Cleanliness Is Next to Productiveness

By Sue Minichiello

cleaning-keyboard“Did you know that a typical office keyboard can contain as many as 7,500 bacteria at any given moment? Or that viruses like the flu can linger on office desks or computers for 24 hours or more?”

That information, published in a recent Facility Executive, article might be startling to some, but it’s old news to AffinEco.

The company is well aware of the amount of bacteria that lurk on keyboards, desks, and many other high-touch surfaces in office buildings. That’s why its cleaning crews put a special focus on such surfaces and why the company continually seeks out new methods for more effectively killing lingering bacteria and viruses.

And that’s a really good thing from a number of perspectives, including employee productivity. In addition to obvious effects on occupant health, which reduce productivity through both absenteeism and presenteeism, there are other significant ways in which an unclean environment decreases efficiency.

But, let’s start with the health issues. Two aspects of office cleaning can affect occupant health: the efficacy of cleaning routines, products, and methods, and the potential impact of the cleaning products themselves.

Among the first to implement green cleaning in the industry, AffinEco has long understood that cleaning products can harm the health of building occupants and its own workers. For instance, strong commercial chemicals can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air and cause a range of problems such as fatigue, nausea, and respiratory issues – all of which result in decreased productivity. Thankfully, through its partnership with Spartan Chemical Company, AffinEco employs the safest cleaning products possible to achieve the desired result.

“First, we recommend environmentally preferable cleaning products – either U.S. EPA safer choice products or GreenSeal certified products. Secondly, we train our partners to select the mildest product for the specific application,” said John Schauff, CIMS, LEED, Spartan Director of Training and Government Programs.

AffinEco recently sent staff to the 2018 Spartan Training Camp, which included ISSA-certified courses in restroom care, hard floor care, and carpet care. Each module focused on the proper process to clean efficiently and effectively as well as safely.

“When we talk safe cleaning, we mean safe for the person doing the cleaning, for the next people to enter the environment, and for the built environment itself – from fixtures to indoor air quality to downstream effects,” Schauff said.

Another way AffinEco leads the pack is by using cutting edge cleaning technologies. One example is the Clorox Total 360 System, an electrostatic sprayer, which received the ISSA 2017 Innovation of the Year Award. AffinEco purchased the system last year and offers it to clients as an add-on service for an extra fee.

The electrostatic sprayer targets high-touch surfaces and difficult-to-reach areas, sanitizing and disinfecting large spaces in a short period of time. In fact, Clorox claims the system can effectively spray 18,000 square feet per hour. The kill time is about two minutes for bacteria and under two minutes for viruses. No wiping is required, and it’s safe for all surfaces including electronics. That means keyboards, computers, desktops, doorknobs, stair railings, and more can all be treated in one fell swoop.

Ultimately, there’s only so much AffinEco can do to boost office cleanliness and, consequently, productiveness. Some remedies can only be achieved by building occupants themselves.

Results from a 2015 study published by Harvard Business Review indicated “people sitting at messy desks are less efficient, less persistent, and more frustrated and weary than those at neat desks.” Experiments conducted as part of the study also showed that working in a cluttered environment reduced people’s “self-regulation,” defined as the “ability to direct yourself to do something you know you should do.” Obviously, daily tasks in one’s job often require persistence, patience, and self-regulation, so anything that decreases them decreases output.

An inordinate amount of time is also wasted in messy offices searching for documents and paperwork. The International Data Corporation asserts that a loss of productivity equating to $2.5 million per year is squandered in untidy workplaces. What’s more, studies show that employees in clean and orderly environments are happier than those in unkempt ones, and happier workers make for more productive workers. So, taking a little time to invest upfront in cleanliness on multiple levels clearly pays dividends down the line.

image courtesy of itnetworksaustralia