We live in a time of increased awareness to the effects our actions and choices have on the environment. From how we view ‘fast fashion’ to the choices we make in the types of vehicles we drive we think in terms of ‘carbon footprint’, air quality and so much more. All have come to be increasingly important as we realize how much we love this beautiful planet we have been gifted.
The same can be said for how corporations that take the lead in making a difference approach the selection of maintenance service providers. Workspaces are becoming increasingly more appealing with the goal to attract workers that value more than a simple, standard compensation package. Open spaces that encourage collaboration, relaxed, comfortable workstations, ergonomically designed seating, desks that allow an employee to work standing or sitting, natural fibers and lighting, and improved indoor air quality are but a few of the areas addressed in the design of workspaces.
Perhaps as a smaller business we feel limited in what we can do to live up to some of the expectations listed. Yet there is much each of us can do to improve the environment our employees work in and we reap benefits that we do not often think of.
Let’s touch on some of the areas that affect workers and as decision makers we can make a difference even without redesigning the entire interior of our offices to meet the latest trends.
Among examples of indoor air contaminants in the workplace, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety lists:
- VOCs from workplace cleansers, solvents, pesticides, disinfectants, glues.
- Dust mites – from carpets, fabric, foam chair cushions.
- Microbial contaminants, fungi, molds, bacteria – from damp areas, stagnant water and condensate pans.
- Ozone – from photocopiers, electric motors, electrostatic air cleaners.
Fragrance in enclosed spaces can be a real problem for those with allergies or sensitivity. “Sensitivity is a general term under which you can have a true allergic reaction, but you can also have irritant reactions, meaning the problem with fragrance could be that it’s an irritant. With others, it could be an allergic reaction. (Jan 11, 2008) (https://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/fragrance-allergies-a-sensory-assault#1) Consideration, flexibility and respect can go a long way in minimizing the challenge of accommodating a person with allergies/sensitivity to fragrance.
Dust, dust mites can also be an irritant. Maintaining a clean work environment can minimize the effects. The challenge here lies in the value we place on the maintenance level and even more importantly on the qualifications of the maintenance service provider we select to maintain out textiles, rugs, carpets, panels and upholstery in the office environment. Why do we say this?
We make daily choices from mundane to sometimes serious, life changing ones. For some things, such as for example gassing up our vehicle, it may be a matter of convenience. For coffee lovers, it may be based on the subtle nuances they enjoy as they sip on that perfect cup of coffee.
When making a choice that affects our health, we become more selective, thorough and focused in our research of the health provider, treatment options, medical facility etc.
If we were to think of the selection process for maintenance service providers (janitorial, carpet cleaning, HVAC maintenance) from a similar perspective we would look beyond ‘price’ and focus on the details that make a maintenance service provider stand out.
Why should this matter you ask? Just think, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American works 44 hours per week, or 8.8 hours per day. A 2014 national Gallup poll put the average number at 47 hours per week, or 9.4 hours per day, with many saying they work 50 hours per week. (May 3, 2017)
The indoor air quality and cleanliness of a facility can have an either positive or negative effect on the health of the workers over time. Clean, dust free surfaces minimize the spread of dust and the spread of germs and bacteria. Regular vacuuming and a proper, professional, regular carpet cleaning maintenance program not only contribute to healthy indoor air quality, but also prolongs the life of the carpet, thus making it more sustainable. Keeping up with both of those minimizes the amount of dust particles that get through the HVAC filter system. Finally, regular HVAC inspections, maintenance and regularly changing filters impacts what circulates through the entire workspace.
To effectively maintain the three areas discussed requires selecting three quality maintenance service providers. A professional Janitorial Service, Carpet & Textile Specialist and a licensed and qualified HVAC contractor.
How do you determine the qualifications for those service providers? What are the qualifications you should look for? Does price matter? Is there a difference between the services they are trained to perform and are qualified to provide? Do you have a process in place to ensure the
interview and hiring process of a maintenance service provider adds value to your workplace?
The next article in this three-part series will address those questions.
Contributed by B. Aguilera. 09/22/19