By Allen Halstead, Director of Sales for USA
As we head toward the official two-year mark of the global COVID-19 pandemic, many workers are now returning to the office at least some of the time. While a CNBC study in the United States found that almost half of all workplaces returned to a hybrid model of in-person and remote work by the end of 2021, it also found that employee wellness and health is a top priority for most companies. As companies continue to welcome employees into their offices at least some of the time in 2022, we’d like to share our top tips for office cleaning practices to limit the spread of infection or the possibility of an outbreak—either of COVID-19, the flu or the common cold—this winter.
Make Handwashing a Habit
Handwashing is the most important thing your workers can do in the office to stop the spread of infection. Practicing consistent hand hygiene has always been one of the most important steps we can take in preventing infection. Not only do dirty hands contribute to dirty surfaces, but also cell phones in the workplace are a major source of infection spread. Ensuring all employees have access to handwashing product and education materials will help to keep cell phones clean, and limit the spread of germs.
Education is key. Find a handwashing program that has signage and education materials, like the Charlotte Products Handwashing Program, to make this easier on you. Make sure you post signs inside and outside of restrooms, by any space where food is consumed and include handwashing information and reminders in office communication like employee newsletters.
Clean, Then Disinfect
Many offices have bottles of disinfectant everywhere, available for training cleaning personnel as well as any random office worker to spray. This is something that became popular during the pandemic as we all felt worried about the spread of germs and deferred to the strongest products on the market to “kill” germs at will. Now that we understand more about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we can take it easy on the indiscriminate use of disinfectant. Instead, we should practice thoughtful and careful disinfecting methods that include following the Five Critical Security Elements of Disinfection.
One of the important steps in safe disinfection is knowing the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning removes germs and soil from a surface using a mild detergent and water. Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces using a chemical that is certified to kill specific types of germs. If you do not need to disinfect a surface because it is not high-touch or has not come into contact with a known infection, cleaning alone will suffice. If you are disinfecting a surface because it is a high-touch surface or is suspected to have infection, then you should clean the surface before disinfecting to ensure your disinfectant is effective.
Color Code Your Cleaning System
If your office is not already color-coding its cleaning tools, then 2022 is the year you should start. Microfiber cloths are an excellent choice for cleaning tools and they often come in batches that are already color-coded to make implementing a system at your office simple. Color coding reduces cross contamination because your cleaning workers can easily identify which cloths to use for which types of surfaces. The industry standard color coding system will use red cloths for high-risk areas, yellow for bathroom, blue for general purpose cleaning and green for food service. Color coding also makes training new workers easier, which can come in handy as we continue to face a labor shortage in the industry in 2022.
Skip the Fancy Misters, Foggers and Sprayers
The pandemic introduced many fancy new devices to the cleaning industry. From foggers to misters and even drones, we’ve seen a plethora of new technology being used in office settings in an attempt to distribute as much disinfectant or cleaning product as possible. This type of delivery method, if not used carefully, can be considered a form of what many in the industry refer to as “hygiene theater.” That is a way that many make a grand show of cleaning and disinfecting to show to building occupants they are cleaning, while it may not actually be focusing on the cleaning and disinfecting itself.
We recommend a pump-up sprayer as the best method for delivering cleaning and disinfecting products in your office setting. These are not only more cost effective, but they are also more efficient. Following the Five Critical Security Elements of Disinfection are the real key to cleaning and disinfecting your office safely. Skip the fancy equipment and read the label, dilute properly, pre-clean, respect the dwell time and use a potable water rinse on food service surfaces.
Adhere to Protocols
We now know so much more about how to limit the spread of COVID-19 than we did in 2020 when offices closed down. We know that masking, physical distancing, ventilation and vaccination work together effectively in preventing the spread of the virus. Plus, many of these measures, like masking, are quite effective at limiting the spread of other illnesses including influenza. By keeping these protocols in effect in your office you can help your employees return to in-person work safely and keep productivity high.
As offices remain open during the winter months and variants of COVID-19 continue to contribute to waves of infection, it will be important to keep up with cleaning best practices to keep your business operating. Your employees will be glad to know you’re paying attention to their health and protecting them. So as you follow these best practices, remember to let them know what you’re doing. It will give them peace of mind and help everyone to feel calm and carry on in 2022!