As the government changes its advice to ‘work from home if you can’ amidst a national increase in Covid-19 cases, good hygiene in the workplace has never mattered more – especially to keep the virus at bay and protect those who need to be in the workplace.
14forty, part of Compass Group UK & Ireland, provides integrated facilities management services including cleaning. It is working with businesses to ensure their cleaning protocols are sufficiently robust, especially with winter looming.
There has never been more focus than now on cleaning. Implementing increased cleaning protocols during a pandemic can present wide-ranging challenges for businesses of all kinds, in some instances without the correct resources and tools to ensure an area is cleaned to the highest standards possible.
This is a standard of cleanliness that most businesses will never have had to adhere to before. However, it’s crucial that they put in place the most robust processes possible in order to safely operate in compliance with guidance from the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England.
During these unprecedented times, business owners all over the world will be wondering about how to return to work after COVID, and although the work from home mandate is likely to stay in place for some time, it is important to take steps to safeguard workplaces for both employers and employees.
Here are our top five tips for businesses faced with the daunting task of becoming and staying Covid-19 secure:
Consider new ways of working:
Before considering how a space is cleaned, first think about how it is used. Think about which spaces in the business have the most foot traffic and be creative in reimagining how they can be used in order to distribute people evenly, reducing the risk presented by clusters of employees.
Consider implementing a one-way system to help employees and visitors adhere to social distancing. Ensure this is easy to navigate and clearly signposted. Keep the windows open if possible and check there is a well-maintained air extraction system.
Use appropriate cleaning products:
Using suitable products and making sure staff know how to use them is vital. One example is Tersano Ozone, which we use across our sites.
The product attracts bacteria, germs and other contaminants, eliminating them and leaving only water and pure oxygen following the cleaning process. It is a natural product that is considered environmentally friendly and can be used on a wide range of surfaces including food preparation areas
Update and review cleaning procedures regularly:
Divide surfaces into two categories: frequently touched points (e.g. rails, door handles, light switches, tabletops etc.) and minimally touched points (e.g. ceilings, floors and walls). Ensure these are cleaned regularly in line with use, i.e. the more frequently they are touched the more frequently they are cleaned.
Ensure surfaces are cleaned using the appropriate products and in accordance with manufacturer guidelines. Keep a record of all instances of cleaning and who is accountable – there are apps that can help with this.
Consider ‘deep cleaning’ offices or other premises regularly using third party professional contractors. Every building is different, but a deep clean should consist of everything from dusting walls and cleaning light switches to wiping down equipment and sanitising kitchen cabinets, appliances and furniture.
Ensure cleaning staff are visible and equipped with PPE:
Cleaners and the general workforce used to be like ships in the night, with only the early birds and night owls ever seeing cleaners in their workplace.
Now, visible cleaning teams help to reassure employees and visitors to the building that cleaning is taking place throughout the day, not just when everyone else has left. Equipping cleaning staff with PPE and ensuring they are using it is fundamental to keep all staff safe and reassured.
Ensure changes are long-term, not temporary:
Unfortunately, Covid-19 is likely to continue to impact businesses in the coming months and even years. Therefore, ensure that all changes made are long-term, while easily adaptable to account for changing Covid-19 regulations, government guidance and recommended cleaning procedures.
Businesses are keen to protect employees who need to visit the premises to do their job – it is of utmost importance. A Covid-19 outbreak in a business that failed to put proper cleaning protocols in place or appoint an appropriate service provider could have serious consequences.
Mauro Ortelli is managing director of 14forty.co.uk.