As organizations navigate this challenging period of recovery, many facility managers are examining how to pivot their maintenance programs. While it is still important to reduce the spread of harmful pathogens through strategic cleaning and disinfecting, now is an ideal time to examine programs that may have been ignored or deemphasized at the height of the pandemic in favor of intense cleaning and disinfecting activities. These programs include important cleaning programs essential to preserving valuable infrastructure investments in facilities, including:
- Floor Care
- Carpet Cleaning
- Parking Lot Maintenance
- High Dusting of Exposed Ductwork
While asset preservation programs have always been critical to facility maintenance programs, now is the right time to pivot to these activities as cleaning and maintenance programs are rebalanced during the transition to the “Next Normal”. Taking these steps builds trust with customers and employees while also adding to the overall healthy operations of a facility.
Extending Asset Lifespan
The main goal of asset preservation has traditionally been to extend the service lifespan of areas like floors, carpets, parking lots, and HVAC systems.
For example, carpets and floors that appear to be clean can quickly degrade without regular and professional maintenance. For example, the average lifespan of commercial-grade carpeting ranges from 12-15 years. Taking into account the amount of foot traffic or quality and type of carpet fiber, KBS experts have found that quarterly care protocols can maintain optimal appearance and meet or exceed their range of service.
Similarly, regular floor maintenance keeps them looking better for longer. After assessing individual use instances, a regular protocol of quarterly, biannual, or annual stripping and buffing can extend their lifespan, prevent permanent damage, and improve their overall appearance. Minor fixes in parking lots or the regular removal of weeds can defer more expensive repairs and significantly improve appearance.
Floors, carpets, and parking lots may have seen lighter use throughout COVID and less maintenance for some businesses. For essential businesses that have been open and in operation the entire time, or regions where there have been fewer restrictions, there has been more sustained activity. In either case, deferred maintenance through this period can only last so long before permanent damage can occur.
Building Employee and Consumer Trust
Asset protection is always a sound strategy, but there is another reason to implement these programs today: the change in employee and customer expectations around the operational health of facilities. Because of COVID, people have a heightened awareness and sensitivity to cleaning. While strategic cleaning and disinfecting programs should still be employed, people will also evaluate facilities based on appearance. Employees and customers are now educated on air quality and filtration systems, and cleaning and disinfection practices. Dirty, dusty, or worn-down facilities leave the impression of a building that isn’t managed well, including the overall safety of the building. These perceptions can have a large impact on customer and employee satisfaction and retention.
For example, only 25% of office workers are looking forward to returning full-time on-site, according to a recent Harris Poll. Amidst the challenges facing HR professionals, employees pulling into well-maintained parking lots and working from spaces with clean floors should not be among them.
Dr. Marcia Mogelonsky of global market research leader Mintel predicts that in-store shoppers “will expect more overt demonstrations of hygiene.” Polished floors and clean carpets to greet their literal foot traffic can be a welcome sign that a store is open for business, safe to enter, and meets a higher expectation for cleaning.
Maintaining Healthier Interior Environments
High dusting of HVAC vents and air intakes is another important asset preservation measure that not only helps extend the life of expensive HVAC systems. But there’s another reason why this particular cleaning measure is important today: airflow.
Optimized and efficient HVAC systems and superior airflow are top-of-mind due to COVID-19 guidance issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other global agencies. The regular high dusting of these areas by specialized teams with the proper equipment ensures a healthier space for employees and customers alike. While most HVAC professionals will offer exterior duct cleaning services for an additional fee, our nationwide clients have found that it’s both more cost-effective and comprehensive to rely on a partner like KBS. It’s more cost-effective due to the high fees charged by HVAC professionals and more comprehensive as our teams go beyond exterior ductwork cleaning and service all of the additional high-up assets.
Preservation Means Healthy Operations
During the recovery, asset preservation should be part of an overall pivot to long-term healthy operations. Facility managers need to implement maintenance programs to account for the higher expectation of cleaning while also moving toward more sustained programs that consider the needs of a facility over months, years, and even decades. Implementing asset preservation into a facility maintenance program is a way to address both short and long terms needs for healthy operations.