Shine a Light on Winter Blues
The chill of winter is almost here, and the vibrant colors of the last few weeks are exchanged for numerous shades of gray. While many of us struggle with shorter days, cold temperatures, and lack of color, about 5 percent of people find themselves grappling with another unwelcome guest: seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Considered to be a seasonal form of depression, seasonal affective disorder typically manifests during the later parts of the Fall and Winter months, when sunlight starts to become scarce. Shorter daylight hours combined with less overall sunlight lead sufferers to both an imbalance of chemicals in the brain as well as a shift in their biological clock or circadian rhythm that can cause people to be out of tune with their daily schedules. While affecting only 5 percent of people seems low, it’s important to note that SAD is more common in people living far from the equator and can last around 40 percent of the year, making our area a good candidate for the disorder.
So, how does facility management play into all of this? Broadly speaking, a facility management team aims to ensure that a facility operates efficiently, safely, and in ways that support the well-being and productivity of its occupants. Below, we’ll explore effective strategies to combat the effects of SAD, as well as provide tips for keeping productivity and morale high during the least productive months of the year.
Increase natural light. During the darker winter months, it’s no surprise that the first defense against the winter blues is through increased natural light. Consider keeping the curtains open, ensuring occupied areas are well-lit, and replacing old bulbs with LED bulbs that provide a light spectrum similar to sunlight. In addition, allow employees to bring in a “lightbox” for their desks. Sitting in front of a 10,000 Lux or brighter lightbox for at least 30 minutes in the morning can increase serotonin and endorphins, decreasing brain fog and fatigue throughout the day. Recent studies show light therapy improved symptoms of SAD in between 40 to 60 percent of people.
Add some color around the facility. This can be anything from adding some green plants around the office, hanging colorful pictures around the workplace, or even adding a fresh coat of paint to one of your walls.
Promote nutrition. A healthy and balanced diet is important for regulating our mood and energy levels. Keeping the break room stocked with healthy choices such as fruit, nuts, popcorn, coffee, and water can have a positive impact on employee well-being.
Encourage mobility on breaks and lunch. Engaging in physical activity during breaks benefits both physical and mental health and stimulates creativity and energy levels.
Declutter. Untidy environments often increase stress. If it has been a while, consider getting your facility cleaned by professionals. Not only can a thorough cleaning increase mood and focus, but it can also promote health and wellness for occupants inside the facility in a season when germs are rampant and doors and windows remain closed.
Gather employee feedback. No one knows your facility like your employees. Through them, a facility can identify problem areas, innovate solutions to those problems, and continue improving them over time.
Everyone’s experience with the winter season is unique, so it’s important to find a combination of strategies that work best for your facility. By incorporating some of the tips above, you can create a workspace that is both healthy and productive.
Shorter daylight hours and less overall sunlight can get people out of tune with their daily schedules.
The Season Ahead: Fall Maintenance Checklist
As the seasons shift, so do the needs of our buildings and their surrounding spaces.
While warmer temperatures continue to linger, the first week of fall has already passed. In the coming weeks, colors will change, leaves will fall, and the days will become shorter.
While the days may be shorter, a 2019 study shows that fall is the most productive season of the year. Here’s how you can ride that productivity wave and what tasks you should focus on to ensure your facility is prepared for everything that the fall season throws at you.
Though it may seem like fall is all about raking up leaves and disposing of them, a thorough cleanup is a proactive process that can offer a wide range of benefits for your facility and its inhabitants through safety, appearance, building protection, employee morale, and risk mitigation.
Let’s explore how these benefits align with the various tasks involved with a proper cleanup.
Leaf cleanup. It’s no surprise that the first task on your checklist is raking up those leaves and sticks. While it might seem like a no-brainer, people often overlook why it’s so important. Sitting leaves offer a damp surrounding environment, which provides an excellent habitat for mold growth. Allergy sufferers might find these mold spores are the culprit for worsening symptoms. In addition, these wet areas pose a slip-and-fall risk for those entering your facility. Since leaves fall over time, it’s best to routinely rake up and dispose of the debris throughout the season.
Windows and Seals. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heat that either escapes or enters windows accounts for roughly 30 percent of the energy used to heat and cool buildings. Rising energy costs mean you want maximum energy efficiency. Consider sealing gaps with insulation, sealing windows with caulk, investing in double-paned windows, and utilizing curtains that can create an insulating barrier between the cold windows and your warm office space.
Roof and Gutters. Checking rooftop areas and gutters for fallen leaves is an important maintenance task, as it ensures the functionality of your drainage system. Clogged gutters and drains can lead to water buildup and leakage.
Exterior Inspection. The fall season offers a good time to inspect your facilities’ external areas before the rain and snow arrive. Precipitation can fill these cracks and freeze, worsening conditions in the future. Replacing outdoor bulbs, putting outdoor furniture away, turning off water supplies to sprinkler systems and hoses, and inspecting trees around your property for potential risks are all critical tasks to ensure a safe, hazard-free facility.
HVAC check. The arrival of lower temperatures means windows stay closed; therefore, it’s vital to check your facilities’ ventilation system, as it controls everything from heating, circulating, and filtering the air. Maintaining good indoor air quality provides comfort for those in your building while also reducing the chance of illness due to harmful allergens. If it has been a while, consider having your system inspected. A professional technician should inspect the entire system, cleaning problematic areas while also replacing filters and verifying the system is running at maximum efficiency. Your HVAC system has been working non-stop during the previous months, and fall is the perfect time for a maintenance check.
Don’t think of fall as a season of chores; consider it an investment toward the safety, aesthetics, and overall success of your business. Through the implementation of these practices, you can create a secure environment that is both clean and welcoming to anyone who steps foot through your door.
A thorough cleanup is a proactive process that can offer a wide range of benefits for your facility and its inhabitants.
Cleaning for Health and Appearance: Why You Should Strive for Both
You’ve heard the phrase, “Looks can be deceiving.” While surfaces and spaces may appear clean visually, cleaning for appearance does not address the underlying issues that impact the overall well-being of employees, customers, and facilities alike.
While the pandemic brought along many problems, it also showed us that traditional cleaning methods are no longer enough; but don’t throw out your supplies just yet. Instead, re-think your current approach towards cleanliness by not just cleaning for appearance, but also cleaning for health.
While these two methods have different end goals, using them together offers a comprehensive approach to maintaining a professional environment that promotes safety, employee and customer well-being, and a positive image.
Cleaning for appearance involves organizing and tidying up, along with surface cleaning until the space looks visually appealing. Tasks such as dusting, vacuuming, arranging items, and wiping down surfaces are all examples of this style of cleaning. The primary goal of appearance cleaning is to remove dust, dirt, and impurities from surfaces.
Cleaning for health looks beyond the surface and prioritizes killing and removing germs, viruses, allergens, and contaminants in an environment for the overall safety and well-being of the building’s occupants. According to Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, office workstations can support up to 10 million bacteria, 400 times more germs than the average toilet seat. While this statement may sound surprising, it is important to remember that employees spend nearly 6 hours of their workday at their workstations and return to this space after visiting restrooms and break rooms, interacting with, and cross-contaminating frequently touched surfaces along the way. Look for products that are EPA-certified, or green products that are easier on surfaces and the user.
A technology that is becoming more widely used is electrostatic disinfectant spraying. This process eliminates 99.99% of germs and bacteria, is fragrance-free, EPA-approved, non-corrosive, and is effective against the coronavirus. More information on this technology can be found here.
We have established cleaning for appearance and health is the most effective way to clean going forward, but what does that process look like?
1. Pre-clean. Start with visually inspecting the facility, decluttering, putting things back where they belong, and sweeping up any dirt and debris.
2. The appearance clean: tasks like dusting, vacuuming, emptying trash, wiping down surfaces, and clearing them of any dirt.
3. The clean for health, starting with rooms and objects with high priority such as keyboards, light switches, doorknobs, and bathroom fixtures including sinks, handles, trash bins, and faucets. It is important to note that sanitizing is not intended to kill viruses, disinfecting is. When cleaning, start from the top and work your way down, as this prevents dirt and dust from falling on places you have already cleaned. This step also includes tasks such as deep cleaning carpets, replacing HVAC filters, and washing windows. A thorough cleaning regimen should include surface cleaning, as well as sanitizing and disinfecting.
4. Restock products and inspect the area for any missed spots.
With consumers and employees putting more focus on cleanliness and hygiene, it is important to understand that both methods of cleaning play a crucial role in the reduction of airborne pathogens and the spread of germs and that cleaning is not a one-time solution. A professional cleaning service has the knowledge and equipment to ensure your facility is giving off a positive impression to its visitors, while also offering employees a healthy, efficient, and productive workplace.
Let CorpClean handle your commercial cleaning needs. We offer customized cleaning schedules that meet your facility’s specific needs, which can be performed during or after business hours. Contact us today.
Cleaning for health looks beyond the surface and prioritizes killing and removing germs, viruses, allergens, and contaminants in an environment for the overall safety and well-being of the building’s occupants.
Breathe Easier: Improving Indoor Air Quality
Maintaining indoor air quality ensures a healthy and productive work environment; therefore, it is a crucial aspect of any business.
We tend to think of air pollution as an outdoor problem, but according to the EPA, Americans spend roughly 90 percent of their time indoors, where the concentrations of some pollutants are often 2-5 times higher than outdoor concentrations. The indoor air quality of your business not only refers to the air inside, but it also takes into account the air around your building. Whether it’s short- or long-term exposure, poor air quality can cause a variety of health issues, including respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancers. Maintaining good indoor air quality is a crucial aspect of your business, as it promotes a healthy and productive environment for your employees, customers, and visitors.
Air quality concerns are becoming a worldwide problem, and it’s a hard problem to solve because there’s no easy answer. Air quality is based on many factors and is generated through common activities such as renovating, pest control, equipment maintenance, and daily interactions with the occupants in your building. Understanding the different types of pollutants is the first step in improving air quality.
Biological pollutants. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, pollen, animal and pest dander, viruses, mold, and other allergens.
Chemical pollutants. Harmful end products from sources such as cleaning products, tobacco smoke, emissions from equipment, and gases such as carbon monoxide.
Airborne pollutants. Particles not visible to the eye, such as microplastics, dust, and dirt; resulting from things such as aerosol cleaners, sanding, painting, office equipment, and smoking.
Your building’s HVAC system plays a huge part in maintaining your building’s air quality. It’s responsible for heating, cooling, and ventilating your space. This system also severely impacts how pollutants are distributed and removed.
Many of the above pollutants are significantly cut down through a building’s HVAC system, but without the proper maintenance, your HVAC system could be worsening air quality conditions. Dirty filters are unable to trap pollutants, while also recirculating contaminated air. Aim for changing your commercial HVAC filter roughly every three months.
While we can’t control the weather, we can monitor the effects and trends. The weather outside directly influences the exchange of airflow between the outside and inside your business. Planning based around seasons is an effective strategy for air quality. Spring brings high concentrations of pollen, summer months bring mold concerns due to high humidity, autumn brings dry air along with particles from burning leaves, and in winter, businesses tend to have the windows shut, decreasing outdoor to indoor air circulation.
For help addressing issues, consider installing smart sensors that detect air quality problems. Many of these products measure variables that contribute to poor air quality such as CO2, particle matter, and humidity. These sensors often provide quick and easily visible information regarding the quality of the air around them, allowing you to adjust accordingly.
The process of improving air quality takes time, but there are some quick ways you can get started off on the right foot.
- Houseplants. Certain houseplants naturally filter the air, while providing a bit of color around the office.
- Consider using green products. These products cut down on chemicals released into the air.
- Standalone air purifiers. Consider placing these in high-traffic areas such as conference rooms.
- Humidifiers and dehumidifiers. The EPA recommends levels around 30-50 percent.
When it comes to air quality, remember to be proactive rather than reactive. Not only is improving air quality better for health and wellness, but it could also aid in improving energy costs around your business.
Outdoor weather directly influences the air quality inside your building, so seasonal planning is an effective maintenance strategy.
The Most Common Pests in Our Area (And Tips on How to Deal With Them)
With warm temperatures approaching, many businesses have a backlog of work postponed from the colder seasons, and one job often overlooked is pest control and management.
Insects tend to migrate indoors during the winter in search of a warmer climate and waste no time building a home and reproducing, which evolves into a much bigger problem in the warmer months. A pest or rodent problem in and around a facility poses threats to productivity, employee health through the spreading of contamination and diseases, and structural integrity and safety of the building.
Keep reading to learn the most common pests that you might find in and around your facility, as well as tips for how to identify and deal with them, whether through commercial management practices—trapping, baiting, insecticides, and pesticides, or through secondary practices—insect repelling plants and flowers, potent smelling ingredients such as peppermint oil and garlic, and for some friendly tips on handling minor problems on your own.
Social insects live in colonies of hundreds to thousands and are attracted to places where food has been left out or dropped. Ants are one of the most problematic pests, as they’re often hard to see and blend in with darker surfaces. Moreover, if you see one, there are many others nearby. Common control techniques include cleaning up spills, routinely removing trash, and applying bait stations and traps.
Box Elder and Stink Bugs
Drawn to warmth and exterior walls facing the sun, these insects are not a risk for damage or biting. However, they can stain surfaces as box elder bugs produce liquid feces, and stink bugs secrete a yellow liquid. Practical prevention methods for minor problems include sealing windows and cracks, removing box elder trees around the area, or a simple solution of warm, soapy water that can deter and even kill box elder and stink bugs.
Drain flies, cluster flies, gnats. Flies are insects with various species that have adapted to living in many places (drains, inside walls, trash bins). Most flies are only a nuisance, though some species can bite. The bigger issue that flies bring is the threat of infestations, as flies can produce more than a million offspring in weeks.
For minor problems, a spray bottle with soap and water can take down and kill flies.
The most problematic insect, and for a good reason. Roaches pose significant health risks, particularly in people with asthma, and can cause respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses. Also, they carry the potential for other diseases, such as dysentery, giardia, salmonella, and gastroenteritis, to name a few. Roaches are hard to kill, as insecticides are not effective against them. Along with the myriad health problems with roaches are your brand or company’s image and reputation damage.
Generally overlooked as problematic, ticks pose a significant health risk to employees and customers. A study from the Minnesota Department of Health states that one in 3 adult ticks have Lyme Disease, and one in 5 nymphs (immature stage) also contain the bacteria.
Good management techniques include clearing overgrown grass and weeds and removing grass and leaf clippings.
While some bees benefit ecosystems versus some of their counterparts, a business is no place for a bee. Carpenter bees cause structural damage when they nest in walls of buildings, yellowjackets are aggressive and can deliver a painful sting, and most bees cause a certain amount of panic. It’s important to know which type of bee you’re dealing with, as it might be better and cost-effective to re-home “good” bees versus dealing with them as a pest.
Rodents pose a high risk of damage to your facility. Squirrels, rats, and mice present a fire hazard due to their ability to chew through wiring, wood, and insulation. In addition, rodent feces are both unsightly and cause allergic reactions in people.
Pest control is essential to facility management to ensure a safe and healthy workplace environment for employees and customers. Effective pest control can have the most impact by following a few steps.
1. Conduct regular inspections. Identify signs of infestations (feces, carcasses, chewed items) and locate potential nesting areas, in addition to property walk-throughs and assessment of systems where nests or destruction may have occurred (pipes, wiring, vents)
2. Implement preventative measures: Seal cracks and gaps in windows and walls, routinely declutter, keep the facility free of debris, and properly store food and dispose of food waste.
3. Educate employees: Teach employees about proper food storage and management and identify signs of a pest problem.
4. Hiring a professional pest control service. A good, quality pest control service not only deals with removing unwanted guests but also works with your wants and needs to develop a plan that will keep your facility running smoothly and critter-free. These professionals have the knowledge and the techniques of treating and eliminating pests which allow these methods to be applied most effectively and efficiently, reducing recurrence and saving you long-term money.
At CorpClean, our team of professionals and those we work with can inspect problematic areas, identify threats, develop a plan of action that includes treatment options and preventative measures, and continue to monitor the overall progress of the process while providing minimal disruption to your business.
A pest or rodent problem threatens productivity, employee health, and overall safety of your building.
Curb Appeal Matters: 8 Steps to Ensuring Your Building Puts Its Best Foot Forward
The only thing harder than making a good impression is making up for a bad one.
People make judgments almost immediately, and your commercial building’s exterior appearance can make or break their perceptions. If your business looks clean and well maintained on the outside, people will assume the same is true inside.
You want to present an inviting environment that shows you care about the products and services provided within the building’s walls by its people. Here are a few steps you can take to improve your facility’s curb appeal:
1. Clean your building’s exterior seasonally or at least annually.
Brick or other siding materials, the roof, and gutters tend to get neglected until they look bad. Staying ahead of the cleaning will keep your building looking fresh and new and may cut down on repair work.
2. Keep sidewalks swept and parking lots free of debris.
Be sure to fix any cracks that develop right away. Not only does this improve the appearance, but damaged and uneven walkways are a potential hazard and insurance risk.
3. Wash windows inside and out at least monthly.
Sparkling clean windows show attention to detail and make everything appear brighter and more hygienic.
4. Manage your company’s waste.
Schedule regular trash pickup. Don’t leave dumpsters in a visible location on your property. If the containers get old and battered, request your waste management company to provide new ones. Create a fenced area to provide screening. No one wants to see yesterday’s Taco Tuesday lunch remnants.
5. Keep pests at bay.
Pest control inspections and treatments should be scheduled quarterly or more frequently, depending on the property’s location and internal activities. Specific factories may require unique applications depending on their production. Visible signs of rodents, cockroaches, and other unsightly critters are an instant turnoff to anyone entering your building.
6. Install proper exterior signage.
The right signage will make way-finding easier for everyone entering your site. Make sure all signs are visible from a distance. Customers and visitors will appreciate the easy navigation directing them to their desired destination.
7. Make certain designated smoking areas are not visible as visitors approach or leave the grounds.
Every worker is entitled to their breaks; however, having idle workers gathered outside your building does not convey a message of confidence.
8. Landscaping is one of the best methods to improve your building’s curb appeal.
It goes a long way in providing a welcoming and uplifting atmosphere for both visitors and employees. A few simple plantings of trees, shrubbery, and flowers can make a huge difference. It’s a low-cost investment that will last for years. Don’t forget to schedule pruning and trimming to keep everything looking good as seasons change.
Curb appeal should be a vital component of your ongoing cleaning and maintenance regimen. The outward appearance of your company is a direct reflection of your brand. If people see a well-kept and inviting property upon their approach, it will generate an immediate positive opinion about your company and its products and services. Taking these extra steps will create a professional environment. Take pride in your building, and employees will respect it as well. And customers will take notice and appreciate your attention to detail.
Office managers don’t always know how to secure these services and who to contact, so they hire multiple services—one for cleaning and property maintenance, another for grass cutting or snow removal, and a third for window washing. CorpClean can help reduce redundancy by providing many of these services. We’ll assess your company’s needs and make the proper arrangements.
Let us make your job easier and coordinate your cleaning and maintenance services. Then you’ll know, “It’s taken care of.”
If your business looks clean and well maintained on the outside, people will assume the same is true inside.
Safeguarding Your Office Against Monkeypox
What you can do to keep work areas safe from monkeypox and ensure employees are comfortable returning to the office.
Just as you thought it was safe to bring everyone back to the office, the federal government announced another health threat. The White House recently declared monkeypox a national public health emergency, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) quickly issued updated guidelines for cleaning professionals. Many employees are concerned about contamination in their physical workspaces with this new virus, so building managers must address these valid concerns. Let’s first better understand the monkeypox virus and how it is transmitted. According to the CDC, the monkeypox virus is similar to smallpox but milder and rarely fatal. Monkeypox was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like illness occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research. Despite being named “monkeypox,” the source of the infection remains unknown. However, African rodents and non-human primates (like monkeys) might harbor the virus and infect people. The first human case of monkeypox occurred in 1970. Before the 2022 outbreak, people reported the disease in several central and western African countries. Transmission typically occurs through direct skin-to-skin contact. Contact can be from touching an infected person’s rash, scabs, or body fluids. One can also be infected when coming into contact with objects or fabrics such as clothing, towels, or bed linens used by someone with the disease. Studies show that the live virus can remain active for weeks or even months if not adequately eliminated. Soft surfaces appear to retain the virus longer than hard surfaces. Thorough cleaning is vital to maintaining a virus-free environment and keeping workers productive. The CDC recommends using disinfectants found on the EPA’s Emerging Viral Pathogens list (also known as List Q). CorpClean employs an electrostatic disinfectant spraying method containing VitalOxide, one of the List Q products. VitalOxide kills 99.999 percent of germs and bacteria and is fragrance-free, gentle, and safe to use around people and pets. An electrostatic sprayer saves time and labor, sprays less liquid, and covers more surfaces. The technology provides an electrical charge to solutions, allowing them to wrap conductive surfaces with adequate coverage evenly. Double-charged particles envelope all conductive surfaces—shadowed, vertical, and underneath. Electrostatic spraying ensures 100 percent area coverage. CorpClean is ready to handle the following businesses: commercial, institutional & governmental, educational, industrial, logistic support centers, retail centers, hospitality, healthcare, and childcare. Let us take the worry out of your everyday or as-needed cleaning needs.
You can take other steps to help prevent the spread of monkeypox and other contagious viruses at work and at home.
Make sure everyone has the correct information about the virus and educate them on how they can help prevent spreading the virus. Keep messages fact-based to avoid creating stigma when communicating about monkeypox.
Anyone who suspects they have been diagnosed with the monkeypox virus should be isolated until fully healed (which may take two to four weeks.)
Everyone should have access to hand washing stations, frequently wash their hands, and use hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60 percent alcohol. Those coming into direct contact with an infected person, objects they used, or surfaces they touched should wash their hands immediately and thoroughly.
When cleaning areas where an infected person has been, avoid using equipment or activities that could readily spread dried material from lesions, such as fans, sweeping, dry dusting, or vacuuming. Soiled linens should be kept separate from other laundry items (do not shake, as this could disperse contaminated particles) and laundered with regular detergent and warm water.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Use proper equipment such as masks, gowns, eye protection, and gloves when entering an isolation area, cleaning and disinfecting, or doing laundry. We may be entering a new age where infectious diseases such as Covid-19 and monkeypox are more prevalent, so now is the time to take action and establish a regular industrial cleaning regimen. Let CorpClean secure your business and stay ahead of any new contaminates that may be on the horizon. Call us today to get started.
The live monkeypox virus can remain active for weeks or even months if not adequately eliminated.