As countries around the world start to go back into lockdown, and here in the UK more counties in England enter Tier 3, it is clear that COVID-19 and the coronavirus is not going away anytime soon. In fact, it may never fully disappear, and we will need to learn how to live with it, just as we have with influenza.
It is with this in mind that we felt it would be worthwhile to provide some tips on how we can keep our workplace clean in a COVID world. Whether you work in an office, a factory, a warehouse, or even drive a vehicle, there are certain activities you can perform to help you and your work colleagues stay safe.
No doubt most businesses will have many of these tips in place already but maintaining the standards over time is now going to be crucial to the long-term safety of all. If we implement safe working practices, we won’t just stop the spread of COVID-19 but also other infections such as flus and colds.
If we first note how COVID-19, colds, flus and similar are transmitted from one person to another, we can better understand how we can prevent this from happening. The reality is that these bugs are transmitted from the droplets that disperse when we breathe, cough or sneeze. If we are within 1 metre of a colleague with an illness, there is a chance we will breathe in the droplets, or touch contaminated surfaces and then our eyes, nose or mouth. This is how we catch these illnesses. Based on this, we’ve developed the following list of tips for you to implement in your workplace, if you haven’t already.
- Think about how you use your workspace
- One-way systems – if you can then you could incorporate one-way systems and use tape if needed to demarcate where the lines are drawn for any passing points.
- Doors open please – keep doors open where you can, to avoid the use of handles but of course be mindful of fire regulations, so this is quite a tricky one to incorporate.
- Avoid or limit hot desking – before COVID-19 hot desking was becoming more prevalent as businesses looked to use the office space with maximum efficiency in mind. If you continue to hot desk ensure those hot desking are made aware of the need to clean their desk, chair, any surfaces or devices such as telephones before and after use.
- Spacing desks out – again before COVID-19, companies were looking to pack desks in to enable more workers per square metre. Of course, this practice must now end and potentially end for good. Ideally desks, including desks that are not facing each other, should be 2 metres apart.
- Promote working from home where appropriate – some individuals will suit and prefer working from home and may be able to work from home more easily. Others may prefer the office environment, and this may be of help to them from a mental health point of view too. Ideally businesses should consider each person as an individual with their own home circumstances, their preferred working method and offer the appropriate working conditions. Of course, those working in factories and warehouses will need to go to the workplace, but the company must make every effort to ensure their safety by keeping the workplace clean and safe.
- Consider how you work together – those working shifts in factories, warehouses and supermarkets are already aware of the need to clean their workspaces before and after their shift, so that it is ready for their colleague taking on the next shift. Office workers may now need to follow suit if the decision is made to implement a home versus office rota. This works well of course if teams or pods can be in the office at the same time. As capacity at offices falls with the 2-metre rule, this is a great way to maintain team spirit, productivity, and efficiency.
- Wash your hands regular – promote regular washing of hands. Make sure you are well stocked with soap, as you need soap and water. You can include a poster on how to wash your hands thoroughly. Here’s links to 2 posters you may find of use:
- HM Government and NHS Coronavirus Hand Washing Poster
- ECDC Effective Hand Washing Poster
It’s so easy to get complacent so including these posters on notice boards and in the toilets and kitchens will provide a useful reminder to wash hands properly, and if necessary ‘sing Happy Birthday’.
- Strategically place hand sanitiser stations around your workplace – include hand sanitizer stations as you enter the workplace, as you enter offices and meeting rooms as well as toilets and kitchens. Pristine offers automatic hand sanitiser stations for offices, factories, warehouses, in fact for all premises. With tabletop or free-standing units available, contact us for prices at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 7311 763.
- Mask wearing – give employees the option of wearing face masks if they wish. Face masks and paper tissues should be made available for anyone that coughs or has a ‘runny’ nose. You’ll need closed bins to enable the hygienic disposal of used masks and tissues. If coughing or runny noses persist, it is probably best for work from home to be implemented when feasible.
- Don’t come into work if you’re not feeling well – the simple truth is if you are feeling unwell, perhaps with a temperature or a cough, you need to encourage employees to work from home where possible. And of course, suggest that they get tested or speak to their GP. Make it clear that any time off will be counted as sick leave.
- Go paperless or file as you go – well before COVID-19 there was talk of the paperless office. Now more than ever it makes sense to go paperless not just to avoid the spread of diseases via paper but also of course to help the environment. Consider before printing any document whether it needs to be printed, but if you must print it for a particular reason consider after whether it can be shredded immediately after use or filed. Whatever the decision, don’t leave paper lying around in offices, warehouses, factories or vehicles – if you’ve printed it, it’s your responsibility to dispose of it appropriately or file it.
- Open the windows when you can – just as we keep doors open for ventilation, opening windows can help. Again, be mindful of sanitising your hands before and after you open and close windows, to avoid any potential contamination.
- Keep your distance and definitely no handshakes or hugs – although the 1-metre plus rule was introduced in England on 4 July 2020, we still believe that where practical keeping a 2-metre distance makes sense. Of course, your working conditions may or may not make this possible.
- Keep your chairs, computers, keyboards, monitors and screens clean including your mobile phone – not just appropriate for the office worker. With widespread automation in factories and warehouses, make sure that your production staff clean their workstations including any monitors and keypads before they start their shift and as they finish their shift. Wipe with disinfectant regularly.
- Keep work surfaces clean – clean your desks and tables as well as telephones and other objects on your desk or in your work area before you sit down to start work, and after you’ve finished and before you leave your work area, whether that’s an office, warehouse or factory.
- Review your workspace and keep your desk tidy – consider decluttering your workspace. From the van on the road to the workstation on the factory floor as well as the desk in the office, it is now time to consider clearing your workspace of any clutter and banning it for good. Any items that are not needed should be removed as they only make cleaning your workspace more difficult and can harbour germs.
- Clean the whiteboard when you’re done – using a whiteboard or flipchart? Then make sure these items and any writing implements are cleaned before and after use. Any paper on flipcharts needs to be removed and recycled or filed although this is not preferred. Make sure the whiteboard is wiped clean too.
- Keep public areas and meeting rooms clean and tidy – as we work in areas that we share with our colleagues, contractors and visiting customers and suppliers, it is crucial that we keep these communal areas clean, clutter free and tidy. Now more than ever, leaving your workspaces how you would want to find them is not just polite but vital in keeping everyone safe and well.
- Keep the kitchen clean – if there’s one place that needs to be germ free, it’s the kitchen, kettle, fridge, microwave and kitchen cupboards. In fact, all areas of the kitchen need to be kept clean and tidy, and it needs to be instilled that this is the responsibility of everyone. Gone are the days of turning up to a sink full of cups, spoons, knives, forks and plates. Kitchen utensils need to be washed and put away in a timely manner.
- Stop eating while you work – make it a company rule to limit food and eating to the kitchen or dining area. This will reduce the chances of crumbs in the work areas and provide for a cleaner workspace.
- Keep the toilets clean – it makes sense to have hand sanitiser positioned before the toilets for employees to use before going to the bathroom, and for after also. Make sure that the bathroom is disinfected often.
- Travelling for work purposes – make sure your employees check travel advice before any business trip and consider when we are in high alert whether the face to face meeting is really needed or whether it can be completed remotely. More information on things to consider when you travel on business can be found at https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/advice-for-workplace-clean-19-03-2020.pdf
- Develop a business continuity plan – consider how you will cope if one or more of your work colleagues falls ill with COVID-19. Now more than ever a contingency plan is worth developing and this should include the ability for as many staff as possible to work remotely if needed.
- Remove the rubbish – ideally rubbish bins should now be closed and enable staff to add rubbish without the need to open a lid with their hands. We would recommend that bins are emptied at least daily and should never be overflowing.
- Review and update your cleaning procedures – if you have a commercial cleaning company that you use, it is well worth reviewing their cleaning procedures with them. You may want to increase the cleaning schedule or reduce it depending on how often and busy your premises are during this time.
- Use the right cleaning products – you would hope that your cleaning company are using appropriate cleaning products. In fact, it would make sense to speak to your cleaning company about the products they use and potentially buy some additional product for use by staff where appropriate during the working day. “One thing that people don’t know about us is that we manufacture our own contract cleaning chemicals. We work with a local supplier to manufacture the chemicals which are bespoke to ourselves and unique for cleaning your offices,” confirms Tracie, Director at Pristine, so if you need cleaning products for your work premises get in touch as we can help. If you want to find out more about our office cleaning services get in touch with our team today for a coffee and chat by calling 0800 7311 763.
- Ask cleaning staff to be visible and wear appropriate PPE – most often cleaning staff are not in at the same time as your employees. However perhaps now is a good time to look at ensuring your cleaning contractors are visible, cleaning thoroughly and wearing appropriate PPE. Now more than ever your staff want to feel safe in their working environment so having cleaning company staff around will help.
- Schedule regular deep cleans – once a luxury perhaps, but now more important, it makes sense to organise regular deep cleans. These can be scheduled for factory shut down periods or for weekends if your premises are empty at the weekend. Of course, these are vital if any members of staff have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Should this happen, we would recommend that all staff leave the premises and a deep clean is completed including a ‘fogging’ of the premises. For more information on this please visit the Health and Safety Executive website.
- Long term change – now more than ever we need to not be complacent. After the initial lockdown in the UK, and over the summer period, there was a feeling that we were over the worst. There were warnings of a second wave and we believe this is the second wave. And we need to be vigilant and consistent with our new ways of working and our behaviours. To keep yourself and your work colleagues safe, as well as your family continue to observe the rules, keep washing your hands, keep your workplace clean and tidy.
If you need to organise a meeting or event, you need to prepare thoroughly to reduce the likelihood of spreading COVID-19. Think through how you can prevent infection at your meeting by considering:
- Does the face to face meeting need to take place or can it be conducted virtually?
- How many people actually need to attend? Could fewer people attend the meeting?
- Ordering extra supplies of sanitizer and masks.
- Make individuals aware that if they have any concerns about their health, feel unwell or have any of the COVID-19 symptoms that they should not attend the meeting.
- If individuals are staying away overnight, this can only happen based on the latest government guidelines and all participants will need to provide contact details including address, mobile number and email address.
- What happens if someone develops symptoms during the meeting? Agree a plan for this potential situation.
- How the meeting will take place? Agree what participants will need to do before entering the building, and then before entering the meeting room, as well as how individuals will be expected to conduct themselves during the meeting. Ideally ensure that the room is ventilated and that all individuals are 1 metre plus, ideally 2 metres apart.
- What needs to be implemented after the meeting? We are not thinking meeting action notes, although of course they would be useful especially if the actions are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) but also more importantly that contact details are retained. Agree with all participants that if any fall ill after the event that they make the organiser aware and that the organiser then informs all other participants so that they can monitor how they feel over the coming days. If individuals do develop the symptoms, they should inform their GP in the first instance, and they will most likely be required to take the test.
When you have your cleaning processes in place and everyone is following them, you can feel safe in your workplace. We hope this article provides you with some useful ideas and tips on how you can keep yourself and your work colleagues safe. We are in this together and we need to keep each other safe. Stay safe.
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We hoped you’ve found the information in ‘26 Top Tips To Keep Your Workplace Clean In A COVID World’ useful and informative. If you have more tips to add to our list, then please do make a comment below and we can grow the list to be even more comprehensive. Thank you.