With the Covid curve flattened and infection rates retreating, Australians are slowly returning to work in offices… but not as we know them.
Businesses failing to follow strict new hygiene protocols could face embarrassing Covid PR disasters and contribute to a second wave; the cost of which could be financially terminal for already struggling businesses.
It’s a critical time for the economy and the health & safety of employees is key to recovery. To assist Australian companies with a safe and seamless re-occupation of office space, CompuClean has created a list of hygiene guidelines to reduce the risk of workplace infection as the country defines its new business as usual.
If there was ever a good time to do things in halves – or less – it’s now! Reintroducing your entire workforce all at once increases the risk of transmission, particularly if new office hygiene measures prove insufficient and are not observed by all staff.
A split or staggered approach to rostering, which allows some employees to continue working from home part-time, can help businesses adapt to new measures and limit the number of people in the office while new protocols are tried and tested.
Install Handwashing & Hygiene Reminder Signs
Safe Work Australia recommends employees wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before drying them correctly with clean paper towel under the following circumstances:
- before and after eating
- after coughing or sneezing
- before entering and exiting a common area
- after going to the toilet
- when changing tasks and after touching potentially contaminated surfaces
Hygiene reminder signs are designed to help employees adopt these basic but crucial handwashing practices when placed in bathrooms, kitchens and beside additional hand washing facilities.
👉🏽 Request a quote on handwashing & hygiene reminder signs for the workplace.
Setup Portable Hand Sanitiser Stations
While experts prefer hand washing over hand sanitiser, there’s no doubt sanitiser is the next best thing. In areas of the workplace with no immediate access to soap and water, portable hand sanitiser stations can encourage employees to sanitise before entering a building, using an elevator or operating shared equipment like printers and copiers.
Experts warn against using sprays with 30% alcohol content, which can be virtually useless for killing viruses, and recommend 60–80% alcohol — the level required to kill a virus present on your hands.
👉🏽 Request a quote on portable hand sanitiser stations for the workplace.
Implement Strict Social Distancing
When a sneeze can spray potentially infectious droplets as far as 27 feet, the argument for social distancing is clear. While spacing desks at 27-feet intervals in anticipation of a sneeze is not a viable floor plan, the recommended 6 feet between workstations should be observed as a minimum wherever possible.
In addition to adequately spaced desks and offering fewer seating options in communal areas, design-led behaviour can also help enforce social distancing. Floor arrows or marking tape can influence behaviour by encouraging one-way flow throughout the office – a strategy employed by hospital workers to help avoid the spread of pathogens.
Attaching self-adhesive feet markers to the floor of elevators, as ANZ have considered, can also be used to encourage staff to stand looking at the walls, rather than inwards.
Retracta-belt barriers and safe distancing wall signs can be used to encourage safe queuing in waiting areas, foyers and around reception desks.
Covid-Safe Social Distancing: A Wholistic Approach
Cushman & Wakefield’s 6 Feet Office concept is designed to help businesses prepare a Covid-safe workplace for employees’ return to work. It involves a thorough workplace analysis, establishing rules of conduct, a visual representation of traffic flow, adapting workstations and employee training to ensure procedures are followed, culminating in virus-safe working environment certification.
Restrict Access to Non-Essential Areas
Consider adapting or restricting access to all internal public spaces to uphold social distancing, such as gyms, cafeterias, coffee stations, pantries, copier areas, conference rooms and mail rooms.
Schedule Regular ICT Equipment Sanitisation
High-touch office ICT equipment like computers, mice, keyboards, tablets, laptops, headsets, switchboards and photocopiers can be responsible for rapid transmission of potentially dangerous bacteria and harbour up to 400x more bacteria than a toilet seat.
Regular office cleaners, however, are simply not qualified to perform the detailed cleaning required of this valuable apparatus to reduce its potential for spreading infectious diseases. CompuClean’s specially trained, security cleared and uniformed Technical Cleaners have been using patented antibacterial products and state-of-the-art disinfectant procedures to remove 99.99% of sickness causing bacteria present on the office ICT equipment in some of Australia’s biggest companies since 1996.
With coronavirus detectable on glass and plastic surfaces for up to 72 hours, a technical sanitisation schedule can supplement increased office hygiene protocols to help reduce the risk of cross-contamination during the Covid-19 pandemic and flu season.
Safe Work Australia’s Covid-19 Guide for Employers highlights the importance of cleaning surfaces of dirt and grime with detergent before disinfecting them. Not doing so first can prevent disinfectants from effectively killing infectious germs, which is where regular office cleaners fall short against CompuClean’s anti-static cleaning solution used to remove micro-particles and stubborn grime from complex ICT equipment and workstation surfaces prior to disinfecting.
Use Antimicrobial Film
Applying PUREZONE antimicrobial film to high-touch areas like door handles, counter tops, windows and tables can reduce the spread of harmful bacteria by killing 99.99% of germs on contact. PUREZONE’s self-cleaning adhesive surfaces are waterproof and form a barrier against humidity to prevent germs from proliferating.
To help people identify areas protected with antimicrobial film, the PUREZONE label can be applied next to the film. This trusted brand provides employees and clients with peace of mind that your office is doing everything possible to provide a Covid-safe workplace.
👉🏽 Get in touch for a quote on PUREZONE Antimicrobial Film.
Consider Health Tracking Technologies
Global real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield have installed beacons in their office to track employees’ movements around the workplace using tracking technology installed on employees’ mobile phones.
While this may feel reminiscent of Australia’s controversial COVIDSafe App, Cushman & Wakefield’s software is specifically designed to help the firm assess the effectiveness of their Covid-safe workplace by monitoring how closely (literally) employees are following social distancing at work.
Invest in Touchless Technology
From hands-free hydration stations and touchless bathroom taps to sensor activated soap dispensers and automatic sanitary bins, hygiene-driven technology can help manage the risk of workplace transmission in bathrooms and other high-touch areas like water bubblers.
The Middle East’s fully integrated environmental and waste management company, Bee’ah, is a futuristic glimpse of what’s possible with touchless technology, packed with what the architects have coined “contactless pathways” whereby employees rarely need to touch the building. Office doors open automatically using motion sensors and facial recognition and elevators – as well as coffees – can be ordered straight from a smartphone.
In a bid to keep patrons safe, one Thailand shopping mall has replaced lift buttons with foot pedals. Bangkok’s Seacon Square shoppers were reportedly surprised and confused to discover pedals in front of elevators and inside, but they welcomed the hands-free innovation as a smart move towards staying healthy.
Stay Informed & Prepare to Pivot
As CBRE Global Property Management explains in their tenants and landlords’ guide to Re-Opening the World’s Workplaces, businesses need to prepare for a more discerning workforce that will expect ongoing, credible assurances they are working in a Covid-safe environment.
Businesses should closely monitor public health and government advice from WHO and Safe Work Australia and be ready to adapt their practices in response to evolving circumstances, which may include a full or partial return to working from home.
If implemented effectively under close supervision with staggered rostering, the measures above will help reduce the risk of infection in the workplace, but are they enough to prevent a second wave? Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.
To learn how CompuClean’s patented technical cleaning procedures can help your business create a Covid-safe workplace and prevent a costly and embarrassing Covid-cluster, call 02 9331 7799 or email our office for a no-obligation quote.
Does this post need updating? We do our best to keep our content up to date, but if something has changed or you would like to suggest a product or service for inclusion in this post, please get in touch and let us know.