Work hygiene is more important than ever – here’s what you need to know
If there’s anything that the past year has shown is the importance of hygiene, especially in the workplace.
The Coronavirus pandemic has illustrated just how vigilant we all need to be to keep the workplace a healthy and safe space; however, the importance of workplace hygiene extends beyond a single virus, and as such it necessitates constant attention and methods of COVID cleaning.
Below, we take a closer look at the importance of workplace hygiene, and explain some of the best ways to ensure that staff help maintain a clean and safe workplace.
The cost of poor hygiene
A lot of people consider hygiene as literally surface level – an aesthetic concern, which is something to be encouraged, but by no means a necessity. This analysis couldn’t be further from the truth however; poor hygiene poses a real, tangible risk to worker health and productivity, which can be quantified.
The cost of workplace-related injury and ill health between 2018/2019 was £16.2 billion (HSE 2019), an absolutely staggering number! £10.6 billion of that cost was as a result of ill health, the side which is more easily preventable through hygiene.
While it’s difficult to estimate exactly how much of that cost can be eliminated through good hygiene practices, the effects can be significant. A complete elimination is unlikely, but it can likely be reduced to a fraction of that £10.6 billion, with greater comparative benefits likely experienced by SMEs.
While there’s the direct cost of ill health related work absences, a dirty and unhygienic workplace also influences workplace morale and productivity.
Studies have shown more and more that a chaotic environment increases stress levels, in turn leading to poorer mental health and decreased productivity.
A tidy, uncluttered, and hygienic workplace is easier to work in, and will help a workforce to operate at the highest standard.
A clean and welcoming work environment will also help to keep staff mental health a priority; mental health is often overlooked, however, it is the most significant case of illness leave in the UK, and is estimated to cost employers around £2.4 billion per year.
A clean and hygienic workplace makes staff feel like they’re more cared for, and with the Coronavirus an omnipresent threat, will help to alleviate anxieties over potentially deadly infections!
A clear policy
The most important element of improving staff hygiene practices is to make a clear, formal hygiene policy.
This shouldn’t just be a laminated piece of paper that sits at the bottom of a drawer – it needs to be clear and frequently gone through in order to be effectively communicative.
Whether you hold specific hygiene meetings or choose to tack it onto weekly or monthly team briefings, it’s something that needs refreshing in people’s minds often, so as to maintain momentum.
Promote preventative measures
One of the most significant measures that can be taken to ensure the workplace remains in a hygienic condition is through preventative action.
Simple things like asking staff to not eat at their desks can keep the majority of food waste and potentially unhygienic debris in controlled areas, whether that’s a kitchen area, cafeteria, or outside the office completely.
Having bins located at various spots around the office will help a lot as well, as it means that unhygienic items like food wrappers and tissues don’t accumulate in the office on desks and in drawers, they go straight into the bin.
During coronavirus, other preventative hygiene methods may take a different form, like leaving doors open so that staff don’t have to touch handles, or altering them so that the doors can be opened with feet or elbows. Wearing masks while in communal areas can also be considered a preventative hygiene policy, as it will stop the spread of potentially infectious aerosol droplets!
Provide cleaning supplies
Even if you develop a strong company culture with an ethic of staff responsibility for personal and communal hygiene, you need to provide the materials to practically facilitate that to make sure it happens.
One way you can aid in the process is through making cleaning supplies readily available; not necessarily items like mops and hoovers, but more importantly for hygiene, disinfectant wipes, tissues, and a collection of appropriate cleaning sprays. Having these available around the office at easily accessible locations will significantly increase the chances of your staff keeping their personal areas clean.
Playing into the same ideology as preventative measures, another effective (perhaps essential) way to maintain a hygienic workplace is through regular action. It’s not enough to disinfect once a week – while that may be how long it takes for visible dirt to accumulate, it only takes a single sneeze to spread potentially infectious droplets, the knock of a hand to spill coffee.
If you’re serious about maintaining a hygienic workplace, and based on the data above you certainly should be, cleaning should be as regular as daily, especially during a pandemic.
While it may not be appropriate to have staff deep clean communal areas like toilets and the kitchen, you can’t have cleaning teams in after each use, so you need to develop a sense of individual responsibility.
]That means using the bathroom in a considerate manner, and cleaning up after using the kitchen; no double-dipping spoons in the sugar bowl, remembering to put dirty cups in the dishwasher, not leaving rotting food in the fridge.
Essentially, treating the work environment like you’d treat your home. This is something that has to become part of company culture, and can’t necessarily be enforced, but will have a big impact when put into place!
In addition to cleaning personal spaces like desks and computers, personal hygiene is extremely important. It can be facilitated through accessible sanitisation stations, with hand wipes and gels, and also through informational campaigns.
Remind staff to wash their hands regularly, to catch sneezes, and to not touch their faces. These things may all seem like common sense, but can be forgotten by some people!
Don’t know where to start with cleaning your workplace? Our team can help. Get in touch today to enquire about a bespoke office clean, deep-cleaning for your work environment or even if you require advice on where to take your cleaning strategies and ensure that your staff are working in a clean and hygienic environment.