Workplace cleanliness: How To Handle The post-isolation working environment

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There is little doubt that the global pandemic has changed people’s perspectives on life. The economy has taken a big hit, people are much more cautious about meeting others and conscious about what they do and touch.  Perhaps, most frightening of all is the way in which governments have moved from a promise of international cooperation to finding ways to stockpile vaccines and look after their own citizens first.

One thing is certain, life will resume post-pandemic but our everyday environments are likely to have changed permanently. For example, cafés and restaurants will be implementing social distancing for the foreseeable future as people struggle to feel comfortable in close proximity to others.

The good news is that businesses will adapt and, despite the scary statistics, life will continue. The key to successfully re-opening your business and ensuring your staff feel comfortable is to think about workplace cleanliness post isolation.

 

Outside Contractors

It seems likely that most businesses will now switch to use outside contractors for their cleaning needs. This will help to ensure all staff are properly trained and, more importantly, staff absences can be easily covered and dealt with.

Employees will be less comfortable with missing cleaning staff or areas of the workplace that are not cleaned and maintained properly.  In short, outside contractors are likely to make staff feel safer which increases their productivity and loyalty.

 

The Right Facilities

Another key element of workplace cleanliness after periods of isolation is the need for proper supplies to be available. This means using a reputable supplier of sanitation supplies and even sanitary bins Sydney. It will be essential that the toilets are properly stocked with sanitary bins, standard bins, toilet paper, soap, and sanitizers. This will be essential if you want your staff to feel safe.

In addition, there will need to be plenty of sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, and other cleaning aids available in the workplace. This ensures all staff can wipe desks, machines, and even phones before using them.

Remember, you need your employees to feel comfortable and safe. Ensuring they have the tools available to achieve this will help you to retain your existing staff. This is particularly important post-isolation when you will need to be focusing on sales and rebuilding your damaged business. The last thing you need is to deal with a high staff turnover rate.

 

Personal Involvement

Staff will have always noticed the cleanliness levels of the workplace but, in many cases, they will have overlooked small details. They may even have felt it wasn’t worth their time to get involved. However, post-isolation this will change as people are more aware of the risks that surround them. This will prompt them to tell you and others about any issues that they see.

You need to encourage workplace dialogue. All staff should feel comfortable talking about their cleanliness concerns, allowing you to address them and resolve issues for your staff. There are several ways you can do this, including having an open-door policy that allows your staff to see you at any time and share concerns.

If you don’t feel this is appropriate then you can have a designated member of staff that all other staff tell about issues. They will then deal directly with you weekly. It is even possible to have an anonymous box for suggestions.

However, the most important part of this is ensuring that something gets done about every concern. This doesn’t mean you need to purchase huge amounts of additional cleaning and safety supplies. There are various ways of addressing staff concerns. The key is that they are addressed and that your staff know the solution that has been proposed.

In a post-isolation world, it is vital that you retain your existing staff. Not only is it time-consuming to replace them, but it is also likely to be more difficult to satisfy the cleanliness requirements of new staff as they will be specified before they start working with you.

 

Education

What may amaze some people is the lack of consideration a minority of staff will have. While most people will be extra aware of cleanliness post-isolation, there are still some that simply don’t care. In some ways, this is a good thing as they are easier to keep happy.

However, they are also more likely to spread any infection, including COVID-19. For this reason, it is essential that all staff are educated regarding the risks associated with spreading disease and how cleanliness is vital to protect each other.

You will need to devise a training course and ensure that all staff members attend the course to understand and comply with your new procedures. If you don’t educate the staff they will continue to do things the way they please and, you will find the ones that don’t care antagonize the rest of the staff.

That is a tension you don’t need in the workplace.

 

Adjusting Shifts

Businesses will struggle to balance the needs of the business with staff needs. In order for staff to feel safe, it may be necessary to look at revising the times the workplace is open and create shifts. This will reduce the number of people in the workplace at any one time. In turn, this will make staff feel more comfortable and reduce the risk of spreading disease.

However, this will also reduce staff contact which can affect morale. You will also need to be certain that the shifts are allocated fairly to ensure all staff remain happy. Don’t forget to explain why this is necessary in a post-isolation world.

 

Damp Cloths Are Great!

We’ve talked about having the right supplies available to ensure that people can keep their own workspace clean and feel comfortable. However, while antibacterial sprays and sanitizers do have a role to play. It is worth noting that experts recommend a damp cloth when cleaning your smartphone or computer screen.

Antibacterial sprays are effective at killing germs but they leave a blank surface, that is easier for more germs to arrive and rest on. A damp cloth is actually a more effective way of cleaning these devices.

 

Dedicated Lunch Breaks

In the past, it was common for many employees to eat their lunch at their desk, or even to snack through the day. While this does increase the comfort level and potentially productivity, it is not a luxury that can be accommodated in a post-isolation world.

Eating at your desk means dropping crumbs. These will end up on and under all your items of equipment and will attract bacteria. They can even be appealing to pests such as mice, rats, and cockroaches. All of these elements increase the spread of disease.

In a post-isolation world, eating at your workstation will no longer be an option. Staff will need to use the dedicated space to eat or head out of the building.

What may surprise you is that research suggests this approach can also increase productivity as staff will have a break from work and return with a fresh perspective. It can be the best way to resolve an issue!

 

Product Sharing

Workplaces are generally friendly locations and this encourages people to lend items to each other and support each other. That is an important part of the workplace morale and not something you want to lose.

However, staff need to be aware of how easily bacteria can be spread between people. Product sharing is no longer a viable option unless the product is wiped properly between users. It is essential that all staff are aware of this and comply. If they don’t you will quickly have uncomfortable staff and tension in the workplace. That helps no one.

 

Working Remotely

Post-isolation most workers will be keen to get back into the workplace and get some normality back into their lives. However, this will not be the case for everyone. Those with increased vulnerability to COVID-19 and those who are cautious will want to work from home.

This should be expected and accepted wherever possible. However, while this does make the cleanliness in the workplace easier, you will need to consider connectivity. Staff that work from home still need to feel part of the business. It is essential you create high-quality communication channels, allowing them to be part of the workplace banter and solutions, even though they are at home.

You are likely to find home workers are more productive. But, they do need to be included to ensure they continue as staff members!

 

Final Thoughts

Getting post-isolation cleanliness in the workplace right can be a difficult challenge. Every person will have a different opinion of what should be done and you will find yourself limited by the processes and procedures in place in your workplace.

The good news is that you can find a solution that keeps everyone happy. You simply need to evaluate the danger areas in your business and create a cleaning plan. It will also be vital to keep the lines of communication open with all employees. This ensures they feel relevant and are happy with the procedures put into place.

 

By Jesse Huges

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