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Cleaning Up After The Coronavirus

The coronavirus that has infected more than 100,000 people around the world can lurk for hours on doorknobs, handrails, keyboards, elevator buttons and other hard surfaces, just waiting to be passed on to someone else. “By touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes,” a person could become ill with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, warned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

That makes it imperative to thoroughly clean shared workspaces when a known or suspected exposure has been introduced by an employee or visitor. But what is the best way to disinfect a contaminated space? And how clean is clean enough? Employers are figuring it out as they go.

On March 2, the Wildhorse Casino in eastern Oregon cleared out thousands of customers within hours of learning that an employee had tested positive for COVID-19. The casino and adjacent hotel, movie theater and arcade closed for two days of deep cleaning with special disinfecting equipment typically used by hospitals.

That same week, the North Star Mall in San Antonio closed for 24 hours of deep cleaning after learning that a person who tested positive for COVID-19 had visited several stores and the food court. A nearby elementary school was also closed for cleaning after it was discovered that one of the teachers worked at the mall.

Nike went one step further that week and closed its world headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., for two days of deep cleaning “out of an abundance of caution” after learning of a COVID-19 case in a neighboring town.

Closing Shop Not Possible for All Employers

However, shutting down an entire business for a deep clean is not a universal response to coronavirus exposure. It is not among the CDC’s recommendations, and it may be increasingly impractical as the virus becomes more widespread and exposures multiply. Businesses are more likely to announce general cleaning protocols and follow them discreetly when an exposure happens.

A person attended a political conference in Maryland’s National Harbor in late February and days later was diagnosed with COVID-19. The event was held at the Gaylord National Resort, operated by Marriott International, and several prominent elected officials who were there have quarantined themselves voluntarily for 14 days. But the resort did not close. On March 10, Marriott International issued a statement outlining general steps it has taken to clean common areas and seal off contaminated guest rooms. The hotel chain and National Harbor did not comment further.

Heavily used airports and transit systems continue to operate 24/7, with more frequent swabbing of handrails, doorknobs and elevator buttons. Even so, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is advising people to avoid the subway if possible and asking local employers to stagger start times to reduce congestion.

What’s most important when a workspace is contaminated is to methodically track the steps of the infected person and clean any shared surfaces they touched with effective cleaning solutions, said Andrew Rosen, vice president for sales at Commercial Cleaning Corp., a New Jersey cleaning contractor that’s been inundated with calls recently.

“You want to know where that person was in that office and then go in and clean top to bottom, disinfecting all the high-touch areas,” Rosen said. “If an area is grimy, clean it first with soap and water. Make sure there’s no dust, nothing on the surface, before you take a wipe and disinfect. Make sure the disinfectant stays on for the kill time. You know those Clorox or Lysol wipes? Most of them have a four-minute kill claim. That means the surface needs to stay wet for four minutes.”

For added security, Rosen said, some employers follow up with an electrostatic cleaning, using gun-like devices that spray a mist to envelop all surfaces in disinfectant and that have been seen in a lot of coronavirus cleanup photos. Rosen sells the devices through a separate company, and has shipped several to Washington state, where the initial U.S. cases were reported.  He’s sold out now and doesn’t expect any new supplies until July. “They’re made in China,” he explained.

Federal Guidelines Issued for Coronavirus Cleaning

For businesses that prefer to handle matters themselves, several federal agencies recently released post-contamination cleaning guidelines.

Immediately following an exposure, the CDC recommends closing off areas used by the ill person and waiting 24 hours or as long as possible before beginning to clean and disinfect, opening doors and windows to improve air circulation.

It is not known exactly how long the novel coronavirus can stay alive on a surface, said Dr. Jay C. Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC. “Under real-world situations, it’s probably minutes, but it could be days,” he said. “It depends on the temperature, humidity and the type of surface.”

After cleaning off any obvious dirt from the area, businesses should disinfect shared spaces using diluted household bleach, alcohol solutions with at least 70 percent alcohol, or household disinfectants effective against the coronavirus. Cleaning crews should wear gloves and wash their hands immediately after removing the protective gear.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has listed disinfectants currently thought to be effective and urges users to follow the directions on the product label, since some disinfectants require more time to kill the virus than others. “If the directions for use for viruses/virucidal activity list different contact times or dilutions, use the longest contact time or most concentrated solution,” the EPA advised.

The Toughest Cleaning Challenges: Airplanes and Cruise Ships

Some cleaning jobs are bigger than others. It’s hard to imagine a more complicated disinfecting challenge than an airplane or cruise ship that has carried infected passengers. Both industries have long-standing protocols for cleaning, refined through years of Ebola, SARS and other health crises and guided by CDC instructions for ships and airplanes.

Several airlines, including Delta, United and American, have issued statements regarding updated cleaning protocols, vowing to remove from service any flights that have carried passengers  with COVID-19 so that the planes can be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.

Princess Cruises has gone even further. In late February, the cruise line issued a high-profile request for proposals, asking for bids “for an extensive out of service cleaning, disinfection and refurbishment” of the Diamond Princess, the ship that became notorious for its excruciating weeks long quarantine in Yokohama harbor in Japan. Proposals were to address how companies would clean a long list of designated areas, including staterooms, galleys, deck areas and handrails, the medical center, and entertainment venues on the 18-deck ship where nearly 700 people tested positive for COVID-19. The proposals are to be reviewed by the CDC and World Health Organization as well as Princess. So far, no contract winner has been announced. Princess Cruises did not respond to questions about how many bids it has received.

SOURCE: SHRM.ORG

How to Eat Healthy-ish While in Self-Quarantine

I was thinking of posting something regarding cleaning your apartment during this pandemic. But I’m sure we’ve all done that at least 4 or 5 times in the past few weeks. Every window has been sprayed, every shelf has been dusted. I bet your homes have never looked more pristine.

Now that you’ve taken care of your exterior well being, let’s focus on your interiors. Some of you have been socially distant for some time now, and others are just getting started. Here is an article that will help you eat a little bit better than if you were in a fallout shelter with only canned beans for sustenance.

During this time, putting your nutritional needs on the back burner might feel easy. We all want one less thing to worry about in these “Hollaback Girl” days (because this sh*t is BANANAS), right?). But consider whether it’s gonna help you much in the long run, because… we might be here a while.

Keeping your nutrition on point can help you sleep better, feel better, and stay in a better mood, not to mention help keep your immune system in fighting shape — all super important in this uncharted territory.

Here are some easy ways you can keep your meals balanced, even if you’re stuck in the house for a couple of weeks (or longer) with a paltry selection of food.

1. Accept that your quarantine diet won’t be perfect

You may have been ketoPaleo, or [insert eating plan here] before quarantine, but… that might not be the case now — at least not until things settle down a little.

One thing you can do to free up some much-needed mental real estate is let go of the need for perfection or even near-perfection as it pertains to your diet right now. It’s 2020, you’re quarantined, and good enough is freaking fantastic.

Hopefully you had time to stock up on your normal basics, but if not, that’s OK. Assess what you have available and do the best you can — maybe it means low carb instead of keto, or pescatarian instead of plant-based (because you just found a bunch of tuna in the back of a cabinet).

Your body needs nourishment, even if it comes from SPAM and green beans.

2. View it as a “shop your pantry” challenge

Not to make light of the situation, but you may as well challenge yourself to use up all the ingredients that have been sitting untouched in your pantry for months.

Yes, it’s finally time to crack open that bag of lentils or egg noodles. Go ahead and put that starting-to-freezer-burn pack of pork chops in the fridge to thaw too.

Take stock of what you’ve got and enter it all into an online tool like Supercook, which spits out hundreds of recipes you can make based on the ingredients you already have. It’s not perfect, but it’s free and does a pretty great job.

3. Have a plan to tackle boredom- and stress-eating

You may have a sudden and unexpected influx of idle time, especially if you can’t work from home. This can lead to eating out of boredom… because what else is there to do? Plus, with tensions running high, you may be driven to stress-eat.

To be fair, if there were ever a time to stress-eat, it’s now! Go for it — as long as it’s a few times and not a habitual unhealthy coping mechanism. Foods that may not be the most optimal nutrition-wise are sometimes just good for the soul.

In fact, research shows that eating a sugary treat like chocolate once in a while helps lift your spirits, while habitual sugar consumption may actually increase your risk for depression.

Here are some things you can do to help manage your stress:

  • Meditate or pray.
  • Exercise.
  • Spend time outdoors (if you’re able to safely).
  • Journal.
  • Play with your kids or pets.
  • Make art (even if you think it’s bad — no one’s judging!).

On that note, you’ll need to have a plan to keep boredom-eating at bay too. That means you’ll need to fill your days with things that keep your mind and body busy.

Now is the time to catch up on all the shows in your Netflix queue, clean out your closet, give the baseboards a wipedown, write your dystopian YA novel (for real, though… too soon?), actually fold your laundry, or start practicing yoga.

4. Plan your meals

We know what you’re thinking: What’s the point in meal-planning if you’re gonna be in the same place for the next 2 weeks, with time to spare?

Well, it’s a great habit to get into, and it can help ensure that you’re strategically using the food you have. Here are three easy steps you could knock out in an hour or less to meal-plan for a 2-week quarantine:

  1. Identify the foods you have that will spoil while you’re quarantined. If they can be frozen, put them in the freezer. (Hint: A lot of things can go in the freezer, even fresh veggies — just cook them first.) The fresh food that can’t be frozen (like salad greens or fruit) is going to be first up on your meal plan.
  2. Map out your meals. How many do you need to prep per day? How many snacks? For most people, it’s easiest to eat the same thing every day for breakfast and lunch and mix it up for dinner. On the other hand, since you have some extra time, you may not mind doing more cooking. Nothing wrong with that!
  3. Choose the meals you want to include. Use a tool like Supercook and include some comfort-food recipes, family favorites, and maybe some new recipes you want to try, if you have those ingredients on hand.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, but try to plan each meal with a protein source (meat, eggs, or a vegetarian protein like tofu or peanut butter), a veggie (even if canned), and a starch (like potato or bread). If you’re low carb or keto, skip the starch and double up on the veggies.

Some super-easy meals that have a lot of wiggle room as far as ingredients go (and big veggie potential) include stir-friessoupssandwichesfrittatas, omelets, and casseroles. And if all else fails, just put everything in a pot and call it goulash.

5. Prioritize food safety

This one is a biggie. Even though quarantines are a bummer, they have a vital purpose. If you have to break quarantine to go to the hospital because you got food poisoning from some chicken in a dented can, it kinda defeats the purpose.

Here are the basics of food safety:

  • Meat: Thaw frozen meat in the fridge (if possible) or under cold running water. Leaving meat out on the counter increases the likelihood of germ growth. Also, make sure to fully cook your meat to the correct internal temperature (165°F for chicken, 145°F for pork and beef). If you don’t have a meat thermometer, make sure you’ve cooked all the pink out and that any juices coming from the meat run clear.
  • Canned foods: Be wary of dented cans, which may have microscopic tears where bacteria can enter. It’s best to leave them alone.
  • Fresh produce: Use it up first since it will likely spoil the fastest. Don’t eat produce with visible mold or spoilage or a funky smell.
  • Expired food: If you need to eat expired food while you’re quarantined, use your very best judgment. Smell it and look at it. If it smells bad or has visible mold growth or a change in color, toss it. If you take a bite and it tastes off or has a weird texture, don’t eat any more.
  • Leftovers: Get these in the fridge quickly to minimize the amount of time they spend in the “danger zone” of 40 to 140°F. Throw them out after 3 to 4 days.

Be wary of cross-contamination as well. Don’t chop salad ingredients on the same cutting board you just used for raw meat. Use a different knife too. If you’re cooking for multiple people, don’t taste as you go unless you use a clean spoon each time. And make sure to wash your hands regularly (as if you haven’t heard that enough at this point!).

These food safety practices can help keep you from getting food poisoning and from sharing germs and viruses with others who are quarantined with you.

6. Reach out if you need food

Finally, if you don’t have enough food to last your quarantine period or enough money to place a grocery delivery order, be sure to reach out and let someone know. We are very lucky to be connected via the web through this pandemic, even in the midst of physical social isolation.

There are likely already some resources mobilized in your community to help people get food. Some places that may be able to help you or point you in the right direction are local food banks, churches, schools, restaurants, and grocery stores. Give them a call or a Facebook message.

Sticking to a routine of cooking and eating meals that are as healthy as possible — given the circumstances and what you have available — will help your body in huge ways, keeping you feeling the best you can to tackle the coming days. Stay well!

Link Sources:

SOURCE: Greatist

9 Tips For Spring Cleaning Tips Your Office

With the weather warming up and winter fading away, now is the perfect time to start thinking about spring cleaning your office! Cleaning and organizing any room can seem like an overwhelming task. But with a few key tips and tricks in mind, you’ll have a fresh, clean office in no time. Here are 9 tips for spring cleaning your office.

Divide Your Office into Sections
Before you start cleaning, take a good look around. Is your desk a mess? Are your bookshelves overloaded? Are there file boxes stacked up behind the door? The best way to tackle any mess is to break it down into sections. Start with one area and work in small sections at a time.

Organize Paperwork
As paperless as you may want your office to be, it’s nearly impossible. Files, notepads, memos – these things pile up with ease. Make room on a bookshelf or cabinet for file boxes or paper trays. Separate papers by type such as “to file” and “to do.”

Clean Out Your Desk
Your desk should hold your absolute most important items, such as a computer, phone, notepad, and pen. If your desk has drawers, those drawers should hold your most important or most current paperwork. The trick is to keep all of your most relevant items within arm’s reach.

Create a Designated Area for Supplies
Post-it notes, staples, paper clips – everyone’s desk is full of them. Empty out that junk drawer, gather the pens that are scattered across your desk, and create a designated drawer or bin to organize office supplies. Don’t use your stapler every day? Put it in a drawer. Is your desk calendar on a page from three months ago? Throw it out. Use your desk to hold the items that you really need.

Find a Place for Temporary Items
If you receive lots of trade publications and magazines, create a space just for them. Don’t mix them in with important memos or client files. By keeping reading materials grouped together in one box or bin, you’ll be able to see how quickly they stack up. And it will be easier to know which subscriptions you can cancel.

Eliminate Your Digital Clutter
Digital clutter is as frustrating to deal with as physical clutter. Clean out your inbox. Read, reply, and delete emails you no longer need. Remove unused desktop icons on your computer by filing documents away into folders. The less icons on your screen, the easier it will be to find the ones you’re looking for.

Clean Your Furniture
When the organization is done it’s time to actually clean. Wipe down all surfaces with disinfectant. Dust your shelves. Polish your furniture. Cleaning and disinfecting should be a part of your weekly routine. If you can’t keep up with it yourself, hire a professional cleaning company to come in once or twice a week.

Clean Your Floors
Don’t ignore your floors. If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, hire a professional cleaning crew to vacuum, mop, or wax your floors. Professional cleaners have equipment that you probably don’t, so they’ll be able to get every baseboard, corner, and air duct clean as a whistle.

Keep Up With Clutter
The best thing you can do to keep your office clean and tidy is to keep up with the mess. If you can get in the habit of filing and storing item where they belong, you may never have to do a major clean-up again. And if you hire professional cleaners, you can cross actual cleaning off your to-do list forever.

It’s time to get your office in shape for spring. Organize paperwork, clean off your desk, and empty out that junk drawer. Create storage areas for reading materials and office supplies. Clean out your inbox, remove unused icons on your computer, and hire a cleaning crew to make it dust-free and dirt-free. With a clean, organized office to work in, you’re sure to get more done!

SOURCE: FLOORSAVERS.COM

Cleaning Your Work Computer

Whether you’re cleaning your computer because you’re leaving for a new job (congrats!), or simply because you can’t stand how cluttered your digital desktop has become, cleaning up your computer can be just as cathartic as a real-life cleaning binge. Here are some tips to thoroughly tidy up your work computer.

Clear off Your Desktop

For many of us, our desktop (or downloads folder) is where all the random files we work on end up. So it tends to be the first place to become a mess. It’s a graveyard for old screenshots, drafts and tons of other old and unnecessary files you’ll probably never look at again. Send anything you won’t need in the future to the recycle bin, and file away everything else in its proper place.

Purge Your Files

Be ruthless with your file purge. Ask yourself ‘will I ever look at this again?’ If the answer is no, it’s time to say goodbye. While it’s not quite Marie Kondo’s ‘does it spark joy’ method, the idea is the same. If the usefulness isn’t there, trash it. We’re talking about all those saved screenshots and gifs you’ve accumulated. Months old to do lists and notes that have long since been actioned. Drafts of files you have a newer copy of. Embarrassing pics from the company Christmas party that you’d rather forget about. If you absolutely have to keep it for filing purposes, consider keeping it on your shared drive or the cloud, but not on your actual computer drive. This will free up space and make your computer faster.

Have a Folder for Everything you Keep

The key to an organized computer is an efficient filing system. Our personal favourite method is creating a folder for every project or client. Have an archive folder you can move these folders into when the project is completed (or annually, if it’s an ongoing project/client). Others prefer to organize chronologically with a folder for each month. The folder structure you adopt will depend on how many files you deal with, and what will make it easiest for you to locate the files you need in the future. Your filing system should be intuitive enough that you can find any file without remembering where you put it. The folders should be logically named and lead you where you need to go.

Clear your Browser History and Cache

Did you make a typo in a URL one time and it won’t stop appearing in the autocomplete every single time you try to type the correct URL? Maybe you visited a website a month ago, and they’re still following you around the web incessantly, even though you have absolutely zero interest in the product advertised? Or perhaps you’ve been liberal with adhering to your company’s web browsing policy. Whatever the case, it’s time to clear your browser history and cache! This will give you a clean slate when it comes to autocomplete text and other things following you around the web. Just keep in mind if you clear your cache, you’ll need to re-login to all your online accounts, but this shouldn’t be a problem if you’ve saved your passwords or use a password management system (which is a very good idea for privacy and security reasons!)

Back up all your Files

Always back up your files. Most mid to large sized companies will have a shared drive or cloud storage that’s ideal for this. This protects all your work in the event that something terrible happens to your computer. Spilled coffees or viruses strike more than you might think. In an ideal world you’d already be backing up your files on a weekly or monthly basis, but now is better than never! Right after you’ve done a thorough purge is the perfect time to back up your files as everything is neatly sorted and in the right place, so it will be easy to find if you ever need to use the backup. If you’re cleaning out your computer because you’re leaving a job, putting your files on a shared drive that your coworkers can access is also a simple way to provide them with a copy of all your docs to ensure continuity for the person who takes over your work.

Sort Out your Personal Files

As general rule, it’s a good idea to keep your personal files separate from your work files. However in our digital world overlap happens. If you’re leaving for a new job, make sure to delete all of your personal files, emails, contacts and messages from your computer. Many employers make a copy of all the files on your computer and send them to your direct manager, ensuring that no work is lost. If you’re storing personal files such as photos, tax returns, pay stubs, bills, your resume or anything else you might not want others to have access to, delete them before you leave. If you need a copy of them, have a cloud account (such as dropbox or google drive) that you can drop them in. A USB stick you can use to transfer them to your personal computer works, as well.

Erase or Update Saved Logins

Take a look at the saved logins on your browser (usually under the settings tab) and delete any that you no longer use, and update any where the password has changed. This can be a lifesaver down the road when you’re trying to log into an account, and the password is ready to autocomplete without you having to search through emails or notebooks to find it! While you’re in your browser settings, you can also take a look at all your default settings (i.e. search engine, colours, font size, etc.) and ensure you’re happy with them. If you’re leaving a job permanently, erase all your logins, especially if they include logins to personal accounts. At most workplaces your work computer’s login will be completely erased along with your browser history and saved logins, but it’s better to play it safe!

Empty the Recycle Bin

Don’t forget to empty the recycle bin (or trash if you’re on a Mac) when you’re done with your file purge! Did you know that when you delete a file, it’s not really gone until you empty the bin? Files in your trash folder also take up space on your computer and can slow it down. If you haven’t emptied your trash bin in a while (or ever) you might be surprised how much faster your computer is after emptying it! If you don’t know how to empty your recycle/trash, it’s easy. Right click the recycle bin/trash icon on your desktop (or dock for Mac) and select the empty option.

Extra Steps if you’re Leaving for a New Job

  • Clean your computer before you hand in your notice. Though it’s rare for employers to send you packing after you give your two weeks’ notice, it does happen occasionally. So it’s a good idea to take precautions and clean your computer beforehand.
  • If you want to be extra safe, do a factory reset of the computer. Keep in mind this will wipe absolutely everything, so it’s extra important to make sure that you back up any files you’ll need for your last couple weeks on a drive. Keep in mind, a full reset may not be an option if you don’t have admin access to your computer.
  • If a full wipe seems extreme, you can also download free apps (such as Eraser or File Shredder) that’ll help you remove data for specific folders or apps, ensuring no stray files are unintentionally left behind. Again, this may require admin access.
  • Make sure you have all the passwords you need. If your work computer is the primary way you log into some accounts you’ll need access to after you leave, ensure you have the login info you need including both the usernames and passwords.
  • Delete data on apps where you share personal info that you don’t want getting into the wrong hands (for example Skype, iMessage or even your work email). While you’re at it, delete any apps you downloaded for personal reasons, such as Spotify or Netflix.
  • Don’t forget about your company phone! Many of these same steps apply to cleaning out your company phone before handing it back to your employer. In fact, given how personal we tend to get with phones, it might be even more important to scrub your phone data! 
Source: Randstad

7 New Years Resolution Ideas for Your Work Life

A great new year starts with a fresh start. It’s a fun and exciting time that you get to spend with the people you love — friends, family, and kids. Maybe you’ll resolve to spend more time time doing fun activities with your family. Maybe you want to spend more time at the gym working toward your weight loss goals. Maybe you want to meet new people and completely revolutionize your life! 

Regardless of your priorities, New Years is always a great time to set some career goals. These can include a wide array of resolutions, from achieving a more equal work-life balance to changing your perspective on the work itself. But if you’re looking for a place to start, here are seven New Year’s resolution ideas perfect for any career-oriented person:

1. Get organized.

This is a great resolution inside the office and out. Office organizing — or simply getting organized in general — can be a daunting task, especially if you let it build up — paper, receipts, stray Post-Its,  trinkets, knick knacks, desktop files, etc. It can seem like a big, bad mess that is seemingly impossible to tidy.

But that’s what New Year’s resolutions are for — taking on the things you couldn’t or didn’t want to in the previous year and breaking those bad habits. So march into that office with a box and start throwing away old junk. 

Sit down and go through the thousands of unread emails. Resolve to make better use of an online calendar. Eliminate all the unnecessary files on your desktop that are cluttering your screen. Give everything a wipe down: your desk, monitor, keyboard, and mouse; you’ll feel better knowing your desk space is a little less germy, and you can start the year with a fresh slate.

Getting organized will increase your focus and productivity both in and out of the office, and it’s an easy, simple, and life-changing task that will revolutionize the way you think about life and work. Ask for a raise.
Maybe you’ve been trying to get a raise for a few months, or maybe you’ve shied away from asking for one. Either way, the new year is the perfect time to become resolute in your goals and ambitions (just make sure you set a deadline for the goal!).

2. Ask for a raise.

Asking for a raise a great way to start taking your career more seriously by recognizing your value and advocating for yourself. If you’ve never asked for a raise before, this will be perfect practice for your career going forward. You deserve to be heard and respected, and negotiation skills are vital for any professional. Making one of your goals a determination to get compensated fairly makes you a priority not just in your eyes, but also in your employer’s.

3. Learn a new skill.

The new year is the perfect time to commit to learning a new skill, whether it pertains to your current career or your future aspirations. Maybe you want to take a course on project management. Maybe you want to attend a seminar on boosting your confidence and taking charge. Maybe you want to get rid of a bad habit. Maybe you want to learn how SEO works. There are many ways to make New Year’s your turning point! 

Professionals should always be learning and growing. The fact that you’re no longer pursuing a formal education shouldn’t stop you. Take some time for yourself and expand your mind each and every day. This is a great way to make yourself an even more vital part of an organization’s infrastructure. The more you have to offer, the more a company will want to keep you. 

4. Make your health a priority.

Toss out those old, outdated and stereotypical New Year’s resolutions about weight loss and hitting the gym and replace them with a resolution to take your health more seriously. 

This means taking time for yourself. Go to sleep earlier. Maybe wake up a little later. Drink more water. Go to routine check-ups. Eat more vegetables. Drink less alcohol. Be more active — and that doesn’t mean necessarily getting a gym membership. 

All of these little things will make you happier and healthier in the long run. And if you’re healthy, you’ll be able to better perform at work and prevent burning out. You can’t be at your best in your office if you’re sick or run down. And we tend to overwork ourselves as it is, skipping lunches and staying up late to finish big projects. But by committing to take your health and mental well-being more seriously you’ll be increasing your productivity, too. 

5. Do more networking.

Just because you have a LinkedIn account doesn’t mean your networking is all taken care of.

You need to continuously make connections, start conversations, and grow your professional network. These are habits you can’t lose. Not only can this help you learn new skills and grow your knowledge, but it can also help you stay ahead of the game and gain knowledge before others, and it might even open up to an opportunity down the line. Maybe that’s for another position or job, or maybe its for a future opportunity your company needs help with. Either way, making networking a career priority and resolution will put you in an even better place as far as your career is concerned. And these interpersonal skills are invaluable. It won’t happen in a single day or week, but you’ll notice the difference down the line. 

6. Quit your job.

This is a big one. If you hate your job, your boss, or the field you’re working in, quitting your job could be the thing that skyrockets you into your dream career. Don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back. And don’t let comfort  hold you back either if you know you aren’t getting the skills and experience you need to grow. It is a stressful thing to do and to think about for sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Take a risk. Make yourself and your future a priority. You’ll feel a weight lifted off your shoulders once you do. And then you can really pursue your passions and your dreams. 

7. Learn to better accept criticism.

Everyone makes mistakes and everyone has something to learn. But sometimes, accepting these criticisms can be painful. Maybe you get angry, maybe you ignore them, or maybe you get emotional — whatever your way of dealing with criticism is, it can probably be better. Take the New Year to change your perspective on accepting criticism to be more productive and worthwhile. Make it a point to learn from these critiques and change your bad habits. Accept the critiques with actual, genuine interest and a positive attitude. More often than not, criticism isn’t meant to hurt your feelings or tear you down. 

SOURCE: FAIRYGODOSS

How to Prepare For Cold Weather Work

Unless you’re living somewhere in the sunny south, it’s time to prepare for chilly winter weather. For facility managers (FMs), this means adjusting and upgrading many areas of the office, including the exterior of the building and the surrounding property. Here are some ways FMs can ensure the comfort and safety of their employees, as well as the longevity of the office building during a cold spell.

Automate your HVAC system

Are you still using a manual heating and cooling system? Are your employees constantly grumbling about fluctuating temperatures? By installing an automated HVAC system that regulates and maintains temperatures, FMs can ensure the comfort, happiness and productivity levels of their employees stay at their full potential. Automated systems not only help regulate the facility’s temperatures during season changes, but can do so during office closures as well. Annual holidays may mean that your facility will be closed for a prolonged period of time. By kicking the HVAC system into power-saving mode over a break, FMs can lower energy costs—and these savings are crucial with the parties, vacations and slower periods that the holiday season brings.

Maintain spotless floors

As the FM, it’s your job to schedule regular maintenance checks to avoid asset breakdowns or damage. Doing so ensures that employees have all the resources they need and that the office stays clean and spotless. An easy way to tackle all of these responsibilities is to place floor mats and signage in commonly used entranceways as storm season approaches. Mud, slush, snow and salt can ruin floors, therefore increasing facility repair and replacement costs. These are all great reasons to invest in high-quality floor mats that are durable and absorbent.

If mats are only solving half the battle, avoid permanent damage to the floor by employing cleaning staff to do a daily clean. You can also suggest that employees bring an extra set of footwear for indoor use to avoid mud-drenched and salt-caked boots ruining the floors. All of these important steps play a role in protecting the company’s outward presentation and more importantly, the well-being of valued staff members.

Tip: When wet weather persists, don’t forget storage spaces and racks for sodden coats and umbrellas.

Avoid seasonal bugs

The changing season brings with it the inevitable flu bug. That’s why making tissues and hand sanitizer available in commonly frequented locations around the office is key to maintaining a healthy office. And while sending sick staff home—and encouraging them to stay there—is a given, there is another way to help promote a purified office space: plants. Plants can play a vital role in helping clean, revitalize and remove chemicals from the air. They are proven to reduce indoor air pollution, and add a calming, natural element to any indoor space.

Speaking of adding vitality and Feng Shui into an office, you can help brighten workdays by ensuring that the winter wear and tear doesn’t disrupt the light entering your facility. The gloomy conditions and darker days of the season mean that there is minimal natural lighting coming through office windows. To maximize natural light in your building during frosty days, ensure that windows are cleaned on a regular basis.

Tip: Learn about the best plants to help clean the air in your office.

Electronics

There are many ways to lower your energy consumption during the holidays. Computers consume an enormous amount of energy, even when they’re left on standby. For this reason, it’s essential to ensure that all staff switch off their computers during winter breaks and vacations. Additionally, holiday lights and decorations are likely to increase your energy consumption over the final months of the year. To optimize this consumption, use energy efficient lighting such as LED lights on your Christmas trees, the rest of your workplace and whatever other space you decide to illuminate this holiday season.

These techniques and technologies are just a few ways to get ready for the season ahead. To ensure that you’re fully prepared, dive into your office’s reports and analytics to understand which areas could use the most revitalization.

SOURCE: OFFICESPACE SOFTWARE

9 Tips for Office Fall Cleaning

Fall is officially upon us. While we usually hear the term “spring cleaning,” we think fall cleaning is just as important. Try these tips to get your work space tidy and ready to take on the fall and winter seasons.

1. Clean and organize your work space

We’re approaching that time of year where the germs fly free. Take 10 minutes to take everything off your desk and clean it. Find a microfiber cloth to dust your computer and disinfect your keyboard, mouse and desk surface. After you give it a good wipe down, take some time to sort and organize what’s been taking over. Go through your files and choose what can stay and what needs to go. Find a home for those charging cords, stacks of papers, business cards, etc.! Having an organized desk will make your workday feel less stressful. Plus you’ll know where everything is when you need it.

2. Update your passwords

This sounds like a menial task, but it’s important to make sure your accounts are secure. Keeping your passwords updated helps keep your accounts safe. Hackers are real!

3. Clean up your inbox

You know that amazing feeling when there isn’t a number in parenthesis next to the “inbox” folder.  It’s probably been a while, hasn’t it? Set aside some time to go through all those unread emails you’ve been ignoring. Delete what you don’t need, sort through the messages cluttering your inbox into folders to get your email organized.

4.Set up coffee with a contact

Do you have someone you work with often? Ask them to coffee (it is, after all, the lifeblood of our industries). Fall is the perfect time to reconnect with your contacts. Besides building on a professional relationship, this is an opportunity to update them on projects you’re working on and vice versa.

5. Refill your wallet or purse with business cards

You’ve spent all summer socializing, networking and passing out those business cards. Now is the time restock your wallet or purse, especially if you’ve seen a promotion since the last time you loaded up.

6. Refresh your LinkedIn profile

Set aside some time to clean up your LinkedIn profile. Update your experiences with your current work. Don’t forget to swap out your photo for a fresh head shot too! It’s important to keep your LinkedIn current so your connections know what you’re up to.

7. Check in on your reading list

The cooler evenings make the perfect excuse to cuddle up on the couch with a good book. This is a good time to check in on that reading list you’ve been putting off and pick a book off the shelf.

8. Review and refresh

Take a look at how far your client’s organization has come since the last time you checked. Fall is a good time to refresh needs.

9. Brush up on your skills

Check out the calendars of professional networks in your area. Sign up for an upcoming networking event! 

Source: Franco

Prepare your Staff for Office Safety Hazards

No workplace is ever completely free of hazards, and an office is no exception.

The hazards may not be as obvious as they are on an industrial shop floor, but people can suffer serious injuries in an office environment.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has no single rule specific to office safety, but several regulations do apply. This article will highlight some of the common hazards.

1. Introduce the need to be prepared for emergencies

Being ready to handle an emergency is perhaps the most important part of an office safety program. When there’s a fire, severe weather, or some other emergency, you can rely on the written emergency action plan (EAP) to give you the instructions you need to stay safe.

Everyone in the office should know:

  • How to report fires, injuries, chemical spills, and other emergencies
  • How to recognize alarms and other warning signals
  • The evacuation route
  • Where to assemble after an evacuation
  • Where to take shelter from a storm
  • Who to ask for more information

2. Review your policies for using fire extinguishers

If everyone is to follow an EAP to evacuate in case of a fire, there’s no need for anyone to learn how to use fire extinguishers. Just because there’s a fire extinguisher in the office doesn’t mean you’re supposed to use it.

However, if some employees have been designated to use fire extinguishers, these employees must be provided with hands-on training in the use of the equipment. Even trained employees have to take precautions. Never try to fight a fire if:

  • A fire extinguisher isn’t readily accessible
  • You aren’t sure if the extinguisher is the right type for the fire
  • You aren’t sure how to use the extinguisher
  • The fire is already smoky, hot, or spreading rapidly
  • Your escape path is threatened or blocked

3. Emphasize the importance of reporting injuries and getting first aid and medical attention

Office workers may not have the same risk for serious injuries as factory workers do, but injuries can still occur. Report any injury right away. No injury is too minor to report.

When there’s no nearby hospital, clinic, or infirmary that can be used to treat injured employees, the employer must train persons to render first aid.

In many offices, however, the policy is to call for emergency responders (such as paramedics or EMTs) or to go to a nearby clinic in case of an injury.

4. Describe the hazards of bloodborne pathogens

There’s often blood involved with an injury. Blood can carry infectious microbes such as hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). OSHA’s bloodborne pathogens standard applies to all “occupational exposures” to blood or other potentially infectious materials. Employees who are designated by the employer to provide first aid (or to clean up equipment and surfaces contaminated with blood) are covered by the standard.

These employees use “universal precautions,” an approach to infection control where all human blood and certain body fluids are treated as if they were known to be infectious for bloodborne pathogens. Responders wearing rubber gloves and protective clothing is part of following such precautions.

5. Discuss slip, trip, and fall hazards

Slips, trips, and falls are some of the most common causes for serious office injuries. To avoid injuries:

  • Keep floors dry. Wipe up spills right away, and mop up tracked-in rain or slush at doorways.
  • Wear shoes with non-slip soles. Low heels provide more stability for walking than high heels do.
  • Walk carefully. Don’t run if you’re in a hurry.
  • Always watch where you’re going. Never carry materials that you can’t see over.
  • Keep areas will lit. Report burnt-out lights.
  • Keep aisles, stairs, and work areas clean and free of clutter. Store materials properly.
  • Keep file cabinet drawers closed.
  • Arrange furniture so no one will walk into sharp corners. Keep clear access to aisles and exits.
  • Don’t let electrical cords be tripping hazards. Tape them down securely if they must temporarily be run where people walk.
  • Report loose or damaged stair treads, handrails, or carpeting.
  • Don’t lean back in your chair or put your feet up. These actions can cause the chair to slide out from under you.
  • Always use a proper stepladder to reach materials on high shelves. Check the condition of the ladder before you use it. Stay off the top step, and don’t lean too far over to the side.

6. Describe safe-lifting procedures

Office workers aren’t immune from having to do manual lifting occasionally. Improper lifting is a common cause of injury. Try to use a cart or dolly to move items when you can. Get help to move heavy materials. When you need to manually lift materials:

  • Plan the lift. Know the object’s weight. Have a clear path and clear place to set the object down.
  • Position yourself squarely in front of the object.
  • Bend your knees and keep your back straight.
  • Get a full, firm grip with the object held close to your body.
  • Straighten your knees to lift the object. Keep your back straight.
  • Don’t twist your back as you carry the object.
  • Set down the load by bending your knees to lower it into position.

7. Explain electrical safety concerns

In an office, properly installed electrical equipment is guarded, or covered and insulated. Misuse and defective equipment can cause shocks and burns. To avoid electrical hazards:

  • Inspect portable electrical equipment before use. Look for defects such as loose parts, damaged or missing prongs on the plug, damaged insulation around the cord, and exposed bare wires. Remove damaged equipment from service. Repairs can only be made by qualified persons.
  • Don’t handle cords, plugs, or equipment with wet hands.
  • Keep cords clean and free from kinks.
  • Don’t raise or lower equipment by its cord.
  • Don’t pull on the cord to unplug equipment.
  • Don’t use staples to secure cords in place. This can damage the cord’s outer insulation.
  • Don’t use circuit breakers, fuses, or safety switches to repeatedly energize equipment; use the equipment’s control switches that are designed for regular use. If a circuit breaker trips repeatedly, report that there may be a problem with the circuit.

8. Discuss chemical hazards

There may be chemical hazards in an office. Cleaning products, inks, adhesives, etc., may be flammable or reactive. Using chemicals may lead to unhealthy exposures. OSHA’s hazard communication standard has requirements for container labels and safety data sheets (SDSs).

In an office, however, you may only be exposed to chemicals when you use various types of consumer products such as correction fluid or a cleaner for a dry erase board. OSHA’s standard doesn’t apply if you’re using a consumer product as it’s intended to be used by a consumer.

9. Emphasize the importance of reporting hazards

Hazards can only be addressed if they’re identified. If you notice a hazardous situation, report it right away. Be especially vigilant for hazards when you change equipment, materials, or procedures. Changes can introduce hazards.

SOURCE: THE BUSINESS JOURNALS

8 Tips for Transitioning into a New Job

Congratulations, you accept a new position! Now it’s time to make your move and settle in at your new job.

Finding your groove after landing a new position can be challenging. You’ve been granted a new and exciting opportunity to showcase your skills and experience, generate beneficial solutions, and navigate a new company. But getting there takes a bit more time than you’d expect.

Don’t sweat the small stuff — keep in mind your first 90 days are usually a transitional period for finding your footing. Here are eight tips for creating a smooth transition into your new employment endeavor:

1. Stay positive. Every career change comes with a variety of emotions. While you may be thrilled to take this next step in your career, transitioning into a new position is likely to come with a few obstacles. Whether you’re not quite fitting in as quickly as you’d hoped or maybe your typical work speed hasn’t got back up to par. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to keep your chin up and endure the change with a positive attitude. Showcasing your enthusiasm will likely draw in your co-workers and make initial interactions a bit smoother.

2. Find your routine. The average duration of unemployment is about eight months in the current job climate. For many, this means the breaking and remaking of a variety of routines. Returning to work might initially be a challenge in terms of finding your footing with your new tasks. Actively attempting to build and manage a routine will allow you to increase your efficiency and effectiveness, as well as create a sense of normality.

3. Immerse yourself in company culture. Fitting in at a new job often means observing the overall culture of the company and adapting. Since you were hired for the position, you probably expressed a variety of values that made you a good match for the company. Openly embrace the culture of your new company by making the office norms your new habits.

4. Take notes. Key in on your work environment by utilizing your senses. Take both physical and mental notes on what goes on around you. While you’re immersing yourself in the culture of the company, also familiarize yourself with some of the other norms. How does your boss react to certain things? What are problems you can provide solutions to? Take a “fly on the wall” mentality while you’re settling in to see how the company functions.

5. Set goals. Within the first few weeks on the job, make a point to establish some beneficial goals. Ask yourself what you must accomplish in your first three months, what you want to accomplish in the future, and how you plan to continually improve your efficiency. These are just a few questions to set you off in the right direction. Goal-setting techniques are important in every stage of your career.

6. Build relationships. The relationships you have with the people you work with can easily make or break your experience. Immediately forging relationships with your co-workers will also help you transition more smoothly. Step out of your comfort zone and attempt to interact with everyone you work with. Introduce yourself and always accept happy hour invitations. These are the individuals who are likely to be your networking connections for years to come.

7. Increase your participation. While you might still be nailing down your own duties, it’s also important to extend a hand when possible. If you know a co-worker could use your help tying up a few loose ends on a project, offer your services. This will provide you with a chance to work with someone new, as well as showcase your willingness and ability to work on a team.

8. Seek out mentorship. Sometimes the best way to familiarize yourself with your new position, as well as a company, is to seek out a mentor. After observing daily operations for a while, reach out to someone you admire within the company. Shoot them an email or stop by their office and share your interest in learning about — and from — their experiences.

It may take some time, but you will eventually settle into a comfortable routine at your new job.

SOURCE: BUSINESS INSIDER

How to Ask for a Raise

A Guide to Asking for and Getting the Raise You Deserve

Asking your manager for a raise can be nerve-wracking, so much so, that some people wait for months or even years before asking for a raise they deserve.

The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with asking for a raise that reflects the hard work that you do, but there are some approaches and best practices that will always get better results than others.

Even though your manager has data on the hard work you’ve been doing, you still need to present your case for why you deserve a raise and you need to be prepared to negotiate.

This guide will cover: preparing to ask for a raise, how/when to ask for and justify your raise, the right questions to ask, negotiating with your manager and recovering from an unsuccessful ask for a raise.  

How to Prepare

You should never ask for a raise without preparing for this conversation. No matter how good your relationship is with your manager, they will be expecting you to prove that you deserve the salary you’re asking for and won’t respond favorably if it seems like you did not prepare.

Before broaching the subject of a raise, always:

Build your Case: Look back to recent projects and periods of time where you went beyond what was expected and provided real value for your company. Always use specific performance data when possible.  

Know your Worth: Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth™ salary estimator gives you a clear idea of the raise you should be asking for, by giving you an objective figure to compare your current salary against.

Just enter your job title, location, years of experience, and a few other pieces of information to get a free, personalized estimate of what the market value of your skill set is. This way, you can both understand if you’re getting paid fairly and have a concrete number to bring to the table when it comes time to negotiate your salary.

When to Ask for a Raise

Picking the right time to ask for a raise is just as important for preparing for this discussion.

When picking a good time to ask for a raise, find out when your company’s fiscal budget planning takes place so you can be sure that you aren’t asking for the impossible.

A few great times to ask for a raise are:

Annual Performance Reviews: A natural time for this conversation may be at your annual performance review, when the topic of salary is not only timely, but often expected.

After Completing an Important Project: A great time to ask for a raise is after successfully completing an important project or showing excellent work.

When your Manager is Happy: Asking for a raise during of a stressful or hectic period will guarantee that your manager is short on time and patience. Wait to ask for a raise until the dust has settled and you have, once again, proven your worth.

What to Say to Get a Raise

After preparing your evidence for why you deserve a raise and choosing a good time to talk to your manager, it’s important to think about what you’re going to say during your raise conversation.

You don’t need to have a strict script, but you do need to be clear and specific in your delivery and it helps to have a few phrases up your sleeve to help guide the conversation.

Be clear

An easy way to begin a raise discussion is to say something like: “As I’m looking forward to working and growing with the company, I’d love to discuss my salary.” Or “I’m interested in discussing my salary, is now an appropriate time?”

Be specific

Mention your desired salary number and specifically outline how you came to this conclusion. Bring a copy of your Know Your Worth salary estimate.  Also, be clear about when you’d like your new desired salary to be effective, and any other details that are pertinent to your desired compensation.

How to Act

The way you act during a raise conversation is just as important as the tone of voice you use, so be sure that you balance confidence, graciousness and enthusiasm for the work you do.  

Be confident

How is an employer going to feel comfortable giving you a raise if you’re unsure yourself?

Express gratitude

Expressing gratitude and appreciation for what you currently have at the company is a gracious and professional preface to an ask for more money.

Express enthusiasm

Sharing excitement for your future goals, and for the future goals of the company, is a way to show you’re invested in doing your job well.

Source: Glassdoor