On the 23rd of March 2020 President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a nationwide lockdown. And on the 26th of March 2020 most of us packed up our equipment (to try "working from home"), picked up the kids from school for the last time in a long time, and ventured into the unknown.I’m sure you’ll agree that the year 2020 will be remembered for COVID-19 and that its reach stretches much further than a “fear of the virus”. COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way we do things. Whether you're going to your local supermarket or to work, you no longer just grab your keys and wallet - you now have to also grab your mask, hand sanitiser and occasionally a face shield. One also can’t ignore the anxiety that COVID-19 has created, especially when people need to return to work.
A poll done for the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management concluded that more than a third (34%) of workers were concerned about getting used to a corporate office culture again after lockdown. The results also highlighted that 59% of office-based employees are worried about being able to maintain social distancing in the workplace.
For employers, the anxiety has been two-fold. In addition to their personal stresses, they had to focus on creating a continuously safe and hygienic environment for their employees to return to and operate in. These health and safety measures aren’t just Government mandated, they are a critical step to help employees settle back into work with confidence and to drive productivity.
Which safety measures have been instated generally?
Depending on the type of organisation and the office layout, employers have used a combination of solutions to maintain a continuously safe and hygienic environment including;
- Hand hygiene solution which includes soap and paper towels or air hand dryers.
- Bathroom hygiene solution including a bathroom deep clean and toilet seat sanitisers to minimise the spread of pathogens caused by the sneeze effect.
- Mounted hand sanitiser units or hand sanitiser stands placed strategically to allow people to sanitise their hands often near hygiene risk hotspots.
- Specialist Disinfection Services, to treat the general office or warehouse environment.
- Disinfection mats at the office entrance.
- PPE disposal units
- Signage that addresses social distancing, reminders to sign in at reception and to wear a mask.
- Physical barriers to promote social distancing. I recommend you speak to Ambius about how you can use plants to create barriers. It not only addresses your need but also provides a host of additional benefits.
- Air purification solutions are being installed to improve air quality within the workplace. At Initial, we recommend the InspireAir 72 because it has a multi-layer HEPA 13 filter that captures over 99.95% (European HEPA 13 standard) / 99.97% (US HEPA 13 standard) of airborne particles larger than 0.3 microns.
You may have also seen some industry-specific measures like vehicle disinfection services being done for delivery and logistics vehicles and trolley disinfection booths outside shops and shopping centres.
Employers are also re-looking their current systems. Many employers are moving away from fingerprint scanners and towards using key cards; employees are encouraged to use one set of cutlery and crockery when at the office (their own) and many companies have employed flexible working hours and work from home policies.
Our workplace will continue to evolve as we become smarter at managing our ‘new normal’. Download our returning to work guide for more information and useful tips to help you keep your workforce protected.
What does the future hold?
At Rentokil Initial we are constantly looking at new ways of improving our hygiene solutions to enhance your environment and to keep you safe. In addition to current technologies like no touch solutions, globally, we are working on a smart hygiene solution called Rapid>SmartHygiene.
With this technology, we are able to improve the overall bathroom experience though smart soap and water management, toilet and urinal flushing solutions and our light-based bathroom cubicle occupancy management system. These solutions are geared towards meeting sustainability goals by understanding resource usage and cleaning schedules. This analysis enables our customers to improve their bathroom management and improve customer and staff satisfaction.
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