We all want to return to normal, and this useful research will help you manage some of the common safety concerns before you reopen your business.
Stores are starting to reopen, business are following COVID-19 cleaning guidelines and schools are finding ways to safely bring kids back into the classroom -- and it's all making us think differently about how we manage the risks, the way we clean surfaces and the equipment we use. It's a new world, but one that is making safety the utmost priority.
That said, there's always going to be a dollop of apprehension about going back to work, but one of the best things we can all do to manage these risks and worries is practise safe hygiene and keep our common spaces healthy. Whether that means engaging in some routine cleaning, government-approved disinfecting efforts, hiring a specialist coronavirus cleaning service or letting everyone that enters your premises know what your office cleaning practices are, you need the basics in place: the right equipment, a solid plan and the right team.
To help you with that, we've created an office cleaning checklist that will help you gather the right materials for your everyday routine, work off a thorough cleaning plan and give your team safe practises to keep in mind at all times, and it starts with this essential Covid-19 cleaning guide:
Adopt the right office cleaning process
When news of the coronavirus first broke, the lockdown began and the message "stay safe" began to become a part of everyday life, everyone's reaction was to “disinfect everything,” which made total sense, but in everyday situations, Public Health England recommends cleaning as well as disinfecting -- and here's the difference:
• Cleaning is for routine health and wellness. Wiping down your surfaces with a green cleaning product or a simple soap-and-water solution can make them drastically safer by removing dust and dirt, while also removing harmful germs with either a paper towel or cloth and then safely remove them.
• Disinfection, on the other hand, uses chemicals to kill germs. This is extremely important right now, especially if your business sees people coming and going from your premises because people can carry this contagious virus for days before any symptoms show up. As such, we strongly recommend regular cleaning routines coupled up with the thorough disinfection of your common business spaces. Clean first, and then disinfect.
Stock up on the right cleaning tools
Whether you're doing a routine clean, a deep clean or a thorough disinfection job, there are a few items that you'll want to have at hand at all times:
Nitrile gloves (*latex is also recommended but they can cause allergic reactions in some people)
Paper towels you can safely throw away (or or microfibre cloths if you can wash and sanitise them after each use)
An eco-friendly cleaning spray
Disinfecting wipes, spray or a bleach solution that has been diluted according to the manufacturers instructions.
Thick bin bags
Medically-approved respirator masks and protective gowns for anyone on your team tasked with disinfecting an area.
Establish an office health and safety plan
One of the most effective and important things to do before opening your doors is create a cleaning routine that will minimise any risks, especially in high-touch areas. So, first off, assess your work space, make a note of how much traffic goes through certain areas and look at the ways in which each space is used. By making an inventory of this kind, you will find ways to improve safe working conditions as well as develop your cleaning plan. Once you've done that, go through your office one space at a time and make a note of any and all high-touch areas in each space, such as:
• Tables and desks • Countertops • Chair-backs • Doorknobs • Light switches • Drawer and cabinet pulls and handles
Other high touch areas to consider in your office spaces are: Front desk and reception areas • Phones, computer mice and keyboards • Desk accessories (such as staplers, tape dispensers and pen-cups) • Digital touchscreens • Lift buttons • Coat-racks and hangers
Kitchen and break rooms • Appliance handles and controls (fridge, toaster, oven, dishwasher etc) • Fixtures • Chair-backs at seating areas • Coffee station and coffee/tea service items
Bathrooms • Bathroom fixtures (toilet handles, taps, soap and towel dispensers) • Bins • Door and stall handles • Changing stations and convenience item dispensers
Conference and meeting rooms • Tech controls (such as speakerphone buttons, TV remotes etc) • Televisions, touchscreens, fax machines, printers and projectors • Whiteboard accessories (such as pens and erasers)
Develop an office cleaning strategy
The best way to maintain the safety and hygiene of your work spaces -- and the health of your colleagues, clients and staff -- is to develop a regular cleaning / disinfection schedule that everyone must follow.
Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all cleaning routine that we can recommend, but a daily system of cleaning high-touch areas, sanitising all surfaces and performing regular deep cleans of upholstery and carpets will go a long way toward creating a healthy environment.
Enhancing your office cleaning routine
With so much uncertainty still surrounding Covid-19, and the way it can spread so easily, there may be times you will need to increase, enhance or change your normal cleaning and disinfection routines. It could be that there's been a local outbreak of people showing symptoms, the peak season for influenza, the beginning of the school year (when common colds spread like wildfire), large-scale events in the office or a staff member has begun showing symptoms -- whatever the case, don't be afraid to step up your cleaning efforts or call in a professional cleaning service.
Dusting is just as important
With so much attention on high-touch areas, it's easy to focus your plan on sanitising these areas, but dust can also be a vector for illnesses like COVID-19, common colds and the flu. This is because airborne diseases are able to hitch a ride on dust particles and aerosolised moisture, allowing them to spread much faster than normal. Not only will regular dusting reducing the spread of viruses, but it will also improve the air quality in your premises can make breathing easier for those with dust allergies, asthma and other respiratory issues.
Promoting good office hygiene
Given how quickly everyone started practising social distancing, it shouldn't be too tricky to get your team on board with your new office hygiene policies, so long as you encourage your staff to keep up these healthy habits once things start to settle into the new normal. To do this, try and:
Encouraging good hand-washing and respiratory hygiene protocols within your work spaces.
Consciously create an office culture where it is okay for your employees to work from home where possible.
Keep your supplies stocked and readily available with everything clearly labelled.
Place wipes, sanitiser, paper towels and bins around your premises, especially any high-traffic areas
Get your staff to make a proactive effort to help keep hygiene levels high by regularly wiping down surfaces they've used, making recommendations on where you can improve your efforts and making a note of supply levels
Create a channel for your cleaning routines and service requests to be registered, either with a ticketing system or just an email with a dedicated manager.
The other thing that is definitely worth considering right now is automatic and contactless upgrades that will help reduce any unnecessary contact and protect your employees and customers even more, such as motion-detecting lights, automatic sliding doors, towel and soap dispensers with sensors and automatic hand dryers.
Keep these good and safe things going
The most import thing you can do right now is create a cleaning plan that covers all the necessary areas of your business and promotes safe and hygienic working environment. Once you've done that, the next best thing you can do is make these healthy practises part of your company ethos and build a health and wellbeing culture within your office, and the reasons they're so important.
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