COVID-19 has made the public’s expectations for restroom cleanliness paramount. However, according to the 2021 CMM In-House/Facility Management Survey, restrooms are the most problematic areas to clean and maintain in a building. As they are high-traffic areas with the largest germ count, cleaning and maintaining restrooms should be a priority for most building managers.
As public spaces reopen and occupancy restrictions relax across the country, private and public facilities managers (FM) face rising sanitation expectations from the public. According to the 2021 CMM survey, more than 70% of people felt unsafe using a public restroom during COVID-19 due to hygiene concerns. However, another 80% say they expect a cleaner environment now more than ever.
While sanitization practices are not predicted to continue at the same level as at the height of the pandemic, facilities managers should be prepared for some trends to linger. At the very least, they will need to implement stringent sanitization controls to reopen their restroom doors and restore public confidence.
FMs should consider adopting some technological and operational changes to provide building occupants with cleaner bathrooms. These include:
Of course, much of this is easier said than done. Your staff and protocols are dictated by company regulations, funding parameters, and decisions made by upper management. Therefore, managing public restrooms during the pandemic and beyond will require some mindset shifts.
While there are operational considerations, such as sanitization schedules and the types of supplies, first, you should research devices that can improve the cleanliness of your space.
Portable air purifiers cycle air through the device to clean air in a room. Since public restrooms usually have less square footage than other areas, simply adding an air purifier to the bathroom can drastically reduce the number of pathogens, viruses, and bacteria in the air. These air-purifying devices have more than one cleaning technology, can clean large and small areas alike, and have a higher air exchange rate per hour. Here are some devices to consider:
Revolutionary sanitization technology can replace personnel and cleaning staff to save you additional staffing costs, produce a cleaner environment, and reduce the health risk to existing staff.
Technology like the UVD Robot Model C, a fully autonomous robot that disinfects large areas, can be programmed to cycle through a natural sanitization schedule every night, leaving your restroom clean in the morning. It uses UV-C radiation technology for cleaner air and surfaces.
Smart Dispense Pro is another ideal product for your public restroom. This technology is a high-capacity hand sanitization system that connects to the Internet of Things (IoT) for COVID tracking and sanitization. By tapping into the cloud, you can use the Smart Dispense Pro to track anyone who comes into contact with the area.
The device has cloud connectivity, a badge scanner, and identity management to track who has been in the room, which is helpful in the event of a COVID outbreak. It also comes with temperature tracking, informing you if any staff, government workers, or public visitors have an elevated temperature related to COVID infection.
Air cleaning through HVAC induct requires management buy-in as improvements to the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system must be made. However, HVAC inducts with ActivePure technology can increase the overall efficiency of your central air system, resulting in much cleaner air. Induct can provide streamlined cleaning and sanitization, quickly and effectively reducing the amount of airborne and surface contaminants. It also can contribute to long-term energy and cost savings aligned with the sustainable building model.
There is also government funding available for implementing the HVAC Induct Air Purifier systems, which might offset the initial expense of the upgrade.
As an FM working with public works and sanitization, you may find that implementing a strict hygiene and sanitation schedule in a public restroom is challenging, especially given that many of the working parts are not under your control. If this is the case, you will want to coordinate with your higher-ups to get a sense of feasible project scope. Since sanitization is a high priority in all public spaces right now, you might find your managers have more enthusiasm (and budget) than normal for restroom sanitization improvements.
Given people’s concerns about public sanitation, this could be a good time to recommend larger-budget, long-term changes to sanitizing your public and workplace restrooms. Present an executive proposal to your budget control committee or head office that outlines the necessary short-term reasons, such as COVID-19, for implementing technology in building restrooms and the long-term cost savings and environmental impact.
Your company’s strategy for implementing sanitization might already exist since COVID has been lingering for more than a year. However, as an FM, you should embrace strategic approaches to bathroom design, sanitization improvements, and technological enhancements. Emphasize a layered, actionable approach to reopening your restroom:
In managing your staff during the pandemic, seek feedback from occupants and address issues using a top-down approach.
Surveys and experts show clear trends for embracing technology and for ongoing restroom maintenance. Not only are these trends COVID specific, but they were also on the rise before COVID. Technology will not only help your team stay ahead of constant shifts in the restroom cleanliness requirements, but it will also keep users healthier and create a more positive work environment.
Technology like smart screens that display cycling messaging can be regularly updated to understand that the restroom is following CDC guidelines. They explain the guidelines and provide helpful information on the state of cleanliness (like the time of the last wipe down).
There are other forms of bathroom technology that you should consider embracing, not just for sanitation purposes but also for the sustainability of your business:
Reminders for regular maintenance tasks, such as cleaning garbage cans that harbor bacteria, Salmonella, and E.coli, can be set through bathroom technology, innovative technology, or mobile devices.
Touchless devices remain a significant trend this year, and so far, we have seen no major negative hurdles to their implementation. Even once COVID has ended, these devices will continue to be helpful. While they might have a more considerable up-front expense, they provide long-term cost savings and ecological benefits. Some of the popular touchless devices include:
Touchless hand dryers reduce the need for paper towels, which may not decompose completely and whose production is harmful to the environment. Touchless hand dryers also reduce the spread of germs that latch onto the paper towels. Staff no longer need to come in to dispose of the paper towel trash regularly, but they should clean the area below the hand dryer so that germs do not spread or grow on the floor.
Touchless soap dispensers help provide anti-bacterial soap to sterilize hands, but soap dispensers can still spread disease and viruses. Therefore, if you get a touchless soap dispenser, contaminated and dirty hands will no longer be touching the soap dispenser and spreading infection.
Touchless hand-washing faucets: Touchless and automated hand-washing faucets have substantial environmental impacts. They can start water flow when the motion sensor detects movement and stop it when the movement ends, saving your company thousands of dollars each year to water loss.
Touchless doors can reduce the need for people to touch the door to open. They can also be used for handicap and accessibility purposes, providing a more user-friendly environment.
A touchless toilet eliminates the handle as another touchpoint for germs and bacteria growth.
Each of the items mentioned above reduces the number of surfaces that people come in contact with (and in turn contaminate) every time someone enters your restroom. On top of that, the devices make the bathroom safer, improve cleaning staff productivity, lower the risk of germ spread, offer peace of mind, and lower product consumption and waste.
Contact us today, and we can recommend the right technology to help clean and maintain your public restroom.
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