As the global population becomes ever more connected, world health concerns are also on the rise. Even seasonal illnesses like the flu and common cold can lead to frequent absences, which can affect employee morale and productivity. As a business owner or facilities manager, you can help counteract these concerns by providing sanitary office conditions.
1. Implement a Sanitation Schedule
First and foremost, remember that cleaning is not the same as sanitizing. A clean office is free from surface dirt, whereas a sanitized office has also been treated to remove germs.
How often you sanitize depends on several factors. For example, in high traffic areas during the height of cold and flu season, surfaces that are touched frequently may require sanitizing several times a day. These areas include restrooms, services desks, and even items like telephones and elevator buttons.
In lower traffic areas, such as at individual desks, daily or weekly sanitizing may be sufficient, especially in times of low risk. A cleaning service can provide sanitation for high traffic areas, and personal areas can be sanitized by the individual employee in charge of that area.
Tools and Supplies
In addition to proper frequency, your cleaning staff should use the right tools and supplies. The CDC recommends using cleaning solutions that contain either 70 percent alcohol or those that contain bleach. Ask your cleaning service to use these products or those that are approved to destroy both bacterial and viral pathogens.
2. Provide Employee Sanitation Tools
Your cleaning staff are not the only ones responsible for maintaining a sanitized office. Some of the responsibility also falls onto your employees.
Sanitizers and Soap
The proper tools make it easier for your staff to maintain sanitary work practices at the office. Consult with your cleaning crew to make sure all restrooms and public sinks are properly stocked with soap, for example. Further, consider switching to hands-free toilet flushers and faucets to cut down on the spread of germs in restroom facilities.
You may also want to provide hand sanitizer kiosks or individual dispensers for employee desks and work areas. Opt for sanitizers that contain 60 to 95 percent alcohol to ensure that they provide the maximum germ-killing capabilities.
Many cold and flu viruses are spread in the air when someone coughs or sneezes, so wearing a face mask provides a method for cutting down on the spread of illness in the office. You can help by not only providing masks to those employees that are battling minor colds and illnesses, but also to any clients or visitors to the office that request them. Work to foster an office culture that accepts mask-wearing as normal.
3. Minimize Contact Areas
Although you can create office protocols to cut down on the spread of illness among your staff, it can be more challenging to manage illnesses brought in by customers, vendors, and office visitors.
Limited Public Areas
Consider limiting public access areas throughout your building, particularly in large buildings. For example, if your building has multiple elevators, stair wells or restrooms, only leave one open to public use. This way your cleaning staff can focus frequent sanitation efforts on only one area instead of several.
For businesses that bring a lot of clients on site, dedicated central waiting areas are also simpler to keep clean compared to lots of small waiting areas throughout a building. A single point of entry for visitors and clients can help manage the flow of people into these dedicated areas.
Customer Service Shields
Often, your office security desk personnel or receptionist is on the front line of illness exposure. Since germs can be spread by hands or coughing and sneezing, a service shield can protect these employees. These shields are often used in banks and medical settings, but they can also work well in the office.