Cold and flu season is here, and it’s more than just an inconvenience for workplaces across the country. A combination of poor hand hygiene and ineffective office cleaning can create a crisis in any office setting.
Employees come to the office even though they’re sick and people carrying germs visit the office; sickness might feel like it’s unavoidable for the average American worker. Additionally, children bring home germs from school, spreading sickness to the entire family, including the adults who then take the germs to work with them.
It’s estimated that lost productive time in the U.S. alone will cost employers $225.8 billion dollars per year. Additionally, unplanned absences related to illness will cause a 54% decrease in productivity. You must ask yourself if this level of loss is worth saving a little cash with ineffective office cleaning.
Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Sanitizing
“But someone cleans our building regularly,” you might be thinking. “Surely that’s sufficient to keep germs at bay!” Unfortunately, it’s not. Let’s look at the difference between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing.
Cleaning — This process removes dirt, impurities, and germs from the surfaces and objects in your office with a mixture of detergent and water. Note that it will REMOVE germs, but it will not KILL germs. Cleaning might be sufficient in some parts of the building, but it won’t cut it during cold and flu season.
Disinfecting — When you utilize chemicals to kill germs on objects and surfaces, you’re disinfecting. However, simply disinfecting isn’t guaranteed to remove dirt and debris from surfaces, though it will reduce the risk of spreading infection within your office.
Sanitizing — Sanitization occurs when you’ve destroyed 99.999% of bacteria within 30 seconds, according to the EPA’s Official Detergent Sanitizer Test. Conversely, disinfectants typically kill bacteria within 10 minutes. Sanitizing should be definitely be used in places that come into contact with food, to ensure that every surface is germ-free.
Proactivity is Key
The best way to prevent an office-wide outbreak is to engage a proactive cleaning company. They will take measures to reduce the spread of germs, and help keep your staff healthy, which will positively affect your bottom line.
How will you know that your cleaning company will take a proactive approach? For one thing, they will meet with the building owner or Property Manager to collaborate on an awareness campaign during flu and cold season.
Signs emphasizing the importance of hand washing should be posted prominently in restrooms and around the building. Additionally, hand sanitizer should be available in strategic places, such as the receptionist’s desk, the break room, and bathrooms. Facial tissue should be plentiful so that anyone in need can find it quickly. There could even be a newsletter detailing tips for keeping the spread of germs to a minimum.
Hot Spot Office Cleaning
During cold and flu season, it makes sense to step up your office cleaning game to include disinfecting all surfaces, particularly the so-called “hot spots.” These are places that are frequently touched by people, and they include bathroom fixtures, doorknobs, light switches, desktops, phones, and frequently used equipment like the copier, calculators, computer keyboards and more.
If you’ve got a break room or kitchen in your office, don’t allow them to be neglected by ineffective office cleaning. They should be disinfected as well, including the tables, chairs, and the refrigerator front and handle. The coffee pot should be thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis as well.
A trained professional understands that cross-contamination is a hallmark of ineffective office cleaning, and undertakes steps to ensure that it won’t happen in your office building. Cross-contamination occurs when the cleaner moves bacteria from one highly concentrated area to another, less concentrated area where humans could be exposed to them. For example, when someone cleans around the toilet and then uses the same cloth to clean the area around the sink, many of the germs and bacteria from the toilet are spread to the sink.
How can you avoid this? There are several methods, including the use of color-coded cleaning cloths. You would use one color for toilets, another for countertops, and a third color for mirrors. Most companies use color-coded microfiber cleaning cloths, which are designed to trap bacteria and dirt. As long as the cleaning crew is trained to utilize the system in place, there should be no danger of cross-contamination.
A truly clean office is a happy office; absenteeism is reduced, your employees are more productive, and the staff’s morale is higher when they know that everyone is present and pulling their weight. While this might seem like an unattainable dream, in truth it’s possible with a professionally trained cleaning staff that understands the importance of maintaining a clean and healthy office environment.