Many tech office spaces are being left empty right now as businesses pivot to work-from-home schedules that allow employees to better maintain social distancing.
This change will significantly cut back on the amount of maintenance you need to perform to keep the office comfortable. However, checking in is still a good idea.
Workers may not be able to return to the office for a month or more — and in that timeframe, a significant mess can build up if you’re not careful. Regular office check-ins during an event like this can ensure your tech space is in good order and functional when employees return.
Here are five key areas of office maintenance you should focus on while everyone’s working from home.
1. Keep up With Basic Cleaning
For the foreseeable future, a deep clean of the office probably won’t be possible. You can, however, keep up with basic cleaning and ensure the building is in a good state when workers return.
Where possible, dust, sanitize and take out any trash that’s been left behind. Make sure garbage is out of the building and the office is dusted somewhat regularly. You should also clean any glass walls and doors and inspect vents for a buildup of dust, debris or moisture. This will both help you keep these vents clean, and clue you in on any potential HVAC issues.
Doing this every other week is a good idea. More frequent cleaning will ensure your office is in good shape. However, remember to balance your cleaning against following social distancing and compliance with any relevant shelter-in-place orders.
2. Check Your Ventilation System
Inspect your office’s air filters and ensure they’re still functional. If the filters are near the end of their lifespan, try replacing them if possible. Your building’s air filtration system will continue to run while it’s not occupied. If the filters aren’t working, dust will be circulated throughout the office.
This can create a significant mess. If you’re keeping up with dusting and regular cleaning, it can also make your job a lot harder than it needs to be.
If a filter is clogged for long enough, it can cause even more serious problems — like black mold buildup and dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.
Keeping your air filtration system maintained and your filters fresh will ensure your workers return to clean and easy-to-breathe air.
3. Protecting Sensitive Electronics
Preventing equipment failure is critical for any company — but especially so for small and medium businesses that need to take advantage of every possible resource to compete with big brands. You may need to take special steps to ensure any sensitive electronics in the office aren’t damaged while no one is around to keep an eye on them.
Consider relocating any office electronics that aren’t necessary for the business to keep running — or, at least, unplugging them while your workers are away. If you have equipment that needs to be kept online 24/7, like a data server, you’ll probably have to make do and ensure the office is a good working environment.
Sensitive electrical devices can fail for several reasons — including the buildup of dust, high levels of moisture, and extreme heat or cold. If you want to keep your electronics working well, general maintenance of building environmental control systems — like air conditioning, heating, air filters and dehumidifiers — will be necessary.
You can also use advanced cooling systems that help keep your electronics running in a safe temperature range. These systems can ensure electronics won’t pull in significant amounts of dust or heat up and become more likely to fail.
4. Toss or Relocate Perishables
If perishable food items are stored in your office, you’ll want to remove them. Otherwise, you risk coming back to a big mess.
While cleaning the office, take quick stock of anywhere food might be stored, especially if there’s a dedicated kitchen or space for food prep. Be sure to check refrigerators, as well as nearby cabinets and drawers.
Most products that need to be refrigerated won’t hold up for a month and should be tossed or used. Frozen goods will last longer, but it’s a good idea to err on the side of caution. Foodstuff that stays for months in the freezer may go bad by the time the office is reopened.
5. Inspect Your Heating and Cooling System
As with your air filtration system, you’ll want to make sure your building’s heating and cooling system stays functional. If it’s left running and fails while you’re not in the office, it can cause your power bills to spike, push the temperature out of a comfortable range or even lead to more serious issues.
Carpets can be damaged, and walls could be ruined by leaking refrigerant. Failing HVAC systems can also leak toxic chemicals, which can endanger the health of workers when they return to the building.
To avoid these problems, familiarize yourself with the tell-tale signs of heating and air conditioning failure and check up on your building’s HVAC regularly — like when you enter the office for cleaning.
Maintaining the Office While Workers Are Home
While your workers are away, you should check in on the office every so often. As long as you’re hitting each of these five key areas every other week or so, you can catch most issues that may arise.
With a little bit of maintenance and preventive care, you can ensure you don’t come back to a mess once people can return to work. If you are in a major city like Chicago or New York, here are some resources to explore:
Lexie is a digital nomad and business owner. If she’s not traveling around the country, you can find her baking some chocolate chip cookies or hiking with her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.