There are still many unknowns about the novel coronavirus. However, what we do know is that it is impacting our lives and our businesses significantly. Over the past several months, businesses in every country and across all industries have contended with unexpected hits to budget and disruptions to operations and supply chains. Many workforces have transitioned to working remotely and for those businesses that have continued in-person operations, cleanliness standards have exploded to never-before-seen levels.
A Rapidly Changing Outlook
Over the past several weeks, businesses and consumers alike have optimistically hoped for a respite from the virus during the warmer summer months, giving them time to brace for a “second wave” in the fall.
However, this virus continues to defy expectations and reinforce how little we know about it. As of June 30, 2020, COVID-19 cases have risen 40% in the U.S. over the previous week, reaching record highs since the pandemic began. In addition, new research has revealed that the coronavirus spreads most rapidly indoors and in other poorly-ventilated or enclosed areas. The risk also appears to increase with longer durations of exposure.
Despite the concerning trend in infections that suggest the first wave is far from over, many establishments throughout the United States are still cautiously reopening to the public. As they do, indoor spaces must be kept cleaner than ever before to curb the risk of infections that could shut doors again.
How to Protect Your Business from COVID-19 Risks
1. prioritize keeping your staff and clients safe
Absenteeism is costly in any business, and the risk of illness-related absence has never been higher. Protecting your staff and clients from illness will help avoid unplanned disruptions to your business, and will help retain your employees.
The best way to protect your staff and customers is to reduce in-person interactions; there are several ways to achieve this. First, establish procedures that limit the number of staff members that must be in an area at the same time. Then, leverage technology to remotely monitor cleaning progress wherever possible to further reduce contact points. In addition, use robots when possible for tasks that require a person to be in an enclosed indoor space for long periods of time (i.e. vacuuming large carpeted spaces). For example, Whiz, the autonomous vacuum sweeper from SoftBank Robotics, can clean up to 30,000 square feet per shift, a task that would take a person twice as long to vacuum manually.
2. reallocate your cleaning team's time to the most critical tasks
Heightened cleaning requirements have primarily included an increased focus on disinfection and sanitation. However, tasks like vacuuming and floor cleaning cannot be sacrificed, as they play a critical role in maintaining high indoor air quality. To sustain your business long-term, you will need to maintain exceptionally high levels of cleaning quality in every area.
Automated cleaning technologies can help ease the strain on your cleaning team. This allows you to meet the increased demand without overburdening your staff or forcing them to make compromises in cleaning quality. For example, automating rote cleaning tasks like vacuuming can save up to 30% of your usual cleaning time, giving staff time needed to focus on deep cleaning and frequent disinfecting of high-touch areas like door handles, elevator buttons, stair handrails, and restroom surfaces.
A recent SoftBank customer leveraged Whiz at an assisted living facility to increase vacuuming frequency, improve air quality, and give the cleaning team more time to regularly disinfect and sanitize high-touch areas. After using Whiz for just a few weeks, the building staff noticed that odors had disappeared from the areas Whiz had cleaned. The improvement can be attributed to Whiz’s HEPA filters, which capture 99.97% of particles, dust, and pollen--studies show that with Whiz, there is significantly less dust churned up and an 8x improvement in dust control.
3. scale your operations with automation
Finally, as more and more people are forced to stay home or social distance in shared spaces, scaling business operations is increasingly challenging. Automated technologies can help your teams accomplish more in the same amount of time and ramp up quickly to meet changing demands.
In a recent application, a building service and maintenance organization leveraged Whiz to achieve better cleaning results, increase effectiveness, and rapidly scale their service offerings--all while utilizing their existing staff and without increasing prices. With virtually no learning curve to use Whiz, the organization was able to quickly ramp up their services to meet customer demand--even as pandemic mitigation efforts escalated virtually overnight.
Automated cleaning technologies can help protect your business from the uncertainties of the coronavirus, while promoting the health and safety of your staff and clients and enabling you to quickly scale your business operations despite ongoing challenges.
Fortunately, in many cases, this investment doesn’t have to “break the bank.” Some independent cleaning solutions like Whiz, the autonomous vacuum sweeper from SoftBank Robotics, developed and distributed in partnership with Brain OS and ICE Robotics, are available with a subscription model. This allows cleaning companies and property owners to pilot the solution in their facilities in a way that is cost-effective.