By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
Cleanliness and hygiene are on everyone’s mind as coronavirus concerns persist in national headlines. Even though local economies have begun to open up, people are still concerned about exposure and infection. This is especially true in the workplace. It’s impossible for employees to feel comfortable and productive if they’re constantly concerned about an unseen virus lurking around them. Employers need to step up their COVID-19 office cleaning plan to quell fears and create confidence in their workforce.
Many workplaces implemented special cleaning protocols during the height of COVID-19 or before employees returned to work. This isn’t enough. The workplace needs cleanings in increased frequency and intensity, specific to concerns about COVID-19. Take a hard look at your current facility cleaning practices and measure them against coronavirus concerns.
How long can coronavirus live on surfaces?
COVID-19 is commonly transmitted via airborne droplet particles—coughs and sneezes. But the virus is resilient and can live on surfaces for varying lengths of time. For example, one study found that it can survive for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic surfaces. When you consider lingering surface particles, facility disinfection protocols become paramount.
Consider the types of common surfaces in your facilities and the potential for coronavirus to linger on them. At a minimum, clean these surfaces regularly with disinfectant. Encourage employees to wipe them down when they’re done using the space, as well.
What kills coronavirus?
The severity of COVID-19 as an infection is scary. Thankfully, the eradication of surface remnants of the virus isn’t any more difficult than addressing most general germs. Most office cleaning and disinfecting products will do the trick—including cleaning wipes that contain more than 70% alcohol content.
Cleaning wipes aren’t a practical use beyond spot cleaning for common surfaces. To kill COVID-19 broadly over large areas requires comprehensive cleaning or use of methods like electrostatic fogging. Fogging is ironically similar to how coronavirus spreads—a cleaning technician mists the area with an antimicrobial spray that’s electrostatically charged to kill viruses and bacteria on contact.
Finally, there’s always good old soap and water. In a pinch, most hand soaps and dish soaps will kill the virus. This isn’t generally applicable in a workplace, but it works in break rooms and bathrooms.
Increase your janitorial services
Workplace readiness for preventing the spread of COVID-19 can be as simple as stepping up what you’re already doing. If you have a janitorial service that comes once per week, for example, consider scheduling bi-weekly cleanings to keep on top of a sanitary environment.
Additionally, this is also a good time to investigate deep cleaning opportunities or new cleaning methods, like electrostatic fogging. How you clean matters as much (or more) than what you clean. The occasional deep clean or fogging will make the workplace feel brand-new and give employees a real sense of confidence in your efforts to provide a clean, sanitary workplace.
Make employees responsible for their space
Every office cleaning plan needs a focus on employee accountability. While it’s your duty as an employee to provide a clean, safe, comfortable workplace, it’s the duty of employees to keep it that way. It’s far from unreasonable to ask employees to throw away garbage and clean up after they’re done with a space. It’s also important to encourage good hygiene and sanitary practices in personal and shared spaces.
If you want employees to care for the workplace, make it easy. Place garbage and recycling bins in common and accessible areas. Leave sanitary wipes and disinfectant out and easy to grab. Post signage to remind people to be courteous about how they leave their space. Make it easy to request more paper towel or file a maintenance request to fix the soap dispenser. All these small, insignificant actions give employees the incentive and the means to clean the office as they use it.
Evaluate your standards for a clean workplace
The cleanliness of your workplace plays a tremendous role in how employees adapt post-COVID-19. If they feel comfortable in surroundings that feel clean, they’ll face fewer obstacles as they ease back into work. They’ll do better work and feel good about your organization’s emphasis on cleanliness. There are even culture implications—employees feel prouder and more connected to a workplace that’s well-kept and maintained to a superior standard.
Evaluate your current workplace cleaning and maintenance standards and make sure they address coronavirus-specific concerns. Adapt to ease employee worries—whether it’s more frequent cleanings, specific disinfection practices, or new policies to promote workplace cleanliness.
Keep reading: Coronavirus Workplace Resources