Well-maintained work environments: making all the difference

Well-maintained work environments: making all the difference

The working environment is one of the most crucial factors that influences the level of satisfaction as well as motivation of employees. According to FM Solutions, a subsidiary company of the AFMS Group, research studies have shown that there is a clear connection between safe, hygienic and orderly work environments and the overall happiness of employees.

“The operational efficiency, safety and hygiene within organised work environments are found to have an equal influence on job satisfaction as factors such as technology and office machinery,” says Lydia Hendricks, business development director at FM Solutions (FMS). Since opening its doors in 2002, FMS has been delivering customised facilities management services to clients operating in various industries.

The FMS teams have been using the opportunity afforded to them as a result of lockdown regulations and reduced numbers of employees at offices to perform much-needed maintenance and repair jobs.

“In order to achieve social distancing and limit congestion at the workplace,” says Hendricks, “businesses and other institutions have been minimising the number of employees on site by introducing staff rotation, staggered working hours, shift systems, remote working arrangements or similar measures. Many employees with health concerns are also still working from home. Having fewer people in the office than usual gives us the ideal opportunity to do repairs and maintenance jobs without causing major disruptions to their day-to-day activities.”

Some of the important maintenance tasks they recommend include:

Ensure you remain Covid-19 ready and compliant

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for workplaces to be thoroughly cleaned and sanitised and there is no doubt that this will continue to be at the top of the agenda for the foreseeable future. Hendricks stresses that it is vital for companies to ensure that they remain compliant with regulations in order to avoid a second wave of infections.

“Our handyman and FM services integrate seamlessly with our Occupational Health and Safety offering to deliver expert guidance in this regard. We help prepare the workplace by designing an ergonomic office set-up that also ensures adequate social distancing, sanitation stations, quarantine facilities and the use of necessary markings. In addition, we take over the responsibility for disinfecting and regular deep-cleanings to protect the workers.”

Reduce the impact of load shedding and reduce electricity consumption

South Africans have experienced the return of load shedding recently as the demand for electricity increased. In order to minimise the disruption that these power cuts have on businesses and prepare for the expected price hike in electricity costs, FMS suggests taking certain proactive steps.

“Small actions taken now could end up saving companies a lot of money and frustration in the long run. Things like changing lightbulbs and upgrading to low-energy LED bulbs, implementing a remote meter reading or conducting electricity checks are important steps that should be taken while disruption will be kept to a minimum. Likewise, be sure to check and repair your generator to ensure it is in working order when load shedding does return or use this time to change over to solar energy,” Hendricks suggests.

Cleaning the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system

An HVAC system keeps the office environment comfortable and ventilated with clean air and has become the required industry standard for construction of new buildings. Like any other installation, however, it requires regular maintenance and care to ensure reliability and ultimately the health and safety of the occupants in the building.

“With summer on its way, now is a good time to clean or upgrade your HVAC system. If it is not regularly maintained, performance will start to slip and eventually the entire system will fail,” Hendricks warns. She recommends that HVAC systems be visually inspected by a professional to ensure that all filters, blowers, moving parts, condensing units and other elements are working well and are free of dust and debris. There must be no corrosive damage to the internal systems, the thermostat settings must be checked and the condensate drained, as excess moisture can cause problems like mould, water damage, high levels of humidity in the property, uneven temperature regulation, bacteria, and compromised air quality.

Inspect and repair or replace worn flooring

Each year, as many as 8 500 accidents in the workplace are caused by “slips and trips”. This equates to approximately 37% of all accidents. Apart from costing the economy over R12,5 billion a year, a further R8,5 billion is lost annually by employers due to lost production.

“It is important for companies to regularly inspect their floors for any sign of wear and tear and to replace or repair damaged floors as soon as possible. Most countries (including South Africa) have begun introducing legislation that requires public floors to comply with fixed safety regulations,” Hendricks says.

“Replacing office floors can be very disruptive to staff members as the entire space needs to be cleared and could be out of use for several days. The smell of glues, solvents or cleaning chemicals might also irritate certain people and make it difficult for them to work. For this reason, it is prudent to consider using this time to invest in new floors or conduct a proper, deep-cleaning of office carpets,” she suggests.

Conclusion

There are many hidden dangers in buildings and office spaces that need to be addressed to ensure that the working environment is safe, healthy and well maintained.

“It is the responsibility of employers and managers to ensure they do not put the health and safety of their personnel or visitors at risk by failing to properly maintain their fixed assets. We have experienced how orderly work environments improve the overall happiness and productivity of employees. For this reason, we are passionate about creating productive office environments that are not only comfortable to work in, but also end up saving our clients time and money by avoiding downtime and costly repairs,” Hendricks concludes.

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