Sustainable hygiene in the workplace
After 2020, even if the world ever returns to normal, office life will never be quite the same as before. Working from home, for example, is a concept that we collectively will deal with differently. Hygiene is also such a topic. Because of everything that has happened in 2020, we will be more conscious about both our personal hygiene and a hygienic working climate for years to come. At the same time, we are working towards a more sustainable, cleaner future. But what does that look like, sustainable hygiene in the workplace?
Corona now and later
Of course, the corona outbreak has a deep impact on how hygiene is handled in general. Several government measures – such as the 'we wash our hands' – have a direct impact on how personal hygiene should be handled in the workplace or in the office.
Quite apart from the advice to wash a lot of hands, many (especially larger) retail chains have started to proactively offer disinfectant hand gels to customers and employees are even obliged to use them. high quality face masks, cheap latex gloves, the use of paper handkerchiefs and sneezing in the elbow complete a world view in which hygiene measures are in fact continuously consciously used. That awareness does not suddenly cease to exist as soon as everyone is vaccinated or if the virus suddenly no longer exists. Hygiene is on everyone's radar and such an effect can be felt in the long term.
Also important for the long term is the way in which the government deals with the economic consequences of the corona crisis. In addition to all kinds of support and measures, the Dutch government chooses to invest extra in sustainability and a green future. Investments in sustainable projects are not only financial injections that the ailing business community yearns for, but also ensure that other goals are achieved, despite the corona crisis. Think of the climate objectives that have been agreed in a European context.
Sustainability: the theme for facility managers in 2021
It is therefore not surprising that in 2021 sustainability is pre-eminently the theme for facility managers is on the agenda. Never before has sustainability been considered so urgent as it is now.
Over the years, sustainability has grown into a catch-all term that includes numerous initiatives and principles. In principle, a sustainable policy means that a policy can be implemented indefinitely without causing significant damage to the environment or health anywhere in the chain. From a facility management perspective, sustainability comes down to the realization that it is becoming increasingly important to have a good overview of which raw materials go into a building and what comes out afterwards.
Despite the fact that sustainability has conquered an unprecedented high place on the agenda of facility managers, strangely enough, many companies lack a solid sustainability policy. When asked, every company will indicate that it considers sustainability to be important, but the concrete translation of that conviction is often absent. And that while sustainable facility management can be approached from different angles. We discuss three.
First of all, cleaning – there we have that hygiene again. It's no surprise that a clean workplace is positive for the productivity of the people who have to work there. However, sustainable cleaning starts with preventing unnecessary cleaning and maintenance work. That means: lots of airing, clear rules (such as: do not eat behind desks) and proactively offer means to promote personal hygiene (hand gel, soap, refreshment wipes).
Of course, cleaning will always have to be done, and that should be done with the right means. Many facilities managers opt for resources with the best price/quality ratio or resources that are easiest to obtain from suppliers. From a sustainability point of view, however, it is best to opt for the best quality product. The less cleaning agent is needed, the better it is in terms of sustainability.
The product must of course be biodegradable. This applies not only to cleaning products, but also to detergents that are used in the canteen. Finally, the products must be friendly to humans and animals, in order to prevent health problems.
Do you hire a cleaning company to perform periodic cleaning work? Then don't let a party from Utrecht clean your building in The Hague, but choose you cleaning company The Hague as place of origin. So choose a local company, or a company with multiple branches throughout the country. This way you avoid unnecessary kilometers on the highway.
Sustainable energy policy
Energy consumption is of course a fundamental part of any sustainability policy. Energy label C will therefore become mandatory from 2021 for all office buildings from 100 m2. Every facility manager knows that the larger an office building or commercial space, the greater the chance that parts of the building will not be used for large parts of the week. By mapping out when which parts of the building are used, and how many people are present in the building at set times, you can develop a well-considered energy policy.
For example, on quiet days or parts of the day, have people work closer together instead of scattered throughout the building. This way you don't have to heat, cool or illuminate empty floors. Instead of time switches, you can also work on such floors with motion sensors, which ensure that energy is only used if movement is also registered on the work floor. Nobody present? Then no light, no air conditioning and no heating.
By purchasing lighting, heating and air conditioning solutions from parties that score well in the field of sustainability, you assure yourself of products that you can use in a responsible manner. Oh, and did you know that a lot of greenery in a department improves air quality? For example, people will be less inclined to open windows and leave the heating on in the meantime. Your climate installation can then do its job undisturbed and therefore energy-efficient.
Sustainable working climate
It has already been mentioned: sustainability in combination with facility management often revolves around the question of which substances enter a building and which come out again. A sensible purchasing policy and a well-considered waste policy are therefore indispensable.
Separating waste at source sounds logical, but in many office buildings and commercial spaces it happens surprisingly little. The reason? Disposing of an extra waste stream costs money. It is hard to imagine, but countless companies are not yet separating plastic in the workplace in 2020. These are no-brainers for any company that seriously wants to get started with sustainable facility management.
Disposing of waste properly separated is one thing, but preventing waste is of course better. A good purchasing policy can contribute to this. We often come across them: canteens full of sandwiches that are all wrapped in paper or plastic (or both…). Handy, because what doesn't work can be put in the fridge and will be back on the shelf tomorrow. But the amount of waste that is released during this type of practice is not good. Thinking carefully about how you purchase your products and at which points waste is released, therefore saves a sip on a drink. Always remember: green waste is a lot less bad than gray or plastic waste!
Of course, all such initiatives are not free. Facility managers who seriously want to get started with sustainability in business premises will incur costs. Enough companies will soon look for ways to save money, at the expense of sustainable solutions. That is the dilemma that many facility managers find themselves in. However, the higher sustainability is placed on the agenda, the more difficult it becomes to slaughter initiatives on the altar of cost savings.