When choosing surfaces for your workplace, whether it’s for office desks or canteens, the ongoing pandemic has brought a set of further considerations every facility manager will need to keep in mind. What should you be looking out for, and which surfaces fare the best? In this article, Geaves run through two main factors to consider when it comes to surfaces: cost-effectiveness and hygiene.

Cost-Effectiveness

Over the lockdown period, offices, shops and other non-essential spaces were asked to be closed to help contain the virus at the height of the pandemic. During this time several financial considerations have needed to be taken into account, and this may well include adjusting
budgets for facilities. Adjustments may need to be made, for example, to cleaning budgets – is it more cost effective to hire someone in-house or outsource the service to free up hiring and recruitment costs?

It’s therefore vital that your surfaces are cost-effective, in terms of long term maintenance and the cost of the material itself.  With more stringent cleaning measures in place due to Covid-19, will your surfaces be able to hold up to more contact with cleaning agents? Can you afford to keep replacing them, especially if the surface is in a high-traffic space such as a communal area already?

Hygiene
A survey of office workers found that over half of employees’ biggest worries about returning to offices was the cleanliness of the office. Of course, introducing regular cleaning and stepping up hygiene practices in the workplace is key to a Covid-secure environment. However, some surfaces by design are less hygienic than others due to being porous. This means that they allow for moisture inside, which can harbour bacteria and germs, no matter how much you clean them. When choosing a surface, ensure that it is non-porous instead. Ramped up cleaning will also wear out the surface due to its porous nature that will allow cleaning agents to enter.

Options to Consider
So now that we understand why cost-effectiveness and hygiene are vital for creating a Covid-secure space, let’s explore the various options we have based on these factors.

Option One: Granite
If you are looking for a surface that reflects more luxury branding, then granite may well be an option to consider. It is non-porous, meaning moisture will not enter it whilst you are cleaning, and bacteria shouldn’t harbour inside. It is also highly durable and long-lasting, meaning that you will probably not need to replace this as often as other weaker surfaces. A downside to this, however, is the price. The cost of granite surfaces is approximately around £40-180 per square meter. If you are willing to invest in granite for its long term maintenance properties, then it definitely serves its purpose as a cost-effective choice.

Option Two: Wooden Surfaces
Wooden surfaces are a widely popular choice due to how easily available they are. Ranging from £48-79 per square foot, its affordability is a huge bonus. But are you getting your money’s worth in the long-term? Due to its porous nature, liquid can penetrate into the wood, causing it to wilt. Wood is also prone to chipping, which means you may have to replace them more often than other surfaces out there.
When it comes to Covid-secure surfaces, the porous nature of wooden surfaces is yet again another drawback – although regular cleaning may take care of bacteria on the surface, its porous properties mean that any amount of cleaning isn’t likely to reach the bacteria that
gathers deep inside it.

Option Three: Laminate Sheets
Laminate sheets, a man-made surface which is created by binding layers of resin together, is also a viable option for a Covid-safe space. In terms of cost-effectiveness, laminates are a lower-budget option and come to around £20-28 per square foot. The top layer of a high
pressure laminate sheet can be customisable to your branding and decor tastes – so if you’re looking for a marble finish without the premium price tag, laminate sheets can fulfil that aesthetic without breaking the bank. Finally, it also boasts good resistance to heat, making it ideal for spaces such as canteens or worktops.

Hygiene-wise, it’s also non-porous, allowing you to clean it without causing damage to its appearance, as well as stopping bacteria from collecting inside the surface.

Option Four: Quartz
Compared to other natural stones, quartz has excellent properties that would be suited to kitchen areas. It will hold up against oil spills and corrosive materials, as well as being a highly durable and non-porous surface. However, due to a lack of supply and high demand, quartz surfaces tend to be on the expensive side, ranging from £50-100 per square foot.

Option Five: Steel
Steel, which begins at an average of around £44 per square foot might be a more budget-friendly alternative to the above. Areas such as kitchens and food preparation spaces would benefit from its non-porous properties, and also due to the fact that it is highly heat resistant. It also holds up to corrosion well, making it suitable for factories.

Final Thoughts
When it comes to surfaces, don’t be tempted to cut corners when it comes to cost or hygiene. With facilities budgets being slashed and cleaning processes becoming more stricter, ensure that you are getting the best value for money as well as investing in a hygienic surface that will keep your visitors or employees safe.