Many offices have no choice but to function throughout the pandemic. Once the second wave passess, the remaining offices too will see a return to work in at least some measure. When they do, they will require a level of cleaning and disinfection that was unheard of before the pandemic. Angad Rajain, Global IFM Head & CSO, Tenon Group shares his insights on how various areas, surfaces and situations can be made hygienic for office-goers in the near future
Cleaning: Pre- and post-pandemic
Pre-Covid, the cleaning process used to involve usage of basic chemicals for once-a-day cleaning activity before the offices opened, followed by cleaning of any spillage on floors in the cafeteria during the day as an ongoing process. The deep cleaning activity was carried out once a week on the weekends.
Post-Covid, the cleaning norm has changed wherein all the furniture, including desktops and chairs, are cleaned and sanitized at an interval of 2-3 hours with specialized chemicals which are effective in countering the coronavirus. All touch points including doors, switchboards, railings are regularly dusted on an ongoing basis during the day to reduce the chance of transmission. The role of housekeeping has been transformed from just cleaning and maintenance to holistic hygiene maintenance.
Now, as per our cleaning procedure, at the time of the first cleaning in the morning, extra care is taken to ensure that all the surfaces are completely cleaned; this is because the second application of sanitization chemicals requires all the surfaces to be free of any dust or dirt in order to be effective. The process of regular dusting with sanitization chemicals is carried out at an interval of two hours for all the workstations. A ULV disinfection treatment is carried out after office hours to ensure the office is sanitized and ready for use the next day.
In case there is a Covid-positive person found at any workstation, the housekeeping/sanitization professionals are called to sanitize the premises. They ensure that they wear proper PPE kits including gloves, masks and face-shield. Disposal of the biohazardous material post cleaning is also a task carried out by the housekeeping staff.
The office floor is regularly cleaned with the appropriate sanitization and cleaning chemicals at regular intervals. Most entrances have now got a sanitizing machine for disinfecting shoes at the entrance which ensures that the floors are kept disinfected from external viruses. Regular mopping ensures eradication of the remaining bacteria and virus from the floor.
The new role of disinfection
Before the pandemic, disinfection was not a concept which was recognized by companies as something that was essential and was not carried out for any of our customers. Pre-pandemic, the process was a curative one; in case the client required the service, they would just take an appointment and get it done without any regular schedule. Post-pandemic, disinfection as a specialized service is being demanded on a daily basis with a proper schedule of time intervals in place at offices with high footfall and 24×7 shifts like BPOs, banking sector, manufacturing plants etc, and on a weekly basis for the IT sector, which has skeletal staffing.
Post-pandemic, disinfection is done as a preventive measure too. It is done generally at the end of the cleaning part, which means that it is conducted in the morning once the first cleaning is over, followed by regular sanitization with the help of dusting at regular intervals during the day. In case employees at a site are reported as Covid-positive, the site is sanitised by our professionals and made operational within six hours from the point of inception.
Our turnaround time has decreased significantly to facilitate business continuity for all our clients. We have expanded our team to bring down this time gap.
Technique and frequency of disinfection
The process to be used is a non-contact procedure called ULV Fogging. However, in order to ensure 100% safety, we recommend that articles like desktops, doors, touchpoints must be manually cleaned with the requisite chemicals for the virus to be completely eradicated from the surface. The ULV fogger can add a second layer of chemical for disinfection.
The ULV fogging and thermal fogging treatment ensures that the air in the premises is sanitized. Maintaining the HVAC system ensures that appropriate temperature is maintained and the infection does not spread through the air.
The frequency of disinfection is decided on the basis of footfall received at a site, type of organisation and number of shifts in the organisation. A 24×7 facility needs to be sanitized after every 8 hour shift along with regular dusting of workstations at an hourly interval, whereas a skeletal staffing office requires a bi-weekly sanitization to keep the virus at bay.
During the working hours of the office, the disinfection is carried out only if the employees are not in the office. The employees are asked to leave the office premises to ensure that the infection does not spread from any surface and the disinfection can be carried out.