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August 2021

5 ways to keep staff safe when they can't work remotely

Written by Nathalie Leblond
Workplace Hygiene

Our latest blog looks at 5 ways to keep those employees who cannot work remotely, safe and hygienic.

It should come as no surprise that hygiene - more than ever before - is on everyone's minds. And especially on the minds of those employees who - for whatever reason - may not have a job that allows for remote working. Shop assistants, healthcare workers, truck drivers, certain call centre agents are just a few of the roles that spring to mind, but many office workers too have been required to come back to the workplace.

Research carried out by The Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: ‘Brand Trust and the Coronavirus Pandemic’ discovered that 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 health and safety to be taken seriously by their employers if they are not able to work from the safety of their own homes. And more than ever before, employees are hygiene savvy and know what provisions should be adopted to keep them safe.

Research done by Rentokil Initial in March 2021 proves that point. We found that 65% of respondents expect the company they work for to provide regular disinfection services. 50% believe the office should be cleaned once a day, 40% believe it should be twice a day. You can download an infographic of that survey here.

Businesses have a critical role to play in protecting staff and customers from the risk of COVID-19 and other transmissible illnesses, and require hygiene solutions in place that are effective 24/7. 

Here are 5 ways to keep staff safe, if they cant work remotely: 

1. Go back to basics:  

There's no better place to start than the staff bathrooms. Keeping workers safe from illness starts by ensuring that the basics of good hand hygiene can be practiced, which is washing and drying hands properly.  Initial supplies a wide range of high-quality consumable hygiene products for your bathroom. including soap, sanitiser, and paper towel.

Bathroom Hygiene Products

Bathrooms also have a multitude of surfaces where cross-contamination can occur. Initial has a range of scientifically proven surface wipes and sprays that kill up to 99.99% of bacteria. 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 cleaning in your bathroom. 

2. Ensure hygienic indoor air: 

Given what we know about Coronavirus being airborne, the quality of the air inside any workplace where people gather should be a major concern for employers.

And while COVID-19 may have provided the wake-up call businesses need to focus on improving IAQ, the fact is that the air we breathe has never been good for business. Poorly ventilated indoor air that is endlessly recycled and clogged with particulates, bacteria, and toxic fumes affects employees mood, productivity, and workplace performance. 

But adequately treating shared and recirculated air requires specialised technology.
VIRUSKILLER™ air purifiers remove harmful particles and gases to give a more hygienic experience. VIRUSKILLER™ units are designed to capture over 99.9999% of airborne particles including Coronavirus* and clean large spaces in under 10 minutes. You can read more about this revolutionary technology on our previous post on: Behind the design of the next air care revolution: VIRUSKILLER™

The benefit of acquiring VIRUSKILLER™ clean air technology to a business is ultimately the protection of the health and wellbeing of employees and customers, as well as crucial peace of mind that your business is fulfilling its duty of care to look after the health and wellbeing of all employees. 

3. Sanitisers for high-touch hotspots:  

It’s not just on entry that people expect to have access to hand sanitisers. Any surfaces that are directly touched by the skin – most often the hands – can transmit germs to people. Particular attention needs to be paid to germ hotspots such as;

  • communal areas, such as bathrooms, canteens, receptions, kitchens, elevators, changing rooms;
  • frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as door handles, fingerprint scanners, floors, equipment and machinery;
  • office areas including workstations, desks and storage areas.

Initial has a range of options to cover all situations, including our SaniGreen hand sanitiser stand: an elegant, no-touch hand sanitising station that incorporates the positive impact of plants.

Initial Hygiene SaniGreen Hand Sanitizer Foot Stand for reception area

4. Review your meeting policy: 

Meeting rooms, by their very nature, are usually enclosed with limited ventilation.  We would suggest that - if at all possible - all in-person / physical meetings should be suspended, unless you have a VIRUSKILLER air purifier unit in your meeting room. 

If you absolutely have to hold meetings in-person, make sure that your meeting rooms are well provisioned with hand sanitiser, that colleagues wear their masks (properly) throughout the entire meeting, and that meeting rooms are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between each meeting.

And possibly also look at your canteen. How good is the ventilation in there, especially as colleagues in canteens will be taking off masks to eat and drink. And how many colleagues are allowed to be present at any given time? Canteens are another excellent location for a VIRUSKILLER air purifier. 

Institute a no hand-shaking policy, and remind colleagues to sanitise regularly through the use of posters. Initial has a range of downloadable hygiene resource material that you can use to promote good hygiene practices in your workplace. 

5. Review hot-desking policies:  

Hygiene risks of hot-desking during COVID-19

In one of our very early blog posts we reviewed the policy of hot-desking, and the hygiene risks associated with this practice.

Back in 2017 - well before any global pandemic concerns - Initial swabbed more than 100 workstations in a fixed desk environment and repeated the swabbing after the same company moved to a hot-desk environment. Back then, we found that microbiological activity is 18% higher in hot-desking office environments.

“Shared computer mice in the hot-desking environment had a 41% higher microbiological reading compared to readings taken from the computer mice on the fixed-desks. Desk surfaces were also found to be less contaminated with microbial activity in offices with fixed-desks, recording average readings 32% lower than in the hot-desk office.”

We believe that discouraging employees from using each other's phones, desks or equipment can go a long way to ensuring colleague safety and wellbeing.

Taking note and implementing these 5 hygiene suggestions in your workplace will go a long way in keeping the employees who have to be in the workplace safe. Download our Ultimate Guide to Hand Hygiene to help remind staff of the importance that their basic hygiene has on those around them.

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Nathalie Leblond

Nathalie Leblond

I joined Rentokil Initial South Africa in 2004 as the PA to the MD, and after 6 months maternity leave I re-joined the Company in 2009 as the Marketing Co-ordinator for Rentokil. I'm now the Marketing Communication Manager for Rentokil Initial. I'm still terrified of cockroaches (Americana's only!) but the rest of the creepy crawlies we deal with don't really bug me (see what I did there?), so I guess I'm in the right industry! I am passionate about what we do here at Rentokil Initial and also write for our Hygiene Blog, which can be found at blog.initial.co.za, and our Ambius blog - https://www.ambius.co.za/blog. Life outside of Rentokil Initial mostly revolves around my daughter, who has just turned twelve, and my husband (who is a bit older). I love living in Cape Town and wouldn't trade living here for anywhere else in the world.

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The Ultimate Guide to Safe Sanitary Waste Disposal from the experts in hygiene, Initial Hygiene South Africa

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Ensure that your organisation meets the legal requirements for the disposal of sanitary waste by learning what constitutes sanitary waste and how you should dispose of it, in this comprehensive guide on the subject.
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