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Maintaining a cleanliness regime

12 January 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly put a renewed focus on hygiene and cleanliness in spaces that are used by a number of people, such as commercial offices, says Donald Sutcliffe.

KEEPING WORKPLACES clean and well maintained is now a top priority for building owners. While carpet tiles provide a great flooring solution for offices, they need to be cleaned effectively to not only make sure they are hygienic, but also to maximise their lifespan when it comes to appearance and performance.

Offering the right support and training for in-house maintenance teams and taking a more bespoke approach can help get the best out of any flooring installation.

Getting the right routine
Working with your customers to create an effective cleaning routine isn’t only essential for long-lasting product performance, it’s now a requirement when it comes to meeting health and safety standards.

In the past it might have been enough to make sure surfaces were vacuumed, swept or mopped based on foot traffic or dirt, daily cleaning is now expected in many settings. For carpeted areas, this means thorough cleaning using a vacuum along with regular spot cleaning and stain treatment.

Even with the right daily maintenance, flooring can in time become dulled owing to an accumulation of dirt, stains and damage that regular cleaning cannot tackle. This means incorporating interim and restorative cleaning methods into maintenance routines is vital. This includes methods such as hot water extraction which is effective in removing soil and residue from carpeting.

Other options include encapsulation, a quick and easy approach which involves spraying ‘crystals’ onto the floor and brushing them into the carpet. The crystals then encapsulate the dirt. The solution evaporates quickly, after which the crystals are easily removed during daily vacuuming. With a short drying time this means the office can be put back in use shortly after cleaning the flooring.

Dry extraction is another approach which causes relatively little disruption. The first step is to lift the pile of the carpet or vacuum it, then spray the surface with a suitable traffic-lane cleaner. You then spread the dry compound onto the floor and gently brush it. After 30 minutes the dirt and particles can be vacuumed up.

Keeping dirt out

Studies show 80% of soil entering a building is walked in through the front door. This build-up of dirt can not only bring in unwanted germs from the outside, it can also lead to increased maintenance costs for your customer and can reduce the lifetime of the carpet.

For contractors this means returning to a project to replace damaged products rather than being able to focus on new installations. An effective barrier matting system such as Interface’s Barricade solution placed in entrance areas can stop more than 90% of this dirt going any further. This also helps minimise damage to the floor surface created by dirt, abrasive material and moisture.

We’d recommend a minimum of 3-5m of barrier matting placed at the point of entry based on volume and level of traffic flow. The barrier mats can then be vacuumed daily and even replaced regularly to prevent the build-up of soil which would make them ineffective at keeping dirt out.

At Interface, our is aim is to maximise the life and performance of the flooring you’ve fitted, from carpet tile to LVT and rubber flooring.

At a time when hygiene is now a more important part of our lives than ever before it’s vital you support your customers to help implement effective cleaning and maintenance strategies.

We also understand that every flooring project is different, and this is why we’ve created detailed maintenance guides to provide your customers with helpful advice on approved maintenance techniques and solutions for all flooring types.

Wellbeing through biophilic design

Our world is rapidly changing. We are seeing growing cultural unrest, increased stress, and heightened anxiety seemingly at every turn. In a COVID-19 world, this increased stress feels more present than ever.

As we consider options to return to public spaces, it is paramount for us to incorporate health and wellbeing as ultimate drivers. The obvious focus in this instance is on minimizing contact and supporting respiratory health. It is also paramount that we support each other by utilizing interventions that foster our emotional wellbeing.

With the incorporation of seperating strategies such as social distancing, it becomes more essential than ever to foster a sense of security and support people’s holistic wellbeing - regardless of project scope.

One research-rooted approach supporting these needs resides within the field of biophilic design. As we are all experiencing an immense state of flux, it is paramount that we integrate the benefits of our natural environments into our built ones.

As Sonja Bochart, an interior designer, leading biophilic design consultant at Lens Strategy, and principal at Shepley Bulfinch asserted: "This is a critical time and opportunity to consider even the simplest gestures and the power of nature to induce as sense of calm for people within our buildings.

"In recent months, many have reconnected to nature - in our gardens, streetscapes and homes. We have reconnected with our own love of life. If we bring people back to environments that are not that - to ones that lack comfort, security and a focus on wellbeing—then we are missing out on a powerful opportunity to support the best in our clients, when they need it most.”

It’s essential that we begin the conversation of incorporating biophilia into our project process and a collaborative, inclusive and integrative approach is essential for overall success.

Sonja Bochart continued: "This process is most powerful when it involves diverse stakeholders from all areas of the project, ranging from the owner to the design team to the end-user and community members. When done most successfully, the collaborative approach begins early in the project visioning and continues throughout the entire project.”

For example, a biophilic design framework embedded into the existing project process from programming to post-occupancy can include:

  • Conversations with diverse members throughout a project seeking to identify the essence of the sense of place
  • Engagement with the diverse members of community surrounding the project site
  • Virtual or on-site biophilic design co-creative workshop(s)
  • Inquisitive engagement with the project site to understand and honor its cultural and historical significance
  • Collaborative design sessions integrating biophilic design involving diverse team and community members
  • Engagement approaches such as surveys inviting broader stakeholder insights throughout the process
  • Transparent and open communication of how the key insights gleaned from engagement strategies were drivers for the design solution throughout the project.

The specific framework may vary to support the unique needs of the project and client. One thing remains consistent: When most successfully embedded, biophilic design moves far beyond the application of vegetation and natural materials and instead seeks to capture the essence and spirit of the project’s people and place.

Donald Sutcliffe is site services manager at Interface.

For further information, visit https://www.interface.com/EU/en-GB/about/modular-system/Maintenance-en_GB or contact site.services@interface.com