The coronavirus pandemic has transformed the way we work, act, and socialize. In the not-too-distant future as mandatory shutdowns begin to ease, flipping that sign from “closed” to “open” will bring with it its own set of stressors. We know reopening your facility will be at the forefront of your mind so here are some steps to consider before doing so:
As facilities reopen, building services and critical infrastructure systems will need to be brought back online. Since buildings may have been shut down with little warning or preparation, a thorough inspection should be carried out to identify any damage or other issues that may have arisen following the vacancy. Use this pre-opening period to perform any preventive maintenance works or maintenance which may have been deferred due to the shutdown.
As soon as you know you will be reopening your facility, contact a professional janitorial company with experience in disinfecting for COVID-19. When selecting a janitorial provider, ensure that they adhere to the CDC’s cleaning guidelines and use EPA-registered disinfectants. High volume touchpoints such as handrails and door handles should be regularly cleaned in addition to surfaces within elevators and in elevator lobbies e.g. call buttons.
A building’s HVAC system that has not been active during a prolonged shutdown should be operated for at least 48 to 72 hours (known as a “flush out” period) before occupants return. Also, if possible and before anyone enters the facility, open doors and/or windows to allow fresh air to enter the building. This will stir up dust and anything else that has settled inside so this should be done before performing HVAC maintenance or disinfection.
Almost overnight, plexiglass partitions became standard equipment at supermarkets, retail operations, and office waiting rooms. As the coronavirus evolves, so too are businesses expected to evolve in order to deal with this novel virus. Consider the following:
Develop office protocols and processes for incremental re-occupancy. Public-facing businesses will need to continue to control the amount of foot traffic in and out of their space therefore, consider developing guest and visitor policies that limit non-employee access to specific workplace areas. Security and front of house staff may also now be responsible for additional duties that did not exist prior to the pandemic such as temperature-screening.
Above all, be prepared for any eventuality. This next phase of the pandemic will require flexibility and new ways of thinking. Businesses should have as part of their Business Continuity plan, a contingency for another sudden closure should there be another wave of the virus. Even in a best-case post-pandemic scenario, there is no going back to normal. This new normal will last into the indefinite future.
The post-pandemic workplace will hardly look like the collaborative workspaces and amenity-filled workplaces that were left behind in March. We understand this and want to put our experience to work for you. We have updated our business processes and regimens based on the COVID-19 virus and have helped many essential businesses stay clean and safe through the pandemic.