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Safeguarding your office on the return to work

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Safeguarding your office on the return to work
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa – a bacteria that can cause infection of the blood and lungs.
  • Staphylococcus aureus – the most dangerous staphylococcal bacteria.
  • Actinomycetales – illness-inducing bacteria found in water.
  • Norovirus – Also known as the winter vomiting bug.

But what do these bugs have in common? They can all be found in your office.

The average office desk harbours 10 million bacteria alone, followed closely by areas such as chairs, keyboards, and mice.  Offices are quite literally breeding grounds for harmful bacteria, and if not managed properly with strict and efficient cleaning regimes, your team are at risk of dropping like flies.

In fact, almost half of workforces believe that they become ill throughout the year because of poor cleaning standards in the workplace, coming in at a cost of over £1.5 billion to UK employers. So, what steps should you be taking to ensure sickness levels are kept low in the office, especially as everyone looks to re-enter venues properly at the end of the summer after 18 months of working remotely?

Focus on those forgotten areas

While our minds may go straight to those ‘perceived’ dirty areas, such as the toilets, germs are more likely to be harbouring in the less obvious places. An average work desk has 400 times more bacteria on it than a toilet seat, the average light switch is swarming with 217 bacteria per square inch, and 41 per cent of coffee cups hold coliform bacteria or as it’s more commonly known, faecal bacteria.

Ensure you’re employing a cleaning team that doesn’t jump straight to the most obvious task, but meticulously cleans everywhere. A team which places the same importance on the cleanliness of the toilet as the cleanliness of the door handles.

Keep the hand sanitiser

With the COVID-19 pandemic beginning to ease, it might be easy to believe that preventative measures, such as hand sanitiser at all exits and entrances, may feel like you’re going ‘overboard’. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Even pre-COVID, those offices who regularly kept measures such as hand sanitiser or, at least, had visible hand washing signage were the ones who were less likely to see outbreaks of illness. Just because COVID-19 feels like less of a threat, doesn’t mean that we’re out of the woods yet and anyway, it isn’t just coronavirus that you should be worried about. The flu, colds, and other worrisome infections float around your office day in and day out, so don’t become complacent.

It might be worth putting hand sanitiser outside the bathrooms too, especially seeing as more than one in ten adults don’t wash their hands after going to the toilet.

Cleaners need to be a 24/7 commitment

Gone are the days where cleaners are hidden away during early morning or late-night shifts, it’s crucial they are employed on a much more regular basis if you are to combat poor office hygiene.

Cleaners must be able to clean as frequently as possible throughout the day, tackling high-traffic areas and touchpoints to keep bacteria at bay. Don’t forget to also employ cleaners for longer durations of time periodically to undertake deep cleans or disinfections.

Additionally, visible cleaners throughout the day undoubtedly creates feelings of security amongst teams and customers. Indeed, findings from a survey completed by ABM found that 61 per cent of people felt that their safety concerns were being taken seriously if cleaners were visible, and 27 per cent agreed that it made them far more trusting of the environment they were in.

Office sickness costs UK businesses an incredible amount of money per year, but it’s not just sickness that costs employers inordinate sums of money – it’s productivity too. A clean office allows for better concentration, reduces stress levels, improves motivation, and strengthens morale – all of which are crucial to a happy, fruitful workplace.

If your office could do with a little TLC before your staff return fully in September, contact one of our friendly team today who will be more than willing to help.