Now more than ever, there is an inexorable link between clean offices and employee safety. The CDC recently issued a guide on how to clean and disinfect everything from floors to commonly touched surfaces, electronics and uniforms. Cleanliness and tidiness in offices is about so much more than keeping infection rates down, however, with numerous studies showing that these aspects affect work productivity in measurable ways. One study published in the journal PLoS Biology (by S Baldassi and colleagues), for instance, found that cluttered surroundings lead to high-confidence errors. “If people find themselves in a chaotic, confusing environment, they may decide about some aspect of the situation and be totally wrong even though they have full confidence in their decision,” reported the scientists. If you manage an office, what are signs you may require a more strategic approach to cleaning, and how can doing so benefit your employees?
Clutter Increases Error Rates
Research undertaken by R Mateo and colleagues at the University of Navarra in Spain showed that even conscientious people commit more errors when they work in a physically messy environment. The researchers concluded that working in an untidy environment can increase anxiety and distract workers, making it harder to process information. Tidiness, on the other hand, can promote a greater sense of comfort and enable productive workers to perform at a level of accuracy that characterizes their conscientious personality traits.
Cleanliness And Tidiness Are Not The Same
When analyzing what changes, if any, your office needs, it is important to differentiate between clutter (untidiness) and a lack of cleanliness. Clutter is easier to identify; it arises when desks are messy, there is too much furniture or equipment standing in the way of clear passage in hallways and between workspaces, and when trips and falls arise from messy wires and cables. Office dirt, however, can be hidden. For instance, germs can be located on items that look clean – including faucet handles, mouses and keyboards, staff refrigerators, non-automated soap dispensers, and the like. Clearing an office space of clutter involves ridding common spaces of unnecessary furniture, insisting that staff keep tidy work desks, and ensuring that all cables are firmly affixed to walls or kept in cable holders. Cleanliness, meanwhile, can be guaranteed by hiring a professional team that sticks to a regular cleaning schedule and uses optimal cleaning materials.
Green Cleaning Is Best
The EPA warns that the air quality indoors is often two to five times worse than it is outside. Poor air quality can cause a host of problems among employees, including headaches, allergies, and respiratory problems. Research undertaken by scientists at the University of California – Los Angeles has found that workers reported fewer headaches and allergies and took less sick days off after switching from chemical to non-toxic/green chemical products. Powerful steam cleaners are another excellent alternative to the use of bleach and other harsh products that can lead to a wide array of symptoms. There are also many chemical-free cleaners for surfaces and floors; these are made with ingredients such as essential oils and chemical-free, low-grade acids.
Achieving the most from your team involves a multifaceted approach that ranges from working hours to the corporate culture you create. Cleanliness and tidiness affect nearly all aspects of work, as they affect performance and safety. In order to make the most of an uncluttered, hygienic workspace, consider redesigning your spaces if necessary, and invest in professional cleaners who regularly eliminate unseen dirt, bacteria and viruses.