Office chairs and fabric surfaces: have you considered what could be on them?
With workers returning to offices, in some cases for the first time in years, have you thought about what might be awaiting your staff’s return in the fabrics that are furnishing in your office?
Research from The Freespace Index shows that on Tuesday 8th March, 93% of offices in the UK were open and, across London, 88% were open. The figures also show that the average office occupancy in the UK had reached levels not seen since autumn 2021.
With everyone heading back to the office, now is the time to ensure that workplaces are clean and safe for employees to return to their desks. When it comes to office chairs, in some cases it might have been two years since they were used regularly, but upholstered furniture absorbs oils, dust, spillages, fur, allergens, and a host of other things on a daily basis so would undoubtedly benefit from some attention.
Why is it important to keep office upholstery clean?
1. Keep employees safe and well
On average, UK workers spend between four and nine hours a day at their desk – and if that means sitting on a chair that hasn’t been cleaned in a while, it could mean exposing employees to health complaints caused by dust mites.
The dust trapped in the fabrics can cause dust mites, and a study of dust mite allergens in the office environment found that office chairs ‘were the primary location where dust mites thrived’, with chairs and upholstered furniture having the potential to house thousands of dust mites.
Ongoing exposure to dust mites can be a trigger for people with allergies and asthma, impacting the health of employees: from mild cases such as watery eyes and sneezing, to severe cases such as persistent coughing or even an asthma attack.
2. The workplace reflects a company’s values
Maintaining high standards of cleanliness and hygiene can indicate to clients, business partners, and employees a company’s broader attention to detail.
An environment that is well-presented also serves as a potential opportunity to differentiate a company from their competitors, attracting prospective customers.
Employees too, are looking for environments which not only allow them to carry out their roles effectively and keep them safe from health risks, but which are also always beautifully presented. Clean, hygienic offices can help employees feel more engaged and productive, and demonstrate the employer’s commitment to staff wellbeing.
3. A contribution to sustainability efforts
Assuming the mechanics of the chair continue to operate correctly, and the chair is still comfortable for the end user, keeping the fabric clean and free of dust and grime can prolong the lifespan of the chair.
Through regular cleaning and maintenance, office chairs can last a long time, whereas they have often been treated as short term disposable items. According to figures from WRAP (Waste and Resource Action Programme) in their ‘Benefits of Reuse: A Case Study of Office Furniture’ study, the refurbishment or repair of an office chair can reduce its carbon footprint by 45%.
Considerations when cleaning and maintaining office chairs
Running a vacuum over the chair on a regular basis is a good way to remove loose dirt, dust and debris.
Ideally any stains should be dealt with straight away, as the longer they’re left, the harder they can be to deal with.
The most effective method of cleaning will depend on the fabric of the chair. In order to protect the fabric, specific instruction on the furniture should be followed, in addition to testing a small area first.
Consider the timeframe for cleaning chairs: if using water-based cleaning products, how long will they take to dry? Nobody wants to sit on a damp chair, so take into account when employees will next need to use their chairs.
At Tudor Group, we provide a comprehensive cleaning service, ranging from standard scheduled cleaning to deep cleaning, maintenance duties and specialist cleaning. Options are tailored to specific customer requirements, and a recent project for Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) involved us cleaning 170 office chairs at TfGM’s head office over a two-day programme, led by Sue Norman, our Operations Manager.
A clean and well-maintained office chair can be viewed as part of an overall investment in employees’ wellbeing, keeping staff healthy, boosting productivity, and reflecting a company’s broader values.
To find out more about some of our recent projects, or to talk to use about your specific requirements, get in touch on 0161 789 3550 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.