The modern-day working environment has been irrevocably changed by the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic. But safety, health and cleanliness measures for your office or factory is about much more than fighting COVID19, and it involves much more than just soap and water.
“The pandemic is an understandable first issue to think of when one talks about workplace cleaning. I believe however that the conversation should be spread wider to also look at how offices and factories have started to change before the virus arrived, and how these changes will more than likely continue long after the coronavirus pandemic has subsided,” says the Group CEO of Fidelity Services Wahl Bartmann.
Fidelity Cleaning Services is a member of the Fidelity Services Group and provides specialised cleaning services to corporate customers.
Productivity and efficiency were key design drivers for places of work in the past, but Bartmann believes that safety and cleanliness have now moved up the list of considerations.
For those companies who will still operate from a physical brick-and-mortar building, they will need to ensure physical distancing as a first step to protect the health of their staff and customers.
“As a cleaning industry, we need to show our customers that we understand the importance of strict healthcare and safety measures when it comes to workplace cleaning, as well as the changing environment within which our customers are operating. It should not matter if you are cleaning an office to prevent the spread of the coronavirus or just doing a more ‘routine’ deep clean, your focus should be on the best interest of your customer at all times,” says Bartmann.
“The pandemic has tested most aspects of the South African economy, and the cleaning sector is no exception. We have all had to learn how to reinvent ourselves and how to put the safety and health of our customers and personnel front and centre in everything we do and protect them from the coronavirus. Operators in the cleaning industry need to ensure they are up to date with latest cleaning protocols that have been set down for the sector.”
Bartmann explains other matters that should be part of any conversation about workplace cleanliness:
- Air quality: Ventilation and maximising fresh air in a workplace has been thrusted into the limelight by the pandemic. More people are now concerned by the risks of small rooms or confined spaces where infectious airborne particles can quickly multiply and create a hotbed for cross-contamination.
- Layout changes: Open plan offices might have been stimulating for efforts to encourage staff engagement and creativity, but it also makes the potential transmission of infectious air-borne particles much easier. This might now necessitate some rotation of team members.
- The return of the tea trolley: Workplace kitchens can inadvertently become a confined space where people gather for lunch or tea, and potentially infect each other if sick. This might mean that hot beverages such as coffee of tea will now be served directly at people’s desks.
- Screening and health vetting: The completion of some form of health questionnaire for any visitor or delivery person might end up become standard procedure well into the future. Building managers will be able to protect the safety of their employees and the cleanliness of the facility by strictly vetting any outside visitors before giving them access.
- Meetings for meetings’ sake: Back-to-back meetings in small, cramped meeting rooms pose a risk to the health and well-being of those involved. Video and virtual meetings will replace these in-person meetings, and meeting rooms will be upgraded to incorporate video conferencing technology.
- More frequent, and more deeper cleaning: Companies are asking for more regular cleaning of their premises, and for more detailed cleaning since the start of the pandemic. This will more than likely stay with us for the foreseeable future.
- Better engagement with customers: Customers want to know what products are being used, how you are cleaning their premises, and that you have their best interests in mind at all times. Questions can be expected, and honest engagement is the best course to follow.
“We are halfway through 2021 and still no one is entirely sure of what the year holds in store for us. The best way to approach the remainder of 2021 is to remember the hard lessons that 2020 has taught us, so that we are as best prepared as possible for what lies ahead. “The cleaning industry has an enormous responsibility that rests on its shoulders to guide South Africans safely into the future,” says Bartmann.