Workplace cleanliness is more important now than ever, and effective cleaning and decontamination are vital when it comes to reassuring employees that the workplace is safe and secure. A lot of employees are feeling a certain sense of anxiety about returning to a physical workplace, which is completely understandable given the COVID-19 crisis.
Over the past few months, there has been a gradual increase in the number of employees returning to the physical workplace, after months of working from home. This return means that there needs to be a back-to-work process in place, particularly when it comes to ensuring that employees feel confident that their workplace is deemed Covid secure. Extra precautions should be taken to provide everyone with a clean and safe workplace and that this has been properly communicated.
By now, we are all more aware of the ways in which COVID-19 can spread, meaning that a clean and hygienic workplace is one of the most important factors for giving employees the confidence to return to the workplace. Here are some ways that you can maintain confidence in your workplace following the COVID-19 outbreak.
Steps That Individuals Can Take
There are steps that you can take to ensure that your workplace is a safe and clean environment before your employees return to work fully. Whilst most companies are looking to hire specialist cleaning services for one-off, deep cleans to ensure that the workplace is safe, this isn’t compulsory and a lot of cleaning jobs can be done yourself.
To provide a thorough and effective clean, wipe all surfaces down with a neutral cleaning solution, such as soapy, warm water, to firstly remove any dust and dirt. Then, use a disinfectant. You need to ensure that it is one which is certified to be effective in cleaning coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV2 and follow the manufacturer’s instructions at all times. Whilst there are many cleaning products available, some can cause more harm than good, so be sure to check this thoroughly before applying.
You also need to ensure that regular cleaning takes place during the day, especially on high-touch points around the workplace. Transmissible viruses, such as Covid, can remain on hard surfaces for anything up to 72 hours, so it is important that areas such as desks, light switches, door handles, keyboards and touch screens are cleaned multiple times a day.
Protocols and Risk Management
Confidence is key for your employees. They need to have confidence that you, as their employer, are ensuring that they are kept safe whilst they are at work. Of course, different workplaces require different levels of cleaning and maintenance, for example, a food production warehouse will have far tougher measures than an office. Where there is a risk of infection, whether it be on people entering the workplace or being unable to socially distance, additional precautions must be taken.
If it isn’t possible to maintain social distancing, then there are some practical things you can do to lower the risk of infection. These include:
- Stagger starting and finishing times
- Reduce the number of people each employee has contact with, perhaps using a “bubble” or partnering system
- Consider whether certain tasks are essential in order for your business to operate
- Use dividers or screens to separate employees
Good personal hygiene is also vital when it comes to reducing the spread. Frequent hand washing is the best way to reduce the risk of transmission, so make sure that your employees know to wash their hands frequently during the day with soap and warm water. Whilst hand sanitisers are good for quick and easy cleaning, it’s best to have no-touch sanitiser stations around the workplace, with hand sanitiser containing no less than 70% ethanol.
You need to ensure that, when returning to the workplace, it is adequately set up to comply with social distancing guidance. You may need to invest in protective equipment, such as screens, face masks or visors and, due to increased demand, these can be tricky to get hold of in large quantities. You may need to move desks, set up one-way systems and invest in sanitiser stands so that there is a lower risk of transmission.
Maintaining office cleanliness is a job meant for everyone in the workplace, but as an employer in the current climate, the main tasks are down to you in order to ensure that your employees feel safe. Developing these habits early on in the return to work process will make it easier for all involved and is likely to initiate cleaning and hygiene habits and processes for all employees.