Woosh Washrooms

The BLooprint – The Facilities Manager’s Guide To Effective Washroom Management

Today marks the launch of our landmark guide for the facilities management industry.

As you may have guessed, this document, which will be the first edition of a series we’ve called the ‘BLooprint’, is all about washroom management – how it’s done, why it matters, and what the experts think. The premise of the BLooprint is simple: it looks to equip FMs with the knowledge they need in order to manage and maintain truly outstanding washrooms.

So, why have we written this? Having engaged with notable industry figures like Martin Pickard, Beth Goodyear and Liz Kentish, we found that there was a gap in knowledge that needed filling. These three contributors showed us that a go-to guide would be ideal for FMs looking to raise the standard of their facilities, especially for those who are new to the profession and unsure of best practice.

As conversations with the three contributors progressed, it became clear that washrooms are an often overlooked yet critically important aspect of an FM’s remit, with little direction or advice out there in the public domain. This is ultimately why we have started the BLooprint series. We believe this edition will provide FM professionals with the final word on how to achieve washroom excellence.

Granted, there are bigger things in life than washrooms and it should be a given that they are properly cared for. All too often, however, building users are let down and have to put up with less than satisfactory facilities. This needs to change.  

Let’s put this in perspective. The typical office worker pops to the loo around three to four times a day. For an average-sized facility, that’s over 1.1 million complaint opportunities per year – and that’s leaving aside other visitors and important guests. What if instead these visits were opportunities to leave a positive impact? With edition one of the BLooprint series to hand, this becomes a far more realistic target. It gives readers the advice they need to fundamentally change how their washrooms are managed, dramatically increasing the chances of turning a potentially bad impression into a wholly positive one.

Research has found that a bad washroom experience has a profoundly negative impact on the perception of an organisation, with visitors being far less likely to spend time or money with a company that has a poorly maintained building and facilities. “Toilets are a touchstone of building,” says FM ‘guru’ Martin Pickard, “if you want to know whether a building is being cared for or not, go in the loo, and you can just tell whether somebody’s got their handle of this place and are looking after it properly.”

It’s not just reputational damage that results from poor washrooms, though. Consider the financial impact that it can also have. In 2016 alone, there were an estimated 137 million working days lost due to sickness or injury – and that’s just the UK. As Pickard again goes on to highlight the “obvious yet decidedly ignored connection between washroom hygiene and a company’s profit margins.”

Management is one thing; effective management is another. We recognise the FM industry’s tendency to prefer data and ‘hard facts’, which is why there’s a quantitative approach to accompany the opinions of our FM luminaries. Taking on board both the qualitative and the quantitative approaches, readers will be able to build a clearer picture of how a washroom functions, how it impacts an organisation, and what needs to be done to see it sparkle all year round.

Winter Washroom Management

For many, businesses and landlords, winter is often the most challenging season and none more so than for those who are tasked with looking after built assets. Washrooms in particular face the most strain during colder and wetter months, with the increased incidence of cold and flu making them hot (or should that be cold?) beds for the spread germs and bacteria. Heavier rain, ice and dampness also create the perfect conditions for mould and other nasties to spread if facilities are not managed effectively.

It’s not just the spread of bacteria, however, that cause issues for washrooms during winter periods. Heavy rains also allow floors to become sodden trip hazards, and visitors’ footwear can bring in all kinds of debris from the road, especially rock salt that is used in the evenings to reduce the spread of ice on roads and pavements. Without careful maintenance of a washroom facility during winter, organisations can quickly find themselves with a damaged – and not to mention highly dangerous environment to contend with.

Increased humidity and standing water brought in during winter periods can also lead to unpleasant odours in the washroom. For businesses that are regularly bringing in clients and other important people to their offices, this kind of scenario can, as research shows, really put people off an organisation. As our blog on Air Fresheners discussed, it’s a first impression that can be incredibly difficult to change.  

So, what can be done? Luckily, with the right knowledge and understanding all these winter challenges can be solved. Our previous blog on cold and flu season equips organisations with the knowledge they need to fight back against common viruses and bacteria found in bathroom environments (which typically peak during colder weather). Soap dispensers, sanitisers, correct cleaning chemicals, hand towels vs. paper towels – all this and more can be found in the first edition of the BLooprint which is due to be released mid-February.

As for reducing debris and standing water within the washroom environment, it’s often more than simply running a mop over the floor throughout the day. Some of the best equipped washrooms now have specially designed textile and non-textile matting placed at entrances and exits to keep foreign objects out of the bathroom, helping to reduce damage on the flooring and, most importantly, keep the environment more hygienic.

Finally, keeping a washroom smelling fresh and pleasant during winter need not be an added hassle. As our previous blog on air fresheners showed, there are now a range of air care options available to businesses at different price points that not only keep restrooms smelling fragrant but also help to elevate the standard of an organisation’s built assets.

The ‘BLooprint’ – our landmark document for effective washroom management – will show that washrooms are often considered the touchstone of a building, prefacing the entire building experience for visitors. FM ‘guru’ Martin Pickard, a self-confessed toilet obsessive, regards the washroom as the single place which indicates whether or not an organisation has its affairs in order. Of course, getting a washroom clean is one thing; putting a strategy in place, especially during winter months, is another. This is why we’ve created the BLooprint. It gives readers a handy reference for everything washroom management, allowing facilities to shine no matter the weather.

Look out for the ‘BLooprint – Edition 1 The Facilities Manager’s Guide To Effective Washroom Management.’ Chat to one of our Wooshologists if you’d like to get your eyes on a copy today.

If you’d like more advice on best practice during the colder months and the management of your washroom facilities, speak to a Wooshologist on 0203 876 5616 or email hello@wooshwashrooms.com

Flu season… An expensive season for some businesses.

Autumn and winter signals many things: the changing of the seasons, leaves falling off the trees, receding daylight and, of course, Christmas. But the long cold nights also bring with them an increased incidence of cold and flu. Indeed, for many, the move from autumn into winter marks the beginning of ‘cold and flu season’.

Public washrooms are often considered a main offender in the spread of cold and flu. It’s hardly surprising when you consider just how many people use these facilities day to day. They are often cramped, poorly ventilated rooms with little in the way of infection prevention. Thousands of people breath in the same air and make use of the same fixtures – toilet roll holders, sinks, soaps, towels, taps and so on. It seems like only a matter of time before a visitor picks up something. 

According to the Centre for Economic and Business Research, absences from work equate to losses of around £18bn in the UK every single year – and that number looks sets to rise to a staggering £26bn by 2030. 

While the common cold and influenza virus only make up a portion of that figure – minor illnesses accounted for 24.8% of all sickness absences in 2016 – the numbers still demonstrate a need for diligence from both individuals and the people who manage public restrooms.

Cold and flu viruses are mainly spread via coughs and sneezes. Poorly cleaned surfaces also pose a risk, especially when an infected person touches something and hasn’t washed their hands thoroughly. Colds usually go away by the themselves, but flu can be much more serious and is thought to result in the deaths of around 500,000 people worldwide each year. 

Because these viruses are mutating all the time, it’s almost impossible for some to immunise people fully. Vaccines help those that are most vulnerable, but no inoculation is comprehensive to guarantee full protection.

Research has shown that viruses can survive on surfaces for up to 24 hours. This means a person who coughs or splutters in the washroom is highly likely to pass on their illness to another visitor. And, of course, the more people that use a washroom, the more likely it is that an infection will spread. Somewhat alarmingly, medical literature has also revealed that germs spread through the air via hand dryers and toilet flushes. 

Unsurprisingly, in this study bacteria were found in much higher quantities within public washroom environments, with sinks and handles proving the worst offenders. Human immune systems are very good at combating the worst of these nasties but, as Dr Nuala O Connor, GP says “Washing your hands is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself and others from getting sick with vomiting, diarrhoea, coughs, colds, sore throat, flu, in fact almost all infections.”

Thorough hand washing is, and always will be, the first line of defence for fighting cold and flu. There are, however, many things that washroom management provider can do to join the fight. Beyond meticulous and well managed cleaning rotas, owners can install automatic systems to reduce the need for individuals to touch surfaces. 

Enclosed dispensers will also eliminate having to fumble around in search of consumables. Hand hygiene facilities should be made widely available to eliminate infection at source.  

Get in touch with us to see how else we can help turn the tide against cold and flu in your workplace. Or take a look at our range of hygiene products and dispensing solutions here.

Carpets for the environmentally conscious office…

Landlords looking to up the value of their commercial properties should pay close attention to the green factor when choosing an eco-friendly carpet for their offices.

‘Eco-friendly’ is on everyone’s lips these days. Fierce competition among designers and manufacturers has placed carpet design in the forefront of sustainable flooring innovations. Whether it be area rugs, wall-to-wall installations or fully customizable carpet tiles, carpet manufacturers in the UK are putting an emphasis on recycling and natural materials with limited environmental impact, and the beneficiaries of this green endeavor don’t stop at the planet.

Landlords and property agents looking to up the value of their commercial properties and attract carbon-conscious tenants should pay close attention to the green factor when choosing a carpet for their offices.

 

What to look for in an eco-friendly carpet?

 

The most environmentally friendly carpets are made from natural, renewable fibres; this includes organic wool and cotton, jute, bamboo, sisal, seagrass and coir. That being said, looking at the ‘made of’ list doesn’t guarantee a 100% eco-friendly carpet. Indeed, some carpets have been treated with insect and flame repellents that will cause some of the worst (dangerously invisible) off-gassings.

These off-gassings usually come from the carpet backing, so be sure to look for backings that have been sewn or glued using non-toxic adhesives low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs.) Some of the best carpet backings or pads are made from non-synthetic latex, camel hair felt, or untreated wool. A CRI Indoor Air Quality label is what you want.

Tessera loop pile carpet, Forbo

If your carpet isn’t made from sustainable materials, it can still be eco-friendly if it is recycled. Some are made from 100% recycled plastic bottles – you’ll find them under the name of PET carpets, or P.E.T carpets  (polyethylene terephthalate.) Some advantages to PET fibres include stain and abrasion resistance and low moisture absorption. Other rugs are made by recycling old, used carpets, provided they are in suitable condition to be recycled.

 

Who manufactures eco-friendly carpets?

Interface

In 1994, Interface started the first carpet tile recycling initiative. Known as ReEntry, the program now involves separating the carpet from its backing and recycling more product into new Nylon fibre. Interface is also on a ‘Mission Zero’ to completely eliminate the company’s environmental impact by 2020.

On-line, off-line carpet collection, Interface

Desso

Desso’s innovative Take Back™ programme ensures that worn-out carpet tiles are recycled into new carpet products. Defying the cradle to grave model, Desso’s ambitious initiative follows the Cradle to Cradle® approach pioneered by Professor Michael Braungart and architect William McDonough.

In addition to its carpet manufacturing, Desso is committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by increasing its use of green electricity and covering its roof by 25,000 m2 of solar panels.

Take Back™ programme, Desso

Milliken

Specialised in minimising waste during its manufacturing process, Milliken focuses on the use of recycled materials in lieu of petroleum and other oil-based components. Milliken’s eco-friendly carpet uses an ECONYL® nylon yarn made from equal parts post-industrial and post-consumer recycled fibres. In addition, the company uses 90% recycled polyurethane for its Comfort Plus® range of lightweight, carpet tile backing.

Arctic Survey commercial carpet, Milliken

Forbo

Forbo recycles old carpet, fishing nets and plastic bottles to manufacture innovative eco-friendly carpets such as the Coral entrance flooring collection. Forbo’s Tessera tiles contain over 58% recycled content by weight, while their Westbond tiles have a minimum of 70% recycled content in their backing. Forbo’s carpets are also easy to clean thanks to a system called Dry Fusion which requires less water and fewer chemicals to perform.

 


Coral entrance flooring, Forbo

Recycling is one of several other factors to take into consideration when choosing the right flooring for your office. An invaluable tool in the landlord’s toolbox, office flooring is an important decision.

Written by Elissaveta Marinova of Re-public.
Source: Re-public Space Ltd.

Loos with views…

They may be small, but their importance isn’t to
be underestimated, for loo’s with views can
increase property value.

Whether it be in the workplace, retail or hospitality, washrooms are a key
expression of the company values. Organisations that value and understand
the power of first impressions will go above and beyond to impress. High-
end washroom countertops, top-notch fixtures and spectacular views all show
your attention to detail and highlight your level of commitment. Believe it or
not, loos with views command higher rent too.

To inspire and convince you, here is a roundup of some of the most unusual
of toilets, boasting the most striking of views. Be it in an office building,
public facilities, or a seemingly inconspicuous coffee shops, loos with views
are there to steal the show.

We have a personal preference (hint, it involves two-way mirrors), but what is
yours? Share your favourite on our Twitter page.


Mumin Papa Café – the women’s bathroom is built into an aquarium,
Akashi, Japan.


The toilets inside The Shard boast stunning views of London


Toilet perched over a disused 15-story elevator shaft,
Mexico


The JR tower in Japan is equipped with
panoramic urinal views.


Commerzbank headquarters – urinals with a view over Frankfurt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Don’t Miss A Sec’, two-way mirror glass public toilet in London,
Monica Bonvicini.

Because it wouldn’t be fair if the gents at the Shard didn’t enjoy similar
London views as the ladies…

 

 

4 Ways to make your workplace healthier and more productive

As humans we all become stuck in our ways, it’s natural! When it comes to workplace wellbeing some of us are happy to carry on in our corporate world, just the way we always have. Well, wake up people! Times are changing so we’ve come up with 4 easy ways you can boost your workplace productivity whilst being a lot healthier…no, it doesn’t involve an expensive office re-design or fancy desks! Read on…

Walking Meetings
The mid-afternoon meeting (the one that’s never productive)… infamous for smartphone checking, doodling, and daydreaming (…dare we say napping?). You don’t need a meeting pod to spur your creative thinking! Go for a brisk walk around the block with a couple of colleagues to get the creative juice flowing. Not only do meetings like these get you your 10,000 steps and Vitamin D but they’ve also been proven to improve employee relations and boost energy levels. Happy staff = hard working staff.

You don’t need a meeting pod to spur your creative thinking!

We’re not asking you to abolish all sit-down meetings (sometimes they’re necessary), but every once in a while…why not!

Office Plants
Although having loads of plants hanging around can remind you of your Grans greenhouse- they’re actually great for office spaces. We advise starting small, a little plant on your desk (here at Woosh we’re loving cacti at the moment!) is enough to boost oxygen and make your desk feel a little funkier! They’re brilliant little things and have been proven to make people calmer, happier and… improve productivity and creativity!

Proven to make people calmer, happier and… improve productivity.

If you’re looking for a company to brighten your office space with some more impressive plants then we can recommend Planteria Group check out their website here! They have multiple options from flowers, plants and tiny trees (even cacti!).

Don’t go crazy, no one wants to work in the jungle (asides from Bear Grills). A small plant here and there will do the trick and liven up your office in a flash!

Healthy Eating
This sounds cliché and well, maybe it is- but we’re going to mention it anyway! We all need snacks throughout the day to keep mood and energy up – that’s not rocket science. If your office has a vending machine, what does it sell? Let us guess: Crisps, chocolate, sweets, fizzy drinks and maybe water if you’re lucky! (We’ll be stoked if you tell us we’re wrong about this.) This is why people find it so difficult to lose the pounds when snacking at work, the snacks they reach for are far from healthy. If you manage staff, listen up! Sugary highs end with lethargic lows and we all know what that does to productivity…Uh uh- kills it!

We all need snacks throughout the day to keep mood and energy up.

As an employer, staff will thank you for providing healthy snacks every day of the week. It can be as simple as some fruit or a granola bar- no one’s judging, we all start somewhere.

Here’s a list of some great companies that will deliver healthy snacks directly to your office, to save you the bother:

> Fruitdrop (www.fruitdrop.co.uk)  – These guys are great for delivering you fruit, milk and their ‘Nutribox’. In this box, you’ll find gluten-free snacks that are designed with the perfect balance of protein, carbohydrate, and fat to reduce sugar cravings and help everyone feel fuller for longer! Psst…they also deliver to residential addresses.

> Snack Nation (www.snacknation.com) – They say ‘Delicious healthy snacks for awesome offices’… We say ‘Yes please!’. They will help you choose the right plan for your office size and guarantee 50% snack rotation so no snack boredom if you choose the Snack Nation crew. They provide you with a great variety of anything from Matt’s Mango Munchies to Complete’s Chocolate Chip Cookie (a healthy one obvs!). See for yourself.

Get Up And Get Moving
If you’re lucky enough to have a gym at your place of work, use it! The benefits of exercising regularly have been proven many times- you don’t need us to tell you this (4 Reasons why exercising boosts productivity at work? Click HERE!). If you’re lacking the motivation, you’re not alone! Luckily we have the solution…team up with your work buddies. Take on the gym together (no, not Jim from IT, leave him alone) there’s power in numbers and someone to hold you accountable is an added bonus.

Take on the gym together… there’s power in numbers and someone to hold you accountable.

No gym? No excuse! Go out walking…a 15 min brisk walk is better than nothing. Another idea we’ve seen is a pedometer challenge. Split your office into sections, be it Sales, Marketing, and Finance or just into equal groups! Every person has a pedometer (paid for by the company) and at the end of every week/month the group’s steps are counted up. Winning group gets a prize- we’ll leave that to your imagination (wine goes down very well and it’s good for the cholesterol, or so they say and we’re sticking to it).

Humans are naturally competitive, so this is a great way to get fit. Suggest fitness challenges to your workmates like- first to 100 push-ups (or 50). Why not ask if a pull-up bar could be installed on the door frame leading to the breakout room? Little bursts of fitness throughout the day are great for energy levels and productivity, and it saves you getting in your lycra and heading to the gym! Many people are put off by the idea of driving to the gym, getting changed, waiting their turn for the weights or machines (as well as having your every move being watched by someone who practically thinks they’re the Incredible Hulk!).

OK, so the office doesn’t need to be turned into a gym but installing a pull-up bar or a TRX suspension trainer in a relaxed area of the office? It’s not going to break the bank and it’ll get everyone off their butts!

Thanks for reading, we hope this helps you make your workplace healthy, wealthy and wise!