Returning to Work after Covid-19

According to experts, life after the pandemic will never be the same again. Chances are you will have a different view of the equipment and surfaces around you and subconsciously reach for a disinfecting wipe, just to be sure the surfaces and equipment are germ-free.  Such apprehension wasn’t that defined before.  It, however, has made us realize the benefits and importance of a clean and healthy working environment.  While the CDC advises us to disinfect all exposed surfaces, it all comes down to keeping the office clean. You also need a solid plan, the right equipment, and a dedicated team to make it happen.  Outlined below is an office cleaning checklist to help you establish a solid plan, choose the right materials, and ensure your team keeps the work environment clean at all times.

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Adopt the Recommended Cleaning Procedures

Many people have understandably taken to ‘disinfecting everything’ as a measure to stop the virus.  While this may be the right approach, the CDC recommends cleaning your surfaces instead of disinfecting them. Here are the reasons why.

Cleaning is an easy process vital for everyone’s health and wellness. Washing surfaces with soap and water or a green cleaner not only removes the germs but also gets rid of dust and dirt. Wiping down surfaces also helps pick the germs (with a cloth or paper towel) hence dispose of them off correctly.

Disinfection, however, uses chemicals to kill the germs.  Although effective, disinfection is only recommended where one doesn’t have access to soap and water or has been in a potentially infected environment. Disinfection isn’t, therefore, a must in routine cleaning.

It would also be advisable to read the fine print before using any cleaner or disinfectant. You also should avoid mixing cleaning agents, as doing so could trigger toxic/harmful reactions.

Gather the Recommended Cleaning Paraphernalia

Always use the right tools for an effective clean.  Several tools will be required, whether deep cleaning, disinfecting, or doing just a simple cleaning job, to make it happen. Some of the items you will need include:

Nitrile gloves (latex can react with some people)

Microfiber cloths or paper towels

Green cleaning spray

Correctly-diluted bleach solution, spray, and disinfecting wipes

Trash bags

Protective gown and the recommended respirator mask (for disinfection)

Come Up with An Office Health and Safety Plan

Think about typical hotspots that can transmit viruses, bacteria, and other vectors, then formulate a cleaning routine for the same.

Take note of high-traffic areas, how specific spaces are used, and how hygiene can be maintained within the same. Be sure to evaluate/inspect every inch of the work environment, then formulate ways to keep these clean.

Take note of high-tough areas around the office area. Such surfaces can be the main transmission points for vectors.

Some of these include:

Desks and tables

Chair-backs

Countertops

Doorknobs

Cabinet handles and pulls

Light switches

Other high-touch areas within the office worth considering include:

Computer keyboards, mice, and phones

Pen-cups, tape dispensers, staplers, and other desk accessories

Touchscreens

Elevator buttons

Coat hangers and racks

Appliance controls (dishwasher, toaster, oven, and fridge) and handles

Chair-backs in sitting areas

Coffee stations and service items

Bathrooms waste bins

Stall and door handles

Convenience item dispensers

Changing stations

Toilet handles, towel dispensers, soap, and other bathroom fixtures

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Create and Enforce an Office Cleanliness Plan

A regular cleaning and disinfection plan will help manage and reduce the number of vectors within the office space.   Formulating a regular cleaning schedule also means the space will be healthy and clean all the time.

There’s no standard cleaning procedure/schedule for every office space. All you can do is work with what’s best for your office. Simple practices such as ensuring all high-touch areas are cleaned regularly (daily), with an intermittent deep cleaning practice for all other spots (window treatments, upholstery, and carpets), can also help create a clean and healthy working environment.

When to Increase the Frequency of Cleaning the Office

You need to be able to determine the times when the frequency of cleaning and disinfection should be increased. These include:

If there is an outbreak of infectious illnesses locally

The peak season of flu and when schools reopen

When there are large-scale events in the office, these include board meetings, stockholder meetings, all-hands events, and holiday gatherings.

If someone in the office has been infected.

Don’t Forget to Dust Regularly

It’s easy for one to focus on cleaning/disinfecting and forget about the other aspects of keeping the office clean, such as dusting.  While you may know this already, dust can be a vector for a myriad of illnesses, including flu and COVID-19. These viruses will hitch a ride on aerosolized moisture and dust particles, making it harder to control. Ensuring all surfaces are dusted properly, and free of dust can help reduce the spread of the disease and improve indoor air quality as well.  This is considerably important, especially for those with respiratory sensitivity, asthma, and dust allergies.

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Promote Good Hygiene in The Office

If there’s one thing the COVID-19 outbreak has taught us is to keep a reasonable distance from one another.  This thus makes it easier to encourage all team members in the office to maintain healthy hygiene. You can promote good office hygiene by:

– Encouraging regular hand washing and respiratory hygiene practices

– Encourage staff to work from home when possible, and especially if one is sick

– Stock up supplies and make them available to all. Be sure to have all cabinets marked accordingly

– Place paper towels, hand sanitizers, wipes, and waste bins strategically in traffic areas.

– Encourage workers to maintain social distancing even when in the office

– Have everyone in the office participate in wiping down surfaces. Encourage them to air their views on what should be done to help keep the office environment clean and germ-free.

– Provide a channel where the staff can make suggestions. This can be via a ticketing system, suggestion box, or a simple email.

– Invest in touchless office upgrades for reduced contact. These include:

  • Motion-activated lights
  • Lotion, soap, and sanitizer dispensers
  • Entry and in-office doors
  • Hand-dryers and towel dispensers

Maintain That Level of Cleanliness in The Office

It takes some planning and inclusivity to make the office environment clean and germ-free. This is, however, the first step to making it happen. Everyone needs to participate in maintaining this level of office hygiene to reduce the risk of infection. Taking all the measures to keep the office environment clean goes a long way in improving the overall wellness culture in the workplace. Your staff will also feel valued and cared for, hence strive to keep the fires burning.

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