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ISS China on reopening and the new normal in the workplace

As countries across the world begin to lift restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are researching how to successfully welcome employees back to work in a safe and healthy fashion. At ISS, we have the advantage of the opportunity to learn from our global colleagues who have taken on the task of helping their customers re-open and learn from their experiences. 

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We (virtually) sat down with ISS China Country Manager Cindy Wang to discuss their process for welcoming customers and employees back to the workplace after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. Read on for insight into the ISS China team’s adventure back into the workplace alongside colleagues, suppliers, clients and clients’ employees.

Concerns from customers and end users about re-entering the workplace 

ISS China’s customers and end users have the same concerns as many of us have. They need to feel safe in the workplace among colleagues and visitors in the building. 

To feel safe, ISS customers in China wanted to feel certain that basic preventive measures were in place that would be keep the workplace safe and healthy. These measures included detection of germs and illnesses, the process of disinfection and sanitization and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). 

Another concern Cindy mentioned was that their customers wanted to be sure that there was a way to track and respond to suspected and confirmed cases in a building or site.  

Customers’ approach to re-opening safely 

ISS China is seen as advisors to their customers because they offer suggestions on how to ensure that their buildings re-open safely. Most of their customers have done gradual re-opening and have only allowed a limited percentage of employees back in the workplace at a certain time. This was partly driven by government regulations. In addition, customers have stepped up their prevention measures with the support and guidance of their ISS teams. 

Customers from different industry segments adjusted how they would control the people flow and isolation of cases in their buildings. For example, one aviation customer built corridors from incoming flights to the exit that are disinfected each time passengers use them. Another example is in the hospitals, where certain wings were isolated to care for COVID-19 patients only. 

As customers and end users have come to terms with the new health, safety and wellness requirements, the ISS China team has slowly helped them bring back more end users into the facilities. They now have approximately 70% of end users back on site. 
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“ISS employee training has been critical to ensure our service delivery on both routine and COVID-19 customer needs.”

Cindy Wang, ISS China Country Manager
ISS China’s response to helping customers back into the workplace 

After understanding the concerns and re-opening processes of customers and end users, the ISS team in China had focused on the service delivery process and understood what needed to change or be adjusted to successfully help customers re-open their sites. 

ISS China’s response to helping customers get back into the workplace included three primary challenges – the processes in place for all office touchpoints, PPE and materials and daily tracking of cases. 

Touchpoints 

At ISS, we focus on a site user’s journey through the workplace; we identify several common touchpoints users have throughout the workday. ISS team members are trained to focus on creating the ideal workplace experience with recommended services and actions for each touchpoint. Examples of ISS touchpoints include entering the building, checking in at the reception desk, getting coffee, picking up lunch and visiting the restroom. All these touchpoints affect how the employees react and feel about the workplace. As COVID-19 has evolved, our teams across the world like ISS China have had to re-evaluate the workplace journey to ensure they have the right processes in place to keep our people and customers’ employees safe. 

For ISS China, this meant understanding the temperature control upon entering the building, the disinfection of frequently touched surfaces, cleaning and disabling of heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment and the proper routine disinfecting of elevators and stairwells. 

PPE and materials 

ISS China and its partners worked diligently to source appropriate PPE before re-opening. They assumed equipment and material such as face masks would be difficult to source in the right quality if they waited too long. 

Tracking of cases 

While customers were initiating their own procedures to track suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the workplace, ISS China had been taking extra precautions by performing daily check-ins with all employees and sites about potential and confirmed cases. On a daily basis, they send out a survey to all ISS employees and sites to track suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases to be able to quickly notify customers and perform the necessary quarantine and isolation measures. 

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Factors for a successful re-opening 

When asked what a critical success factor in the re-opening process had been, Cindy said, “ISS employee training has been critical to ensure our service delivery on both routine and COVID-19 customer needs.” 

With so many unknowns, the training of ISS employees had to be adjusted to abide by government and health organizations’ regulations and guidelines. By offering our workforce specialized training and education, they have been able to consistently deliver top-tier service. 

Learning the new normal together 

As countries around the world begin easing restrictions, many companies will be forced to make difficult discussions around the re-opening process and safely welcoming their workforce back to the office. At ISS, we take pride in knowing we have colleagues and resources across the globe that we can lean on for guidance. We appreciate ISS China Country Manager Cindy Wang for taking the time to share her story with our operators and leaders. We all want the same thing – to get to a point where we can safely come together in a place that connects us. 

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