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.

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.

4 FM Mega-Trends

Woosh have been looking into the future, and these are 4 important trends that we think will affect the FM and service industry, going forward into the next decade.

Global warming will be one of the main sustainability challenges for the coming decade. To become more energy and carbon-efficient, the facilities and service industries will have to deal with challenges that will have a number of consequences for them. This will affect supply and value chains as well as building design, management, and maintenance. The systemic design will become a necessity when designing products, service solutions, and technology.

Technology- love it or hate it, it’s here to stay. It can increase productivity, lead to the development of new industries, as well as income growth and reduced poverty. Towards 2020 Woosh expect to see major progress in intelligent technology, such as near field communication (NFC) sensors, smart surveillance, security applications, and smart robots. This will enable the automation of more activities. With prices for advanced technologies declining, and labour costs increasing, we believe technology will take over more domains and functions as robotics improve in quality.

There will be increased demands for new skill sets, as technological development squeezes low-quality labour out of the market. For example: cleaning, will no longer be just an issue of ‘elbow grease’ or security just a set of ‘beady eyes’. New technologies will require that people work in a more resourceful and productive way.

Individualisation will be a must if facilities management and service providers are to make an impact on organisations and social relations. People and organisations want to feel special and unique. No one wants ‘one-size-fits-all’ products, services or solutions. Individualisation will be prominent as employees and customers increase their demands for individual attention. In a fast-paced and ever-changing world there will be a need for solutions that are scalable, customisable and cost-effective.

Over the coming decade, an increased focus on health and well-being will affect more aspects of private and business life. With lifestyle-related illnesses on the increase, the focus on health, exercise, and diet, will create a major impact on the global FM and services industry.

In Europe, over 30% of integrated FM revenue is generated by the healthcare sector. As budget cuts in Europe affect service provision, we think governments will likely outsource more activities.

The growth and scale of lifestyle-related diseases, like diabetes, will lead to new incentives in building designs to promote healthier and more productive lifestyles among company employees. Buildings will be assessed and designed to promote more active, comfortable, and fruitful lifestyles. As sitting seems to be the new smoking, more companies will be using flexible desking, have in house gyms and make provisions for healthy eating.

Written By Ashlyn-Jane

5 Ways YOU Can Help Save The Earth

Are you concerned about the earth? We are too. 

We need to face the facts, take joint responsibility and find ways to form good habits that will help save and preserve the beautiful nature of the planet we call home.

This is a simple Woosh list to make you earth’s new eco superhero:

Conserve water:

Sounds simple, right? That’s because it is. Wasting water is one of the biggest contributors to making The Earth feel little sad. How can you help? Fix that drippy tap that has been annoying you since the year 2000, don’t wash dishes under continuously running water, don’t over water your lawn- here in the UK we get enough rain to sink a ship- lets use it to our advantage. Use a water collection system in your garden, in times of need- use that supply for watering your lawn. You knew this one was coming, it’s an oldie but a goodie… turn off the taps when brushing your teeth! We are supposed to brush our teeth for 2 minuets, if we all leave the tap running whilst doing our teeth this wastes 6 litres a minuet! So 24 litres per person per day- in other words a lot of wasted water- and that’s just on our teeth.

Compost:

Think about how much food we chuck a year. Reducing the amount of solid waste you produce means less landfill (equals happier Earth). 18 million tonnes of food goes to landfill every year. If we could even compost half the food waste we’d be doing a grand job. Not only does this reduce nasty landfill, the compost also helps our garden grow green and lush.

Plant a tree:

This is so simple. Like Nike says; “Just do it”!

Energy save:

Turn off lights when you’re not in the room (said every dad EVER!). You may be afraid of the dark, but your sofa isn’t (nor is The Earth). Unplug appliances when they aren’t in use. Instead of turning them off after use, just unplug. Make this a habit.

Recycling:

Putting cans and bottles into a different bin really can make a difference.  If an office building of 4,000 workers recycled all of its office paper waste for a year, it would be the equivalent of taking almost 200 cars off the road.  Check out our article on reincarnated sanitary waste and find out what we do with our sanitary and nappy waste here.

So there we are…5 Ways to help you become a true Eco Worrier.

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