The spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 is affecting the way we live in our homes. However, it has also impacted workplaces throughout the globe. As per the WHO, coronaviruses are essentially a large family of viruses which cause different types of illnesses including the common cold, fever, body aches and severe diseases etc.
A big percentage of the population have been affected by COVID-19. And there are barely any countries on the map that remain untouched by this fast spreading virus. Not only is it incredibly contagious, it has short and long term health impacts, most of which we don’t even know off yet.
The Risks of Working in an Office Space During the Pandemic
Wearing a mask or practicing the infamous social distancing is much easier when you’re working from home. But when you have to go into work, sit at desks that may have been touched by others and meet other people, this becomes a little more difficult. If even one surface in an office space has been compromised by the virus, it can infect many other spaces within a matter of hours. Research indicates that viruses such as COVID-19 can spread very rapidly in an office setting because the environment is air-conditioned and most offices have no outdoor circulation.
People do end up spending significant amounts of their daily lives in the confines of their office spaces which are high interaction areas that include various shared surfaces. This increases the chances of the spread of coronavirus. In simple words, many high touch areas in offices could be vectors for the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
As a larger number of people touch these surfaces, it increases the risk of contamination. As a business owner or manager, you need to think about how you can retrofit your office spaces in a better way so that your employees are protected from any existing and future pathogens.
Health and Safety of Utmost Importance
Businesses throughout the country have opened up or are preparing to re-open their doors. It also means that safety and health have become the No-1 priority for companies in all industries.
The conventional office space is going to look very different. All companies big and small are now looking for ways to stay in line with social distancing norms and safety regulations. There are many boxes to check before you decide to open up your office and allow employees to work within close quarters of each other.
Choosing the Right Furniture and Furnishings
While a large portion of the focus is on the physical arrangement in offices, an aspect you cannot overlook and which deserves significant attention is sanitisation, cleaning and disinfection. Numerous things need to be considered in this category. Offices that used to be cleaned only at the end of each day after employees went home, now need to be sanitised and cleaned on more urgent and regular schedules.
It is important, now more than ever, to make sure all surfaces are cleaned more frequently throughout the day. This means, considering more adaptable furniture may need to be considered. Why do you need furniture that is easy to clean? Here is a little bit of information you need to consider and understand the importance of having easy to clean office furniture during the pandemic:
During the pandemic, just as you have made it a priority to have the right kind of furniture in your home which is easy to clean, you need to do the same for office spaces as well. In most offices, third party cleaning operators handle all the regular cleaning jobs.
Therefore, making the right material and surface choices will improve the efficiency of the cleaning crews which will benefit your staff members’ health. When you are re-opening your office, think about chairs, tables, desks, storage and furniture materials.
The entire pandemic situation is a new one and not something that people have had to deal with in the past. Most of the industry is entirely lost because whenever they hear the term ‘easy to clean’, think only about vinyl and similar materials that can be bleached and cleaned. However, when it comes to the COVID-19 situation, sanitisation and cleaning mean much more than that.
You need to seriously think about the materials used on every surface and furniture in your office space because this will come into contact with the harsh cleaning agents required to disinfect and sanitise the spaces. It isn’t uncommon for many cleaning crews to use one particular type of powerful cleaner for all office surfaces and furniture. It also means that you need to be sure that those strong cleaning agents will not adversely impact the materials chosen.
The Right Materials
Here are some material choices to use in furniture in office spaces:
- Mesh – This is an easy-to-clean material that is strong and quick drying. Good quality mesh used in the backs of chairs will not shrink or stretch and does not react to most chemicals. It is also abrasion-resistant and wrinkle-free and stays resilient and fresh when dry or wet.
- Vinyl – This non-woven covering is highly durable and can be cleaned very easily. It is also able to handle extreme wear. This makes it the right choice for seating in waiting areas as well as chairs in the office spaces itself.
- Silicone – This is a relatively new environment-friendly alternative to polyurethane and vinyl. Silicon surfaces are coated in 49% polyester and 51% silicone which also makes it very easy to clean, and it becomes easier to sanitise these surfaces in an office.
- Polyurethane – This is a non-woven, synthetic material that is also breathable. It is durable and abrasion-resistant. Look for table surfaces and storage units that have a polyurethane coating.
- Polyester – You can use this material to furnish different types of office furniture. Since it is a non-absorbent material and rinses-off easily, the chemicals or solutions used in disinfecting and sanitising these furniture pieces will not sink into and stay in that material for a long time.
In short, the fabrics that you use for any upholstered commercial furniture have to be non-porous, fluid-resistant and be able to endure strong disinfectants.
Materials That Can Make Desk-Cleaning and Sanitisation Easy
For office desks, materials such as wood, veneer, laminate, plastic and glass are easy to maintain and sanitise. Laminated surfaces can be cleaned quickly, but they do not react well to ammonia-based cleaners. It is essential to ensure that the cleaning crew is not using any disinfectant products that contain ammonia. It will create a cloudy surface on the laminated furniture. Glass is a good option because it can be cleaned thoroughly and is not porous.
Other Aspects to Focus On
Apart from choosing the right kind of materials and surfaces for office furniture and fixtures, it is also essential to make sure that the design of the furniture helps maintain better cleanliness and improves sanitisation levels. For example, avoid any furniture which has a lot of curves and grooves as cleaning these out can be quite tedious and also creates many places for a virus to hide.
While focusing on all of these aspects, it is also essential to prioritise factors such as flexibility, comfort and sturdiness as well. Office spaces do tend to experience use, and a lot of it, by many people. Make sure your choice of furniture has the ability to endure wear and tear.
Office Furniture Spacing
Consider your staff’s personal working space as well by:
- Avoiding hot-desking as much as possible and making sure that there are proper dividers and spacing between the desks.
- You can also consider installing Perspex screens between all the workspaces.
- If your office deals face to face with customers on those premises, install screens in those areas as well. It will help to protect your employees as well as your customers.
- Make sure that all the workspaces are cleaned and wiped down multiple times a day.
- In addition to these things, encourage your employees to de-clutter their workstations. The lesser the clutter, the lesser the chances of viruses harbouring in those spaces. Also, when fewer items are lying around on desks, it becomes easier for the cleaning crew to clean every area of the workstation.
- If you do not have it already, plan workspaces with an open floor plan. It is another way of ensuring that there is more ventilation in the areas and fewer spaces for viruses and pathogens to hide.
Create a Safe Workspace During the Pandemic
Replacing all your furniture in the office may not be feasible for everyone. It isn’t an option everyone can act on. This can however be more expensive for you in the long run because of wear and tear. However, you could, in the meantime, consider perhaps changing a few of your fittings so that your office is safer. Not only will this improve the hygiene levels of your office, it will also encourage your employees to come to work and know that they are safe. Sanitised surfaces means safer staff.
For any more information or queries about which materials and furnishings will work best and be easy to sanitise and clean, please use this online form. One of our experts will call you shortly to discuss your requirements. They will help you with information regarding the products we have and any other furniture you want.
For any more information or queries about which materials and furnishings will work best and be easy to sanitise and clean, please use this online form. One of our experts will call you shortly to discuss your requirements. They will help you with information regarding ergonomic office chairs and any other furniture you want.
Thanks for reading,
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