Building an Office Atmosphere for Creative Minds

Building and Office for Creative Minds

London is fortunate enough to be a centralized hub of creative minds. With a number of studios, production houses, marketing and advertisement agencies helping global companies deliver content to leverage them as key players in their sector.  London’s advertising industry transnationally is arguably one of the oldest and most successful. You’ll find huge names like Bartle Bogle Hegarty, DDB Worldwide, J.Walter Thompson and WPP. As well as design houses like Interbrand, Landor and Wolff Olins.

With that in mind, companies now are focusing on their internal space and making way for new changes that foster creativity. London’s architecture isn’t something that can be changed. This makes it difficult for businesses that are working in offices that can’t easily be adapted to the changing work patterns of their employees. Or, in most cases, still have décor channelled from the late 80’s.

That being said, there are effective changes that can be made to foster productivity in your office and give it a boost as well as creating an environment that allows creativity to be fluid between all departments.   This allows your business to not be held back from unforgiving office layouts.

 

Locate a zone for creative thinking

A lively environment can be a difficult concept to deliver in your office environment. Lively offices encourage creative thinking as employees share and bounce ideas between each other. Everybody in one way or another has suffered from the frustrating ‘writers block’.

Designating areas within the office can be a positive shift. Areas can be found in communal zones, around open plan kitchens, comfy corners or even in spare rooms used for infrequent meetings. These designated areas allow employees to know where to head for creative freedom. It also means those who prefer to work in peace won’t be held back from their work.

Now you’ve chosen the location, provide comfortable seating, white boards for ideas to be scribbled and developed as well as fruit or fresh juice as refreshments. Building the office to be an extension of a comforting home can build a creative culture throughout the company.

 

Reduce clutter and make things movable

Desks that are cluttered, with poor organisation, and filled with unimportant documents will hold back clarity of thought for everyone. Cluttered desks only promote cluttered minds. Providing desk organisers, functional storage units and encouraging employees to have monthly desk clear outs will definitely help. This will also enable your cleaning provider to disinfect desks and equipment efficiently, impacting not only creative thinking but also reducing cross contamination of viruses in your office. Healthy employees take less days off, and are more motivated to work and meet deadlines.

Sitting in the same space day in day out can, for some, be really demotivating. Having desks that can be easily relocated, creative boards moved to others walls, or plants re-positioned can help to change your employees approach to work. Providing fresh surroundings can help to inject new thought processes.

 

Bring natural life inside 

Plants provide a host of benefits to offices, from their calming effect to increasing internal air quality. Visually, plants offer numerous shades of vibrant green and those that flower bring additional soft colours. For creative minds, plants can provide an opportunity for visual meditation, ultimately leading to more productive and calm employees.

Offices are often sealed when the luxury of opening windows is not available often because of high rise building or air conditioning units providing ‘optimum’ indoor conditions. Outdoor pollution is a major issue for London; open windows leave internal areas prone to toxic air. Multiple culprits for toxicity in offices comes from dust, VOC’s found in air fresheners or compounds released from old furniture. As well as formaldehydes and chemicals released from cleaning materials.

Plants are perfect for negating some of these pollutant effects. Choosing the right plant will provide internal conditions that will help to keep your employees healthy and proactive. As well as adding a calming advantage for everyone. We recommend:

  • Areca Palm: A super effective plant that removes toxins and provides water vapour to make sure your office isn’t affected by dry air.
  • Lady Palm: A perfect plant for offices that aren’t flooded with natural sunlight and thrive in cool spaces. Its slow growth gives longevity and is perfect for bringing life to empty corners.
  • Bamboo Palm: A fantastic solution for removing toxins found in rooms filled with formaldehyde found commonly in rubbers and detergents. . This will help to rid heavy heads within the office.

If your cleaning provider hasn’t approached you with the option of chemical free cleaning materials, we highly suggest this is something you chat to them about. Not only do chemical-free solutions help you as a company become more environmentally conscious, it also protects your staff from increased levels of toxicity which can be simply avoided. If employees suffer from asthma or allergies, you’ll also be helping them to manage these conditions.

 

Add splashes of colour and inspiration to walls

Colour has the ability to impact a person’s mood or feeling towards an environment. Adding colour to walls also allows companies to brand their office. This is perfect for visiting clients, allowing them to feel and see your company culture. Your colour scheme should reflect the creativity within your office.

Blue and orange is commonly associated with creativity. Whereas red and black more so with dominance and power. Selecting colours, whether it’s paint on the walls or choice of accessories, will help to invigorate team moral and provide pieces of inspiration.

This is the same for feature pieces; decorations in your office should reflect the company’s creative outlook. When new ideas are needed these key pieces can remind employees of the company culture, their creative direction and help stimulate fresh new ideas. Again, when clients visit they’ll be able to see a true reflection of your company’s ability to think outside the box and deliver an exceptional design led service.

Your Spring Cleaning Check List Made Easy!

Spring cleaning checklist

We are so glad spring has finally started to show its slightly warmer face. It gives everyone the perfect excuse to clear out any unwanted things within the office. In doing so making way for a fresh and clutter free start to the season. We’re all prone to collecting various pieces of ‘tat’ that stick around taking up valuable space on our desks. Even the most organised of us benefit from a clear out.

Office cleaning can be done by either a commercial cleaning provider or by employees as a team task with multiple benefits. We’ve made a list that will give you some tips to help you make the most out of this year’s spring-time office cleaning:

 

1. Bin anything that’s not needed:

Your office without a doubt represents your company and its culture. If your office is where clients or guests visit, the last thing you want is giving an impression that your work reflects your potentially unkempt and messy environment. Ensuring that your facility is clean, tidy and professionally organised work wonders for making the right first impression.

Not just limited to your desk, offices are like our homes. They’re a prime location for a build-up of things no longer needed. Whether it’s old files, documents and notes, broken furniture or worn in filing cabinets. Cables become untidy causing trip hazards and plants that once had a better life may still be sat on windowsills.

Take a look at everything around you and work out what has and hasn’t been used over the last couple of months. How important are these pieces that are taking up valuable space? If they don’t make the cut then be confident to throw them away. This can make space for fresh faced items, or making more room in your office.  An airy environment is one that helps to create a sense of calm. This calming effect can help with maintaining your team’s morale, health and productivity.

 

What to do with unwanted items?

  • Throwing furniture away? Why not donate these items to a charity or to new start-ups that are struggling to fund their new office furniture. You’ll be sharing the feel good factor of a spring office clean!
  • Found files that are safe to be binned along with other paper or recyclable items. To make sure you are environmentally conscious ensure they are recycled properly. If you don’t have a recycling system in place then maybe this is something to think about!

 

2. The ultimate desk clean

So often we sit at our desks with paperwork and files building up in a way that creates what everyone calls an “organised mess”. Creating a team event out of desk clean-ups will help your team to feel motivated in maintaining a tidy office environment. These team orientated events can be weekly or monthly! It also means for those that use office cleaning providers, their operatives will be able to clean all surfaces without touching or moving paper work.

Organisation is key and by understanding your employees desk functionality a stationary list can be created for new items. Purchasing paper trays, baskets or filing units will help your company’s organisation be more effective long term. We have all fallen victim to shoving paper work in our desk draws and struggled to find it at a later date when it really matters.

Helping your employees to feel motivated and in control of their work load will help their productivity. With deadlines becoming increasingly short, the tidiness of your employee’s office desks will make a real impact.

 

 

3. The act of cleaning

We recommend, where available, you use a professional office cleaning provider. This means the stress and hassle of continually managing cleaning activities can be passed on to a company that specialises in contracted cleaning. No longer will you have to stress over organising window cleaning, periodic carpet cleaning or juggling the annoyance of simple tasks not being done like bins being emptied.

 

Spring cleaning from a contracted office cleaning service provider:

  • On top of your employees managing their own desk organisation, service providers will be able to truly clean the nitty gritty. Technology specific cleaning materials are used that will sanitise everything from your phone to computer keyboard without leaving annoying streaks on desktop screens.
  • Carpets and hard floors will often be marked with stains from shoes and inevitable spillages of tea and coffee. Periodic cleaning means creating a longer lifespan for your floors. Depending on the pile of your carpet or hard floor material, time effective technology and man power will be used so your office faces minimal room down time.  This creates fresh and clean flooring for everybody to enjoy.
  • Kitchen areas are prone to high levels of bacteria. Read our blog here to learn about hidden germs! Having a dedicated cleaner will mean all areas of your kitchen will be spotless. Fridge clean outs will happen, all surfaces and appliances are cleaned and disinfected. Coffee mugs will be washed ready for the next day. An added bonus is that properly disinfecting these high footfall areas can actually reduce cross contamination and employee sick days.
  • We mentioned above the importance of properly recycling your waste. Spring cleaning offers the perfect opportunity to kick start this plan. Having a streamlined waste management process is not only good (and crucial in today’s climate) for the environment but also for your corporate social responsibility. Your company will be setting a standard for its focus on becoming more eco-friendly!

Our list of key points does not mean that you need to employ a contracted service to ensure the above are always completed and maintained. Management processes are key with keeping your office environment hygienic. Keeping on top of these and having your employees actively involved in the organisation of your office will really help.

Let us know by leaving a comment if our tips helped your office, or if you have any other points we missed that you think are important for a successful office spring clean.

If you want a professional service, why not give us a call?

School Cleaning and Absenteeism

school learning

School cleaning providers now face new challenges when servicing academic institutions; not only is there an on-going focus to create an engaging environment but also one that is hygienic. Cleaning providers to stand above competition, must now provide adequate solutions to overcome cross contamination of sickness within schools; specifically viral outbreaks.

OFSTED ratings and funding provided by local councils are now more so assessed on absenteeism rates. Therefore more than ever it is crucial that cleaning providers are integrating the wide range of innovative technology available to create school cleaning solutions that are both financially viable, but also positively assist schools in managing their non-attendance rates to prevent funding cuts.

Whether or not everybody agrees with the process in which OFSTED operates, their purpose is to ensure that all schools are providing exemplary services whilst delivering engaging curriculums in an environment that is stimulating and clean. For schools that are under achieving, OFSTED focuses attention on providing the required support to bring these schools to a suitable standard. Their independent evaluation enables parents to confidently determine whether a given school is one that will ensure their child has equal opportunities available to excel, whilst receiving any support required during terms times, to ensure the highest possible level of engagement and achievement.

OFSTED Ratings and Council Funding

One area that has been a focus for OFSTED is absenteeism. With headmasters prohibiting children being removed from school during term time without given permission. Parents who have failed to abide by these rules now face disciplinary action. It is evident that perhaps one reason for this, besides the obvious that children who are not present in school face academic challenges with teachers now having little time to recap on content that is missed. OFSTED as part of their comprehensive inspection include absenteeism rates as part of their determination of how responsive a school is in ensuring their pupils are adequately following the outlined curriculum.

OFSTED ratings also offer local councils a means of measurement to determine how much funding will be provided to a given school. A rather simple, yet questionably harsh rule is followed that schools will receive adequate funding for students that are registered in the classroom. Funding will not be given for students who are continually absent. With budget cuts occurring across all sectors, it is no surprise that the education system is suffering. Therefore, for a school to continue to receive sustainable funding from councils, to continue to attract parents and give reassurance in teaching quality, strict consideration must be taken when choosing a school cleaning provider. Costing is always a deciding factor therefore, providers must create true value for money in all contract quotes, value that is above only monetary terms.

Cross Contamination and Viral Outbreaks

Schools are a prime place for the harboring of bacteria and germs that cause flu and Norovirus outbreaks. The latest data on school absenteeism for the UK found that illness was the main driver of overall absence rates accounting for 55.3% between 2016/17. Reinforcement of hand-washing, proper hygiene and the use of disinfectant wipes can be used to provide assistance in preventing germs. However, with minimal guarantee that all students are following these protocols strictly, smarter cleaning solutions are needed.

We understand schools are under financial pressure to find cost effective and time efficient cleaning methods. Professional cleaning companies are now able to monopolise on the innovation led transition the industry is currently moving through. Focus has been placed on reducing labor hours and therefore cutting costs, whilst maximising return on investment with any machinery that is required. Furthermore, there is a just expectation that school cleaning providers must consult Facility Managers on what market leading initiatives are available outside of cleaning solutions to assist in management of viral outbreaks.

Abelian integrates innovative cleaning solutions which focus on cross contamination control. Examples of our methods are:

  • Antibacterial Door Handles: The covers very simply snap onto door handles, with universal sizes available, which kill 99.9% of bacteria. Viruses on door handles are able to spread within an hour throughout an entire building. The 6 month life span of these handles make them the perfect complimentary addition to sanitisation, proving to be a cost and time effective addition.
  • Electrostatic Spray Systems: this technology is capable of sanitising a room within minutes dependent on size and surface coverage. The spray technology creates a mist of sanitisation fluid, creating no damage to electrical equipment whilst offering 360 coverage of all surfaces and hard to reach areas with high levels of bacteria and virus causing pathogens. This method reduces labor hours and the number of cleaners needed for operation, as reflected in the contract price. Services with this technology are able to be carried out on a reactive basis or as a periodic scheduled action to reduce the risk of outbreaks and spreading of viral germs. Just think, this method takes only moments to sanitise toys, table tops, toilets and the surrounding room.
  • Biodegradable Cleaning Products: There are ongoing conversations regarding the need and use of toxic chemicals when cleaning environments where children play. Abelian is able to provide a comprehensive cleaning schedule that uses toxic chemical free cleaning agents. Not only reducing the risk to children should they come into contact with said non-toxic chemicals, whether by touching surfaces or within the air molecules, these methods also go towards helping schools to reduce their environmental impact.

Parents that seek to send their children to specific schools are those that are ensuring a safe environment for their children is being created and sustained. Attention is being paid to the methods of cleaning and the proactive approach a school has to ensure viral outbreaks are reduced so children aren’t retuning home ill and more crucially won’t need to be away from the classroom.  Likewise our methods are a sure way of, in terms of cleaning, ensuring that with regulatory inspections the cleanliness and appearance of the school will be expertly managed causing no risk to OFSTED ratings.

As an introductory offer Abelian are providing demonstrations to school Facility Managers, or those who take responsibility in finding school cleaning providers, enabling visual evidence of the impact and results our innovative methods have. We are also able to provide a complete cleaning quote for all services required inclusive of school cleaning, daily janitors, window cleaning, waste management and pest control. As now it is more important than ever that the right school cleaning provider is selected to assist in the management of sickness cross contamination.

5 top tips on how to improve your office air quality

We’re all aware of the negative implications pollution and poor air quality has upon us. Our health is continually and detrimentally affected by pollutants that cause increased rates and risks of asthma, respiratory and inflammatory disease. Risks do not stop there as evidence suggests these pollutants are a major cause of cancer, and heart disease – unfortunately for those currently suffering with a heart or lung condition their risk is amplified.

We know the government are attempting, some may argue not strongly enough, to reduce the level of emissions within London. Although it is evident such plans are failing to evoke enough change, Brixton Road has already breached the legal limit set by the European Union 18 times. Evidence suggests that Government compliance to ensure the levels of nitrogen dioxide fall within a safe limit will not be achieved until 2026. These are alarming facts that should, rightly so, leave us with a feeling of nervousness around our health when living in a city that still, even with charged improvements, relies so heavily on road transport.

Simple Changes Make a Real Impact

Clean air day reminded us that we can all implement simple changes in our everyday lives to help reduce the amount of air pollution we emit per person. We can opt to walk or cycle to work or leisure activities. If transportation is needed maximising the use of public transport, or car sharing with colleagues – not just saving the planet but creating opportunities to become more friendly with the people who work within our offices.

But what can we do when it comes to internal air pollution, and more specifically when it comes to the office environment?

Internal Air Quality

What is internal air quality? This refers to the level of air quality within an enclosed space, your office, and the amount of pollutants that impact the health and comfort of those working within this space.

Within the built environment, especially in London, offices very often don’t have the capacity to open windows to allow ventilation – cooling systems are often used in place. Although, with the facts available it is more than likely safer to actually keep windows shut when offices are located close to high road traffic areas.

There are various things Facility Managers can implement to ensure the air quality is at a level that is both safe and comfortable for all employees. We’ve listed below some of our top tips.

Our Top Tips to Make Sure Your Office Has Peak Internal Air Quality:

  • The importance of plants to act as natural filtration systems: As we mentioned previously some buildings don’t have the capacity to open windows, and those that are placed near busy roads will actually encourage pollutants to enter the office space when open – this is a big no, no for air quality. To overcome this ensuring the office has various plants that act as natural filters – ideally green leafy varieties should be favoured over flowering plants. It’s recommended for peak filtration one plant should be used per every 100 square feet to effectively impact air quality and remove toxins. Moreover there are numerous benefits to having these leafy friends dotted around the office. The most important being they are notorious for creating a calm and stress-free environment, increasing creativity and productivity.

Recommended plants to have within the office are: Spider Plants, Dracaena, Peace Lilies, Bamboo Palms and Aloe Vera.

  • Reduce the release of VOC’s in the office environment: VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds), are emitted as gas from both solids and liquids into the air. Numerous products leak VOC’s, they are found in scented air fresheners, cleaning products and even furniture and floor coverings. It is obvious that removing all such products is impossible for a functional environment to be created. We suggest that where possible controls are put in place to limit the number of VOC’s made available within the office environment.VOC’s act as irritants to the eyes, nose and throat and can lead to frequent headaches or fatigue in those who are continually exposed. This problem is maximised if an efficient air filtration system isn’t available and traditional ventilation by opening a window isn’t possible. Your employee health is a gauge to access the quality of your air, if continual headaches and fatigue is being expressed a red flag should be raised.Facility managers can help to monitor the release of VOC’s by reducing the number of scented fresheners used within the room. Ensuring any filtration system in place is regularly cleaned and filtration parts are replaced to prevent dust build up, and the removal of pathogens or moulds that build up within the filtration system.When choosing an office cleaning provider selecting those, like Abelian, that has a full range of toxic chemical free and biodegradable product range available is so important. By facilitating this cleaning approach VOC levels within the environment are reduced and managed to safeguard your employees. Environmental impact is also minimised, creating a win-win situation.

Effective and regular office cleaning: As mentioned above when choosing a cleaning provider attention must be paid to the cleaning product range. However this isn’t the entire solution to increasing the air quality within your office space – the cleaning schedule is imperative to creating peak hygiene and reduce the cross contamination of pathogens.

Carpets are a hub for pathogen and bacterial growth, whilst absorptive hard floors further create a safe haven for optimum growth. Mould, dust and bacteria are able to easily grow and spread in spaces that don’t receive adequate cleaning. Or when cleaning is carried out in a way that merely moves rather than removes these build ups.

There are predictable times throughout the year when viral outbreaks are considerably more likely to affect all office environments. Offices that do not have a reactive system in place to sanitise and disinfect all surfaces within the office increase their risk of employee absenteeism. Abelian builds into all of their contracts a reactive system that ensures your office isn’t detrimentally affected by seasonal viral outbreaks, with time and cost effective solutions.

Employing solutions that effectively remove the effects of dust build ups, regular cleaning of surfaces, emptying of bins and cleaning of kitchen areas all go towards reducing the number of airborne bacteria and pathogens will directly impact the quality of your office air.

  • COSHH and hazardous exposure: COSHH is in place to ensure that all handles of substances and are following the right guidelines in control of hazardous substances that can have a detrimental impact on health. When the option to use biodegradable cleaning products hasn’t been chosen is it so important that your cleaning provider effectively manages the internal level of hazardous substances. These substances come in many different forms: dust, chemicals, gases, vapours and mists – the list is not exclusive to those mentioned.At Abelian we follow the guidelines set out by the COSHH training and therefore are able to successfully determine if there is any exposure risk and know what measures we can put in place to safeguard against this. Being educated with practical knowledge and understanding means all of Abelian’s cleaning team are able to guarantee internal air quality is not masked by high levels of dangerous chemicals or dust. Furthermore, the storage and usage of cleaning products is done in a way that poses no hazardous dangers to both our cleaners and our client’s employees.
  • Moisture and damp control: With poor ventilation in offices moisture and dampness can create a breeding ground for the mould, dust mites and the bacteria we’ve spoke of in the previous sections. Those with a predisposition to asthma are greatly affected but also are those with weakened immune systems and suffer with skin problems. Irritants and toxins are often by products of high levels of these unwanted additions. It doesn’t sound like the healthy nor creative office environment you want does it?Humidity can come from multiple causes, the most often being due to water leakages from pipes or exterior penetration, new built environments where internal water has yet to dry or, from condensation where ventilation is lacking. It is recommended room humidity should be between 30-50%.There are numerous cost effective solutions that can be put in place to reduce an offices risk of damp and also prevent the air becoming too dry and leaving employees with sore heads and irritable eyes.  Drip pans, air ducts and vents must not only be installed but also cleaned and emptied regularly to ensure no bacteria or mould / mildew build up occurs – keeping air quality at a peak. Opening windows merely ajar can be enough to discourage condensation requiring only a 30 minutes max to take effect. Temperature control of a room will assist in preventing dryness within the air and the irritants mentioned. When air filtration systems are used once again it is crucial that theses are maintained and cleaner periodically to prevent pollutants being re-filtrated into the room.

Find out why Quality Management System are so important!

Quality management systems is an umbrella term that labels systems used by our Area Managers and subsequent cleaning companies to manage all aspects of cleaning contracts. The systems include auditing processes, ordering of consumables, plus Time and Attendance management.

These systems are put in place to create functional flexibility within service agreements, allowing ongoing tracking to ensure accurate service delivery. Accountability creates a level of communication between the client and the cleaning company. This active participation and analysis enables flexibility in overcoming any obstacles. As well as offering an analytical measure to track processes and core targets to create customer satisfaction.

Within QMS’s, accreditation’s support the value of these strategic processes; to read about the accreditation’s Abelian has been awarded see here.

Auditing Processes

A dedicated Area Manager will be assigned to manage your site and act as a direct point of contact should you have any service questions. Their attention is focused on ensuring all cleaning operatives are fulfilling their duties to the highest possible standard. Area Managers employ spontaneous site visits to ensure our cleaners are always meeting our exacting expectations – whilst giving us a true representation of the current cleaning standards being delivered.

Audits are performed on hand held devices, which means all managers are able to perform assessments of your site. Records and scores are given based on the viewed standard and in accordance with the service agreement. If problems are identified, images and notes are recorded within the auditing file.

Progress can be tracked at each step guaranteeing a rapid response on all raised concerns. Within this we will also address areas where we see we are able to improve our services, without falling under your required standards, so you continually receive not an adequate service but one that exceeds.

Your assigned Area Manager will schedule, at your convenience, monthly cleaning reviews. These reviews aren’t typically negative – we believe continual and regular contact puts us in a position to tackle problems head on, or report back positive comments to our cleaners. As with anything, positive feedback only encourages everyone to work harder and feel valued.

Risk assessments and service reviews are able to be signed off and monitored, whilst costing’s and contract details can be requested and downloaded at any time. This allows fluidity of working between you as a client, the Area Manager and our head office; ensuring each contract has multiple touch points to guarantee no process is under-managed.

Ordering consumables is imperative to the smooth running of your site; be it toilet paper or cleaning fluid as agreed within your cleaning contract. The system allows your site manager to order various items at any point, from any location. The paper free process means document filing isn’t needed and remains environmentally conscious.

Time and Attendance Systems (TAS)

Often when we speak to prospective clients, we are told of the frustration faced when cleaners fail to turn up on time for their shift, and the lack of management in place to guarantee working hours are being completed as agreed per contract. As well as annoyance with service providers that fail to pay their cleaning operatives for overtime hours as agreed by the client. When employing a company to manage your cleaning solutions, factors associated with shift patterns and pay are not matters you as the client should be handling.

At Abelian, we implement a Time and Attendance system to overcome these mentioned issues. This allows us to track and monitor the work patterns of our operatives. The system, much like the above mentioned, is incredibly simple to install, needing only a freephone telephone number. Cleaning operatives call to sign in and out at the beginning and end of their shift. Each cleaning operative will be given a unique pin number to ensure accurate recordings of their shift patterns and locations are created.

All attendance patterns are immediately logged and made easily available to the required manager. Allowing your Area Manager to address any staffing issues in real time and activate our staff contingency plan where necessary.

Our cleaning operatives are fundamental to the success of Abelian, ensuring they are respected and are able to work safely is imperative. In the unlikely event that a problem is raised that may put our operatives in direct danger. The Time and Attendance system allows us to identify who is on site and ensure accountability for all lone and remote workers.

Adding True Value to Cleaning

There are multiple benefits to these systems be it tangible or intangible. All systems are synced with our head office records which means any documentation can be accessed at any point and downloaded by yourself or managers dealing with your cleaning contract.

Auditing process also ensure that staff and resources are highly managed for the purpose of creating cost effective cleaning solutions. All resources are maximized so that the cleaning budget you have available is spent effectively, adding true value.

As all cleaning operatives are logged within these systems, and upon registration, their records are made easily accessible. On issue of ID badges and uniforms, you will have a clear knowledge of who is working under Abelian. This visibility is crucial in the event of a cleaning operative working in secure areas or within schools. This coupled with DBs checking creates secure and safe environments for everyone.

Do you know where the dirtiest spots are in your office??

You may or may not have seen the study by Kimberley-Clark professional that looked into locating the dirtiest spots in an office. We thought it would be a good reminder for those who have, and enlightening to those that have yet to learn where these hot-spots of grime are.

Exposure to germs within the office isn’t always dangerous, however poorly sanitised rooms can lead to cross infection of viruses. We all know it’s in a company’s best interest to keep their employees both happy, and healthy.

If you were asked the question, “where are the dirtiest places in the office?”

You wouldn’t be stupid if your immediate answer was the bathroom. Or more specifically the bathroom door handles, perhaps?

However, this isn’t as accurate as you might think – which is slightly unnerving. According to the research published, there are a number of places far worse than the bathrooms and used far more regularly.

The research was carried out using swabs and samples taken from almost 5,000 surfaces in office buildings where around 3,000 employees worked. These offices were commercial, law, media and recruitment.

All swabs were tested for their concentration of ATP; an energy molecule that enables all living things to survive. Food residue, also known as organic matter, often has high concentrations of ATP molecules. This provides the perfect environment for bacteria and germs to breed and potentially lead to office viral outbreaks. The ATP concentration acts as a solid predictor for the level of bacteria or germs growing within the same area. Even if viral outbreaks don’t occur from these dirty spots, it’s still not a healthy environment for employee motivation and productivity.

Rankings for the level of dirt are as follows:

  • 100+ ATP molecules signify a wipe down is definitely required.
  • 300+ ATP molecules on a surface, it is classified as dirty and requires a more focused cleaning approach.

The study found these areas below received readings of 300 or more making them officially dirty:

  • 75% of break room sink-facet handles
  • 48% of microwave door handles
  • 27% of keyboards
  • 26% of refrigerator door handles
  • 23% of water fountain buttons
  • 21% of vending machine buttons

There were still a number of places that earned the reading of could-be-cleaner

  • 91% of break room sink-faucet handles
  • 80% microwave door handles
  • 69% keyboards
  • 69% refrigerator door handles
  • 53% of water fountain buttons
  • 51% computer mice
  • 51% desk phones
  • 48% coffee pots and dispensers
  • 43% of vending machine buttons

So the places we thought there would be no need to worry about, or didn’t even come into consideration, actually require a lot more attention. Cross contamination of bacterial and viral pathogens poses a real risk when harboring around areas like water stations and microwave handles. These stations are areas of high usage by all members of the office.

If you notice your current cleaning provider is merely wiping surfaces, or spot cleaning, perhaps reconsideration is needed? Office Cleaning isn’t just about ensuring the office looks and smells nice. It’s about effectively employing solutions that focus on all areas and surfaces within an environment. Cleaning hours allocated should be used effectively to sanitise areas that aren’t typically thought of – as we’ve seen with this study.

Area Managers that oversee, motivate and train cleaners so they are always meeting their targets is key! Looking beyond the polished glass and smell of citrus, your cleaning team needs to be going the extra mile daily, and not missing out these not-so-hard to reach areas.

Prior to signing a cleaning contract with a commercial cleaning provider be sure to have these requirements considered in the cleaning schedule! Have them documented so you know exactly when they will be tended to i.e. daily, weekly or monthly. Get to know what you’re paying for, that way you can ensure a hygienic environment is created, and water station germs will be a thing of the past!

 

In-house cleaning vs Commercial Contract Cleaning

Fact According to industry analysts

In-house cleaning is self-explanatory in that a company will directly employ their cleaning team by themselves to manage all aspects of any office cleaning service in varying sectors, or school cleaning for academic institutions.

Very often this process is seen as far superior and financially beneficial for the company in terms of time and cost savings. Obviously, with directly employing your own cleaners you have 100% control over the hourly wage you pay, and the subsequent pension schemes, holiday pay, sick leave etc. relating to just the cleaner. It would appear this is a financially beneficial system.

Trusting a commercial cleaning company to make the maximum use of an available budget, whilst ensuring you receive the highest level of cleanliness is often a fear. There have been numerous experiences, where contracts have been priced at a rate for the first year and overtime costs have increased – often due to initial under quoting to win contracts over competitors. So arguably, it is no surprise that often companies or schools are nervous about sourcing a contracted provider on this base. It is worth noting here that Abelian prides itself on creating fixed price contracts for all clients (prices will only change due to government enforced changes).

However, surprisingly it is often forgotten that actually in the long term, commercial cleaning companies and outsourcing office cleaning, or school cleaning solutions can actually be financially beneficial — as well as relieving stress for management employees.

There are a number of reasons why this fact can be substantiated for both public and private sectors including educational institutions.

 

  • In-house management of cleaning products

With in-house cleaning the company or school must go through the process of ordering cleaning equipment, and cleaning agents which can become costly. With commercial cleaning companies, they often buy in bulk or have partnerships with consumables which are then reflected in a cheaper consumable price in your contract costing. When specific cleaning products are required, or biodegradable agents are needed to reduce toxins and pollutants in the office, Commercial Cleaning companies have better access and knowledge of suitable supplies. When a contract is in place your designated Area Manager will manage all ordering, sourcing and delivering of equipment. This process removes the paperwork stress from your employees, freeing them to continue with more important work.

 

  • Finances & changes in budgets available

Cleaning budgets are often being pressured to become more economic and free cash flow. With in-house cleaning, if at any point cleaning hours need to be reduced or layoffs occur. Companies are left dealing with pay outs, or cutting costs so much that they are appropriately understaffed for the cleaning job at hand.

Out sourcing cleaning means the service contractors will have to handle this accordingly whilst remaining contractually obliged, to ensure the cleaning service they deliver doesn’t fall below standards. Ultimately this will be creating a stress free scenario for Facility Managers, with added security that their premise will remain a clean environment, as per the contract agreement. In the event of high levels of staff turnover, or cleaners failing to turn up for their shifts, cleaning companies have reactive staff procedures in place so no detrimental effect is felt by your facility.

 

  • Cleaning isn’t the only service

Cleaning doesn’t just cover the wiping of surfaces, mopping and cleaning of toilets. There is the need for Carpet & Hard Floor Deep CleaningFloor Maintenance, Window Cleaning and Management of Waste Disposal. When in-house cleaners are used there may be the perception that cleaning costs are kept low due to internal sourcing.

However, when it comes to out sourcing the other mentioned services, management are required to contact, contract and manage these service providers to ensure the jobs are being carried out on time and when required. Each contract cost rapidly adds up, when in-fact seeking a Commercial Cleaning provider that satisfies all of these needs under one contract umbrella, works out not only to be more cost effective, but also removes the often time consuming and frustrating management process in orchestrating these processes. Why deal with multiple contact points when you can rely solely on one?

 

  • Security & safeguarding your premises.

Security rightly so is often an important factor that is benefited from using in-house cleaning, particularly when it comes to schools or offices where secure information is accessible, or overheard. In-house allows selective criteria and creates a sense of trust in those employees.

Whereas without sourcing there may be concern that safety and security hasn’t been considered by a cleaning contractor. At Abelian, we safeguard secure areas by ensuring DBS checks are carried out on all of our cleaning operatives to ensure only the safest people have access to secure areas, where information or vulnerable people are. The use of ID badges and vetting processes maximises trust with our clients in all sectors.

 

  • Training, training & more training.

As I mentioned before, ensuring a hygienic and clean environment is maintained continuously, especially in areas of high footfall requires skill and concentration. The use of machinery and cleaning agents needs on-going training, to ensure cleaners are keeping up to date with the innovative advances in the industry.

If you’re in-house, all training is left up to the Facility Manager or the appropriate person in charge – it may even mean they require training themselves. This is not only time consuming, but is also a costly procedure, and comes with added frustration. As you have probably already guessed it, this is another benefit to outsourcing cleaning expertise. It is the contractor’s duty to ensure all cleaning operatives are trained, and equipped with the latest knowledge to effectively carry out their job in a timely manner.

Ensuring you environment is not only clean, but properly disinfected is so important for infection risks. If cleaning agents are used that contain chemicals, the storage and mixing of these is paramount to internal safety of everyone within the space – poorly trained cleaners risk harming both themselves and those around them. Companies that have been awarded the Certification ISO 9001 have so for their ongoing quality assurance. Accreditations like this help managers to determine who the reputable cleaning companies within the market are.