By Sue Minichiello
As more companies welcome back employees to their places of business, controlling COVID-19 transmission and maintaining a healthy work environment are critical. Many aspects of the responsibility for related policies, practices, and government-mandated directives belong to facility owners and managers, and their building service contractors (BSCs). As a leading cleaning and maintenance BSC, AffinEco takes those responsibilities very seriously.
“Few of our customers’ buildings remain closed at this point and, although most are not fully inhabited, we are treating them as vigilantly as we would if they were at 100% occupancy,” said AffinEco Managing Partner Michael Diamond. Office buildings will likely remain less densely populated even post-vaccine, Diamond added, because many companies plan to adopt a hybrid in-office and work-from-home model. Recent reports in The New York Times, Forbes, Wired, and other publications validate that outlook.
Also in the context of COVID-19, the BSC industry has shifted from one-step cleaning to two-step cleaning and disinfecting. “We’ve always increased and intensified disinfecting practices during flu season, but now it’s an everyday necessity, even though it’s more labor-intensive for our crews,” Diamond said. He also said that AffinEco took a hard look at typical staffing and routines, opting to reallocate some staff from less important tasks (like extra vacuuming) to augment high-touch point cleaning and disinfecting.
Even before coronavirus was declared a global pandemic, AffinEco anticipated the severity of the outbreak and jumped ahead of the pack to secure equipment and supplies. Since then, the company has consistently modified and added routines, multiplied its disinfecting equipment, enhanced its technology to comply with new regulations, and enrolled managers and staff in cutting-edge training and certification courses. With the situation still at crisis levels, AffinEco continues to respond to necessities dictated by the pandemic. According to Managing Partner Paul Senecal, the company is proactively pursuing the tools and adopting the procedures that deliver the best transmission-control results without jeopardizing other aspects of tenant or employee health and safety.
Today’s AffinEco cleaning crews are armed with disinfectants that are EPA-registered and CDC-recommended for use against COVID-19, and the company increased its fleet of electrostatic sprayers from three to nearly 100 in a matter of months so it could meet customer demand for the service.
About 10 managers recently completed a training course on COVID-19 prevention and are passing on specific cleaning, disinfecting, and restroom maintenance lessons to their site supervisors and crews. Senecal and Diamond said they were thrilled to receive an email from the course instructor who wrote, “Everyone [from AffinEco] that attended was engaged, attentive, and eager to learn. As a Certified Trainer, it is a pleasure to work with a group like that. My compliments to you and your entire team.”
AffinEco also sent 35 of its staff to a special training from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), a division of ISSA (International Sanitary Supply Association). In the GBAC’s “Microbial Warrior Workshop,” attendees learned specific infection and contamination control measures for infectious disease outbreak situations like COVID-19. It’s one more example of how AffinEco has adapted to and trained its workforce to fight this pandemic.
Whenever AffinEco sends its employees for training, it’s a win-win. Its clients benefit from the application of enhanced knowledge and skills, and so do its employees. Such courses often include facets that increase worker health and safety on the job, and that’s just as important to the company’s leadership team. You need look no further for evidence of that than its continual investment in PPE like coveralls, N95 respirators, goggles, gloves, and shoe covers — no matter the cost — or its implementation of new pre-shift health check technology.
“Over the course of nearly 55 years in this business, we’ve built a reputation for going the extra mile to achieve the best results in the safest and most cost-effective ways possible,” said Senecal. “Meeting or exceeding the needs and expectations of our customers — and of our employees — is literally our mission, and that mission feels more important these days than ever before.”