Core facilities services to maintain while navigating COVID-19

A fully stocked supermarket aisle, empty of people.
Dylan Rogers

Every business has focused its attention on how to properly ensure the safety of employees, customers, and partners in light of the challenges presented by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Maintaining smooth operations during a time like this isn’t easy. Even if your business is temporarily closed, there are core facilities services you should maintain to ensure health, security, and optimum functioning.

Core service guidelines for essential businesses

Many essential businesses—such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and logistics providers—are currently experiencing a surge of activity. The following facilities services are essential to ensure the health and safety of your associates and visitors, but also to ensure that performance bottlenecks don’t threaten the stability of your business during these exceptional circumstances.

Sanitization: The New England Journal of Medicine has recently reported that COVID-19 can live up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 3 days on plastic and stainless steel. Stores are literally stocked to the ceilings with these materials, and constant handling presents significantly increased risks for everyone. Surfaces should be thoroughly wiped down with a solution of at least 70% alcohol.

Lighting maintenance: Proper lighting is essential to your associates and visitors feeling secure as they move throughout your facility. To handle emergency situations and power outages, regular checks should be performed on your backup lighting equipment.

HVAC and refrigeration: ASHRAE (The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) recommends preventative maintenance for your HVAC units—including regular filter replacements—to help purify air and maintain airflow to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. Customers in grocery stores seeking essential foodstuffs depend on your refrigeration units operating in top condition.

Door and lock maintenance: With increased foot traffic, maintaining the working function of your automatic doors and visitor counting systems remains crucial. Many essential businesses are receiving firm recommendations regarding the number of individuals allowed in certain spaces, and performing upkeep on secure door lock systems is critical for after-hours security.

Floor care: The state of your floors communicates a powerful message to customers and associates alike. A Harris Poll notes that over 90% of adults in the United States would not return to a business if they experienced dirty facilities, with unclean and untidy floors among the chief offenders. The health of your floors also influences the air quality of your facility, and will impact the extent to which pests like mice and cockroaches are attracted to your business.

Boundary tape installation: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have recommended a 6-foot distance between persons to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Installing boundary tape within high-traffic areas on the floors of your locations will provide a helpful visual aid to help visitors and your associates remain conscious of this guideline.

Point-of-sale sneeze guards: Installing a plexiglass sneeze guard at point-of-sale spots within retail locations will protect both your customers and your associates from coming into direct contact with the novel coronavirus. These sneeze guards are relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and easy to clean and maintain.

Service bundling: Bundling several work order requests together and assigning them to the same provider carries benefits in terms of time, money, and limiting viral exposure. Sending just one provider to a location greatly reduces expenses due to trip charges. More critically, far fewer individuals will risk the possibility of exposure because fewer providers are being dispatched to the same locations.

Core service guidelines for businesses temporarily closed

If your business has been met with temporary closure, you should nevertheless remain vigilant with the upkeep of your facilities services. Protect critical assets while your store remains inactive to prevent the likelihood of HVAC failures, floods, or electrical fires. When your business is ready to reopen, your customers and associates will be able to return as soon as possible.

Floor care: Floors should be swept and sanitized even during temporary closures to respond to ceiling leaks or other possible sources of material damage. In addition, maintaining clean and tidy floor surfaces reduces the possibility of pest activity. Inactive store locations are especially vulnerable to pest entry.

Exterior maintenance: To prevent the build-up of debris, trash, and natural overgrowth, your exteriors should be kept up during temporary closure. Garbage and overgrowth attracts common pests, and a poor exterior appearance may communicate the impression of permanent store closure.

HVAC and refrigeration: HVAC and in-store refrigeration units should be routinely checked to ensure that all vulnerable and high-activity components are ready to operate under normal business conditions. These assets are important to store revenue and should be ready for operation as soon as your business is prepared to reopen.

Temperature adjustment: Along with maintaining the condition of HVAC component parts, it’s important to make sure that your HVAC units aren’t running as though it’s business as usual. A service provider completing a site survey will offer advice for HVAC output specific to your business needs and environmental conditions. Simple adjustments will result in real-dollar savings in the weeks that lie ahead.

Door and lock maintenance: Front, rear, and auxiliary entrances should be periodically checked for proper automatic and manual function. Door handles, kickplates, and bottom seals should be regularly maintained even during periods of inactivity.