EXTON, PA — Oswald Building Services has announced its commitment to achieve Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC) STAR™ accreditation, the gold standard for prepared facilities. Under the guidance of GBAC, a Division of ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, Oswald Building Services will implement the most stringent protocols for cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention in its facility.
As the cleaning industry’s only outbreak prevention, response, and recovery accreditation, GBAC STAR™ helps organizations establish protocols and procedures, offers expert-led training, and assesses a facility’s readiness for biorisk situations. The program will verify that Oswald Building Services implements best practices to prepare for, respond to, and recover from outbreaks and pandemics.
“GBAC STAR accreditation empowers facility owners and managers to assure workers, customers and key stakeholders that they have proven systems in place to maintain clean and healthy environments,” said GBAC Executive Director Patricia Olinger. “By taking this important step to pursue GBAC STAR, Oswald Building Services will receive third-party validation that it follows strict protocols for biorisk situations, thereby demonstrating its preparedness and commitment to operating safely.”
To achieve GBAC STAR™ accreditation, Oswald Building Services will demonstrate compliance with the program’s 20 core elements, which range from standard operating procedures and risk assessment strategies to personal protective equipment and emergency preparedness and response measures. Learn more about GBAC STAR accreditation at www.gbac.org.
In early 2020, along with the implementation of worldwide social isolation measures, we published several articles in order to help our readers increase productivity and comfort in their home offices. After months of continued isolation, surveys show that more than 80% of professionals want to continue working from home even after quarantine ends. In addition, a good number of companies are similarly satisfied with current work practices, showing a high tendency to adopt this practice indefinitely, since the majority of companies observed that remote work was as or more productive than face-to-face work.
However, with respect to children and home studying during the pandemic, the result was not as positive. One of the main reasons for this difference is that it can be difficult to get students to concentrate and motivate themselves for a long time in front of screens. Lack of physical interaction with other children is also a contributing factor. Yet until the global situation improves, it is likely that the return to schools will continue to be postponed. With this situation in mind, we decided to share in this article a series of efficient strategies to transform study spaces at home into better spaces for learning.
How to rethink home study spaces for children and adolescents:
1. Create a specific physical space for the study. It is recommended to start by choosing and creating a study space in an area with plenty of natural light and suitable acoustic conditions. If there is more than one option, it is important that the child choose the one they like the most and help configure it. If you do not have a well-lit area, you can review our article with tips for lighting interior spaces for children.
2. Choose a table that has the right dimensions for the space and height of the child. There are many desk options available on the market, but it is also possible to design and manufacture an exclusive piece. A minimum width of 80 cm is recommended so that the arms can rest comfortably around a notebook or laptop, but if it is possible to have a width of 1.20 meters, the child will be able to move and reach their study objects more easily, and allow the use of larger screens. A table height of around 50 cm is recommended for preschool, around 60 cm for elementary school, and above 70 cm for the later years of school, although this dimension varies according to the height of each student. An example of a good desk design is MiniMe, a children’s table for young kids created by the architect Camila Thiesen.
3. Invest in a comfortable chair. Ergonomics is essential. For younger children, make sure that the measurements match their specific height and needs. A seat height of between 25 and 30 cm is recommended for preschool, between 35 and 40 cm for elementary school, and above 40 cm for the later years of school, although ideal height will vary depending on the user. A chair with adjustable heights can effectively adapt to the growth of the user or allow it to be used by different people in the house.
4. Organize the study environment. It is scientifically proven that the physical organization of an environment is directly conducive to the internal and emotional organization of the children themselves. In addition to incorporating storage spaces for books and other materials, it could be useful to incorporate a calendar with a class schedule, for example, located at the student’s eye level. If the child cannot read and write yet, symbols or photographs should be used. Magnetic whiteboards, pegboards, or cork boards can also be useful for jotting down and saving ideas.
5. Adapt the space to other common areas. If the study space is not in a closed and independent environment (it can be in a common area, such as in the kitchen or in the living room, for example), partitions and other adaptable screens can be used to avoid visual and acoustic interference during lessons. Mobile, translucent, or flexible solutions can greatly increase comfort when studying. Curtains, for example, are an effective and relatively low-cost option.
6. Encourage the autonomy of children, leaving study materials within their reach (for example, on low shelves) so that it can be consulted even during leisure hours. More relaxed and comfortable environments can also be accommodated for homework or reading outside of class hours, using poufs, stools, rugs, and low tables.
7. Consider the coatings and colors that already exist in the environment so that the new study area does not visually interfere and is instead a contribution to space. It is important to choose colors that are to the liking of each child, making them feel happy and motivated in their environment, incorporating also other elements relating to their personal interests. To help guide this process, there exist certain universal guidelines for handling colors:
Blue: contributes to productivity – is considered calm and stable.
Green: according to experts, green inspires tranquility, delaying eye fatigue and general exhaustion.
Yellow: can be a good option for children as it is a cheerful color, inspiring optimism and creativity.
8. Differentiate the study space from the play space. Play is recognized as effective for educating children during early growth, so encouraging fun breaks between classes is healthy. If possible, however, it is recommended that play is relegated to a different space so as not to mix activities, allowing children to clear their minds once each play or class session is over. If well thought out, it is possible to transform or adapt the study space for other activities on weekends or holidays.
For roughly the past decade, experts in the technology industry have been using the term “exponential technology.” The phenomenon refers to both the rapid improvements in cost and performance—the power of a computer chip, for example, doubles nearly every 18 months—and the exponential rate of adoption among users. To exemplify the latter, consider the integration of phones into our day to day lives. When the landline was invented, it took 75 years to gain 50 million users. In contrast, mobile phones reached the 50-million-user mark in just 12 years.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated an already accelerated rate of tech-adoption in the hotel industry. Smart capacities and services that were previously considered add-ons to the guest experience will quickly become requirements in the post-pandemic hospitality space. The health and safety risks of the virus combined with travel restrictions and the economic downturn have forced every hotelier into immediate action. Those that make the right investments and leverage digital technologies to improve and elevate their guest offerings will be in the best position to survive through the pandemic and thrive in its wake.
Digital Labor As First Line Defense
Smart technology has the capacity to enable and empower an overcoming of the barriers that hoteliers are currently facing as they try to navigate the influx of COVID-related complications. A major short term focus has been flood in booking that’s resulted from guest cancelations or deferred stays. Investing in integrated online booking platforms that help to supplement staff efforts and create a seamless, personalized experience is the best way to ensure the guest has a positive brand experience—one they stand a chance of remembering when travel restrictions lift.
The same integrated booking and check-in technology can be applied across all aspects of a guest’s stay. Hoteliers are using app platforms to track spaces used by guests and ensure a thorough sanitation before their next use. Further, app platforms can promote a two-way conversation—management can see where guests have been and guests can receive notifications when their room has been cleaned, with specific details regarding sanitation practices available at their fingertips.
Integrated app platforms can help guests order room service or a morning coffee, reserve a spot out on the pool deck or communicate virtually with a staff member for instant assistance. And just as they can streamline guest operations, smart technology can elevate the capacity of a staff. Cloud-based software can help behind-the-counter functions, allowing staff and management to streamline operations, coordinate housekeeping, and communicate effectively behind the scenes. Investments in these kinds of digital services will help hoteliers deliver a differentiated guest experience.
Rethinking Loyalty & Reward
As the travel habits of the masses are being reconsidered, customer loyalty programs are due for an upgrade. This is another area where hospitality professionals are investing in technology, and smart solutions are set to become a part of the new normal.
Reward programs are meant to incentivize returning business without alienating first-time customers, or overemphasizing the different levels of guest perks. In the past, mobile check-ins were generally reserved for loyalty reward members. Now, that technology can help achieve the aims of the reward program with more tailored offerings, and more appropriate subtly.
A personalized guest app can offer different levels of accommodation. Rewards members could see choice reservation spaces for the poolside, access different internet speeds, and receive early notifications of limited spa offerings. Their choices and preferences could be logged as data and shared with the staff to help personalize their next stay. As they accumulate ‘rewards’, they could see alternate room pricing through the app, and they could log their preferences for all upcoming stays. The data gathered can also help hoteliers understand which of their offerings are seeing the most success, helping them adapt to meet the needs of similar high-tier guests.
A New Sense of Security
Wearable technology has gained in popularity as a way to monitor guest activity, manage contact tracing, and help control the spread of the virus. The resulting data also offers valuable feedback for consumer analysis. But with this powerful access comes great responsibility, and cyber security is a lesser-known but worthy place of investment.
The more that guests are able to be tracked and recognized, the more they deserve to know their data is safe. Most hotel owners have invested in physical safety—enhanced sanitation practices, hands-free technology, and design layouts that promote social distancing. But cyber security is an equally urgent priority. Security practices that safeguard customer data need to comply with local, federal, and industry-specific regulations. Guests deserve a thorough understanding of how their data is being used. App platforms should have a section detailing which guest operations remain completely private, the rules and regulations regarding the use or sale of customer data, and the consequences that apply if any rules are breached.
Without minimizing the depth of devastation, the COVID-19 crisis is sure to leave innovation in its wake. Accelerated adoption of technology will transform the hotel sector at a rate even more extreme than once predicted. Smart tech will offer benefits to customers and staff alike, elevating the guest experience and making new levels of personalized hospitality possible. With creativity, capital, and safety above all else, hoteliers can emerge from this crisis with a new, improved, and irresistible standard of care.
Zain Jaffer is the founder and CEO of investment firm Zain Ventures.