employees to bring headphones. Another problem is some people are not necessarily “right” for this type of work setting. Referred to as “action takers,” these people like their own work environment and prefer to work on their own projects, in their own areas, by themselves. But one of the major issues to grapple with involves cleaning. This change to many people in big open spaces has had an impact on the cleaning and maintenance of these locations, and it’s something many designers and managers may not have anticipated. In an individual office setting, the same person uses the same desk, chair and phone. In an open office, several people may share these same items. Here’s the problem: the more people sharing the same work area, the more likely germs and bacteria can find their way onto desks, chairs, phones and high-touch areas. More germs and bacteria — if not properly removed — can cause illness. So, to protect health, this means traditional cleaning strategies are out the window. Entirely new cleaning procedures are now required for these type of work settings. NEW ROUTINES In traditional offices, cleaning professionals follow a strategy that looks something like this: • Monday: Area “A” gets detail cleaned, which may involve thorough floor cleaning and the use of cleaning solutions and disinfectants to clean desks and high-touch areas, like phones. All other areas in the facility are lightly cleaned, surfaces are dusted, and all trash is removed. The only exceptions are the restrooms and kitchen areas, which are carefully cleaned each visit. • Tuesday: Section “B” is now detailed, and all other areas are lightly cleaned. • Wednesday: Section “C” is detailed while the other areas are lightly cleaned. • Thursday: Section “D” is detailed in the same routine. • Friday: Items that only need to be cleaned weekly or monthly are attended to and additional detail cleaning is performed throughout the facility. This cleaning system will likely not prove useful in an open office setting. While dusting may be effective in some low-use areas, it will not protect health in the areas where people share work space. Cleaning solutions and disinfectants are needed to clean common area surfaces. This extra level of cleaning takes more time, and the cost for cleaning will be higher. To address this challenge, start from scratch and carefully plan a scope of cleaning services. What cleaning needs to be performed each visit and throughout the week, month and year? What are the most high-use areas? This allows for a more complete grasp of the cleaning requirements of the location. Preparing the “scope” of cleaning should be done in consultation with a service provider. In addition to more specific and detailed cleaning protocols, cleaning workers may need to brush up on cleaning etiquette. This is because, as mentioned, there are no regular hours in many open space offices. Office workers may be in the facility any time, day or night. There is much more to this new office concept than meets the eye. Cleaning needs will be considerably different and more involved than a traditional office. The best way to keep building users healthy and stay on top of cleaning costs is to take the time to develop an effective cleaning plan and strategy. CLEANING ETIQUETTE • Custodians should not wear perfume or cologne • Keep jewelry to a minimum, as it can be distracting • Be polite to all staffers and limit interaction to avoid disruption • Establish set routines that encourage workers to leave their work areas for a few minutes so the cleaning crew can perform their duties • Have a cleaning plan, for instance, cleaning restrooms first, so the office staff becomes accustomed to the cleaning routine • Cleaning personnel must wear proper work clothing with a company logo, and it should be clean • Because all work stations will need to be cleaned and disinfected, cleaning workers must politely notify staff when they need the area for cleaning Be Keep cleaning noise to a minimum, including the equipment used as well as talking to other cleaning workers and using cell phones • Be flexible when cleaning crews are in the space, whether it’s empty or full of people RON SEGURA is founder and president of Segura & Associates, an international janitorial consulting company based in the U.S. He has more than 45 years of experience in all segments of the cleaning industry with ten of those years spent overseeing the cleaning of more than 4.5 million square feet for The Walt Disney Company. Ron can be contacted through his company website at www. seguraassociates.com.
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