The return to office not only brings an increased awareness of the individual’s role in maintaining a COVID-safe workplace, but also reinforces the importance of implementing effective business-wide sanitary solutions. “COVID has created a heightened awareness for everyone around a clean and disinfected office environment with new protocols for distancing and well-being,” say Chris Robertson and Chris Gassi, Sales Managers, Facility Solutions at Staples. “Facility management teams always have a role in keeping a workplace safe, healthy and clean.”
Matt Freeman, Business Development Manager at Kimberly-Clark Professional agrees.
“Our recent office building survey from May 2020* found that 90 percent of people perceived large office buildings as posing a moderate or high germ risk. We believe facility managers can adopt ways to help provide peace of mind to consumers and office building employees.”
But there’s more to keeping the workplace safe and healthy than meets the eye. Take note of these often-overlooked hotspots in the office to ensure all the bases are covered to keep employees as safe and well as possible.
While it’s well-known that high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, elevator buttons and photocopiers should be cleaned and disinfected daily, other surfaces are sometimes neglected. “Cleaners are very cognizant of high-touch surfaces,” say Robertson and Gassi. “However, items on a desk may or may not be cleaned based on workplace-specific instructions.” Keyboards and phones, for example, are areas that may be overlooked when cleaning. Robertson and Gassi suggest providing employees with wipes so they can sanitize desktop objects before using.
Freeman notes that the products you use to clean are also important, especially when chemicals are in use. Kimberly-Clark Professional’s office building survey found that
76 percent of people preferred seeing cleaning staff use disposable supplies vs. reusables. According to Freeman, cotton and microfibre towels are not compatible with many disinfectants as the product will usually remain in the towel rather than be released to the surface you’re intending to clean. He suggests contacting your manufacturer of reusables for further guidance on how products can be used with disinfectants.
More frequent surface cleaning, providing employees with personal protective equipment (PPE)and hand sanitizing stations have all played an important role in keeping workplaces safe since the pandemic began. Now, an increasing awareness of the airborne nature of COVID necessitates an enhanced approach to air purification in the workplace. “Air purifiers are a great example of a technology that has become mainstream with COVID,” say Robertson and Gassi. “Originally it was all about PPE, masks, gloves, sanitizer, etc. But now we are realizing that clean air is just as important, and many companies are using enhanced filtration or air purifiers to help.” Unsure of what type of air purifier is needed at your office? Staples Professional works with partners who can conduct room or site audits to help you choose the right product and install it for you.
Air dryers were once seen as the preferred solution to hand drying in office washrooms, but many companies are now moving away from air dryers due to concerns about how clean hands really are after drying and the potential for cross-contamination.
“Our consumer survey findings indicated almost two-thirds of respondents prefer paper towels over air dryers for restroom hand drying,” says Freeman. “Paper towels reduce bacteria on hands by up to 77 percent. And with usage becoming less predictable given inconsistent office traffic, ensuring that you have high-capacity towel systems is key.”
Keeping a clean space while ensuring employees feel safe can feel daunting but having a plan in place can make all the difference. Staples Professional is there with you all the way.
* Survey: Kimberly-Clark Professional, Hygiene Behaviors Consumer Study, May 2020