Guest blogger: Cat Allport-Kane, Head of Brand and Marketing Communications at Rentokil Initial, writing on the importance of hygiene in delivering business confidence.
When you think about it, confidence can be a rather fragile notion and the global pandemic has affected everyone’s in so many ways.
If you were able to take someone from 2019 and then suddenly drop them into spring 2020 imagine the shock they would experience? They would arrive in an alarming changed world hardly recognisable from just months before. So many new things to deal with. Frequent and complex lockdowns. Continually changing rules and regulations. Conflicting statistics. Movement and travel restrictions. People worldwide are genuinely fearful and taking careful steps to ensure their own safety.
Increased hygiene awareness
Perhaps more than anything else, the most noticeable change would be everybody’s individual focus on hygiene. The pandemic has made hygiene something people hardly ever thought about before (but knew they should do), into something they have to do because it’s critical for their safety.
This heightened sense of awareness has had an impact far beyond each individual’s home or immediate surroundings. Now hygiene is on their mind whenever they venture out, whatever they’re doing. Going to the shop for milk. A gym session. A break in a hotel. Returning to the office. The premises people frequent and situations are endless. But there is one common factor, all these places of business need to be just as vigilant with hygiene as their visitors are – if not more so. In fact, this is fast becoming a measure of how businesses are judged.
Initial’s research proves the point. We found that 65% of respondents expect the company to provide regular disinfection services. 50% believe the office should be cleaned once a day, 40% believe it should be twice a day. Research carried out by The Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Brand Trust and the Coronavirus Pandemic added more. They discovered "78% of people say that businesses have a responsibility to ensure their employees are protected from the virus in the workplace and do not spread the virus into the community." Clearly people expect their safety to be taken seriously by businesses. More than ever, people are hygiene conscious and know what provisions should be adopted to keep themselves safe.
Download our ebook: 'Facing the challenges of Hygiene with confidence' to read more about how you can confidently deliver hygiene standards, from Initial.com.
It’s a matter of trust
It’s obvious then that if a business fails to take the public’s increased focus on hygiene seriously, then their brand reputation is at risk. In light of the current situation it would also lead to reduced footfall as customers would stay away, voting with their feet.
In addition, customers are equally concerned about how companies treat staff. They are, after all, the people they come in contact with. A global consumer sentiment survey across 42 countries from McKinsey – the trusted adviser and counsellor for many of the world's most influential businesses and institutions – recently highlighted the importance of hygiene. The survey revealed that if companies treat their staff well and put safety concerns first, it indicates that the company is making sensible decisions about safety. Something that customers think is the right thing to do.
It’s pertinent to remember that staff and customers will be more favourable to businesses they feel can be trusted to offer effective and comprehensive hygiene solutions. When it’s clear they are, it attracts and reassures customers and encourages employee loyalty.
For more on brand trust, read the article 'Actions speak louder than words: exploring the link between hygiene and brand trust' on Initial.com's industry insights.
Taking a look at the bigger picture
As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. In truth, the clearer you are about your long and short-term hygiene strategy the happier people will feel when visiting your business. These days cleanliness is the bare minimum people expect to see. If you’re a hotel, restaurant or shop, just delivering this will no longer allow you to stand out from the crowd. If we’re eating in a restaurant or staying in a hotel, we can see if something isn’t clean. We cannot, however, see whether something has been made hygienically safe.
With the pandemic still ever present for now, hygiene’s importance has been elevated from functionality to a ‘duty of care’ issue. Businesses have a responsibility to staff and customers to make sure they have solutions in place that are effective 24/7. When they are, it can help to build the reputation of a business, reflect its values and deliver confidence.
Ensuring that your business is delivering confidence
From the moment a person steps into your premises they should be aware that you have hygiene under control. By positioning products in appropriate pathogen hotspots throughout your business you are demonstrating a visual reassurance that you are reducing cross-contamination risks. Signs and floor markings also offer peace of mind. Staff and customers can be confident that you’re following government guidelines and taking the health and wellbeing of everybody seriously. Planning ahead for every eventuality is the way forward. Below are important hygiene factors to consider to ensure your business is delivering confidence.
How to inspire confidence in the bathroom:
There’s no space in your business better than your bathrooms to make a statement about how seriously you take hygiene. Those who use your facilities will judge how you are doing very quickly. Public opinion certainly has a strong view on it, as Initial UK's recent research found. Of those surveyed 62% think that more should be done to prevent bathrooms from becoming a place where Coronavirus is spread. This clearly demonstrates businesses need to show their users that everything possible is being done to keep bathrooms hygienically clean, fresh and free from risk. This in turn will lead to added confidence in your brand.
So what are the areas a business needs to consider in the washroom?
1. Clean hands
Effective hand hygiene involves two basic processes. Washing the hands with soap and water and then drying without risking contamination. Initial anti-microbial soaps can kill 99.99% of bacteria and viruses. We also have a range of hand drying options including paper towel dispensers and electric hand dryers. There is one further process that can help hygiene, that’s hand moisturising. Initial hand moisturising solutions give an added layer of skin protection, especially from frequent hand washing and show customers and employees you care about their wellbeing.
You may also be interested in finding out why we use bio-enzyme soaps, and how they protect your skin by supporting your microbiome.
2. Air care
A bathroom with a pleasant scent will have a significant impact on people’s perception of a business and how they behave. Initial has products that can help in a couple of ways. Our range of effective air care solutions remove malodour, effectively cleaning the air by neutralising bacteria that cause bad smells. We also have air care solutions that deliver fragrant, malodour-free washrooms and customer areas. People are far more likely to trust a business that takes time to ensure its washrooms not only look good but smell pleasant too.
You may also be interested to read about 'Why businesses need air hygiene to protect their workplaces from COVID-19'.
3. Clean surfaces
Washrooms have a multitude of surfaces that need to be clean. They are after all, particularly if frequently touched, the areas where cross-contamination is most likely. Initial has a range of scientifically-proven surface wipes and sprays that kill up to 99.99% of bacteria, plus products like HygienicTouch door handles that can reduce the risk of further contamination. Sometimes a deep clean might be required to prevent the build up of hidden embedded germs and bacteria. If this is the case, we have this covered too with a specialist hygiene service dedicated to deep washroom cleaning.
4. Cubicle care
Businesses that focus on clean and hygienic toilet cubicles will see the effort pay dividends in how they are perceived by employees and customers. To help achieve this there are various ranges available from Initial. Each harnesses the latest scientific innovations to reduce cross-contamination, increase efficacy and keep bathrooms clean, fresh and safe. Products include sanitisers, seat sanitisers and covered toilet roll dispensers.
Giving people confidence in your premises
For the sake of your business's bottom line and reputation, it’s important that the moment anyone steps into your building they feel their safety has been considered and accounted for. Recently Initial conducted a survey to explore this point. The results showed that 87% of people expect their company to provide them with hand sanitiser, 65% expect the company to provide regular disinfection services and 86% are concerned about the risk of the virus spreading through using door handles. It clearly illustrates that businesses must adopt an integrated approach to hygiene that leaves staff and visitors reassured whilst they navigate their way around.
To learn more read the blog from Initial.com, on the '3 critical ways washroom hygiene can protect users from infections'
How to make your premises hygienic:
1. Hand sanitising
It’s not just on entry to a building that people expect to have access to hand sanitisers. Everywhere there’s a hotspot, be that on doors or lifts or handrails, even signing into a building, hand sanitisers need to be provided to reduce the risk for cross-contamination around the building. Initial has a range of products available to cover all situations. From manual dispensing units to no-touch technology that includes automatic dispensing at fixed locations or on movable stands. Whichever option you choose, the dispensers are scientifically tested and designed to be optimally hygienic. This gives businesses the choice of putting in place solutions that exactly fit their requirements.
2. Clean air
The fact is, we all like being somewhere that smells nice, clean and familiar, and that makes a positive difference to our mood and behaviour. Although not as visible or obvious as surface hygiene, a business needs to make provision for clean air too. Air purifiers remove harmful particles and gases to give a more hygienic experience. We have products designed to capture over 99.95% of airborne particles and clean large spaces in under 10 minutes. Having clean air and letting staff and customers know it is safe, means they can be confident and reassured.Heard about our newest innovation, the VIRUSKILLER™? Rentokil Initial is proud to bring this new innovative product to South Africa, make sure to subscribe to this mailing list to be the first notified of it's arrival.
3. Surface hygiene
Surface hygiene doesn’t just need to be tackled in the washroom. All other areas must be taken into consideration too. Any surfaces that are directly touched by the skin – most often the hand – can transmit germs to people. Particular attention needs to be paid to;
- communal areas, such as washrooms, canteens, receptions, kitchens, elevators, changing rooms;
- frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as door handles, floors or equipment and machinery;
- office areas including workstations, desks and storage areas.
To counter this an integrated approach to hygiene – that includes disinfection and sanitising is recommended. Initial offer fully-serviced hygiene solutions, to keep your employees and customers safe. Find out more about surface hygiene from Initial.com.
4. Effective disinfection
If there’s a suspicion or confirmation that a virus has compromised your business then disinfection is highly recommended. Disinfection treatments reassure those visiting or working in your premises that it remains a safe and clean environment.
Show you care and deliver confidence
The spaces that businesses occupy have a significant impact on the day-to-day lives of those who visit. Employees might spend 8 hours or more there. Customers expect to feel comfortable and enjoy being on site. For a business to thrive their environment should feel uplifting and positive. Expectations of hygiene and safety go without saying. But businesses can do more. They should consider wellbeing as a priority. And strive to make people feel that they are being looked after beyond the expected and necessary. Better, safer spaces will benefit any brand by making them a place people want to be in and return to.
Creating a better, and safer, environment:
1. The importance of air quality
Beyond odour it’s impossible under normal circumstances to really be able to assess the quality of the air inside your premises. But the fact remains indoor air can become polluted with microscopic particles of dust and dirt, bacteria, viruses, mould and gases emitted from people, products, fixtures and fittings. We provide solutions that not only allow businesses to monitor air quality, but also to make provision for air purification.
Read this blog to find out more on why businesses need air hygiene to protect their businesses.
2. Prevent dirt and bacteria from being spread by footfall
An area quite often overlooked is, literally, right under your feet. The floor. Dirt you can see, bacteria you can’t, but it’s still there. With effective and hygienic floorcare solutions, not only can you remove most of the problem, but you can also protect the floor and drastically reduce wear and tear. The added bonus is that staff and visitors will look more favourably on your brand too. Initial’s solution here comes from serviced floor mats. They help to reduce a company’s cleaning costs, prolonging the life of flooring and can help to prevent accidents in the workplace.
3. The power of plants
The simple fact is people like plants. Bringing a little piece of the outdoors indoors makes a huge difference to how people feel. Office plants improve productivity, increase people’s engagement, reduce stress levels, and even reduce employee absenteeism. The careful placing of plants makes a massive difference. Social distancing can be planned and maintained. Initial's sister company, Ambius, can assist here with biophilic design that helps businesses go green to benefit their brand.
You can have every confidence in Initial Hygiene services
At Initial, we believe in smart hygiene for smart businesses so you are covered in all key risk areas, not just in the washroom. Our holistic approach will assist you in establishing good hygiene practices across your organisation to create healthier, more hygienic and productive work environments. We install and maintain your hygiene solutions and manage consumables and sanitary waste whilst ensuring compliance with all local legislation and environmental regulations.