Over the past decade or so, a focus on having a healthy office environment for employees has become a priority for most employers. Special acoustic roofing and wall materials were developed to deaden sound. Lighting has been developed that lessens the eyestrain and headaches that older forms of lighting are known to cause. Air conditioning and heating systems have improved filtration to reduce dust and other allergens from being circulated in the air. Furniture is ergonomic, to reduce back strain,… and the list goes on and on.
Ironically, in the pursuit of a more healthy working environment the most fundamental aspect of a healthy office is often overlooked. The most futuristic of offices that incorporate every advancement in lighting, air filtration, and ergonomics imaginable can be a less healthy environment than an office suite in an older office building. This is all well and good, but any environment workers spend hours enclosed in must also be clean to be healthy.
A clean office is not necessarily the newer office with the polished glass and chrome furnishings, shiny buffed floors and total absence of dust or fingerprints on surfaces. The truly clean and healthy office environment is, of course, spotless. However, it is also properly sanitized and free of harmful chemicals the cleaning process can introduce.
Most office building management administration or even individual office managers take bids when looking for janitorial or building maintenance services. Unfortunately, the criteria for determining that the contractor is living up to its end of the relationship places emphasis on shinny surfaces, clean washrooms, polished floors and vacuumed carpets, emptied trash cans and so on. Rarely does a building or office administrator pay heed to what chemicals have been introduced to the air or are coating every surface in an office.
Professional commercial janitorial services are familiar with the products they use, and the good ones use non-allergenic, non-carcinogenic, bio degradable cleaning products to protect the health of their clients and their clients’ employees. Unfortunately not all commercial janitorial services do because the safer commercial cleaning chemicals, the more costly they are. Plus, it’s often necessary to spend more time to properly removing chemicals used to clean carpets and upholstery fabric than some services invest.
The appearance of a clean office is assumed to be a healthy office environment and generally is. However, employees prone to respiratory or skin allergies may find the cleanliness of their work place the cause of discomfort to outright agony to work in. Even employees without allergies can suffer when confined in a enclosed space that has recently had carpets shampooed, window covers cleaned, ventilation ducts cleaned, upholstered furniture shampooed, and so on. Common symptoms are irritated throats, itchy or burning eyes, coughing or skin irritation.
It is important to meet with someone from whatever firm or firms will be shampooing office carpets and upholstery, cleaning washrooms and cafeteria areas, windows, floors, and so on to discuss the products the firm intends to use. Often employees with allergies do not disclose their medical condition to employers. To be on the safe side, employers have to assume they have employees with skin, food or respiratory allergies on staff and work to assure nothing is introduced into the office environment is going to cause a reaction.
Office managers, as well as building maintenance managers have their eye on the bottom line, as they should. Here is the bottom line… Protecting the health of employees enhances productivity, while at the same time minimizes health insurance and WCB premiums. The gain in productivity and savings in health insurance and WCB premiums is usually enough to cover the added cost of awarding cleaning contracts to truly professional janitorial services that will use more costly, but healthier cleaning products and processes.