30 Jul 2019, 12:10

Flexible Workspaces – How to maintain a high level of hygiene

As flexible working practices become more popular, office space has evolved to accommodate these new practices. In London alone, more than 21% of all commercial office leases are for co-working space, and it’s a similar story across the rest of the UK.

Whether you offer flexible hours and hotdesking within your own office, or operate out of a shared workspace, the main benefits are affordability, scalability and reduced overheads.

The benefits are not restricted to just cost savings, either. By providing flexible working options to employees, you improve morale, make your business more attractive to prospective employees, and improve retention and staff commitment.

So, what are the downsides?

With all these people milling round at all times of the day (and possibly night) keeping on top of a strict cleaning regime can be difficult.

Germs, bugs and illnesses can easily spread when several people share the same working spaces, so bad hygiene practices can quickly lead to an increase in sickness absence and a fall in productivity.

Mitigating these risks is simple, if you follow a strict and effective cleaning and hygiene strategy.

Keep kitchens and toilets clean

Each office is different, but you can bet that the toilets and kitchens are where you’re likely to find some of the highest concentration of bacteria. Other potential hotspots are door handles, railings and lift buttons. Basically, anywhere with a high footfall and regular hand contact.

These areas demand special attention.

In a recent experiment, scientists placed a harmless virus on one door handle within an office. Within four hours, that virus had spread to half of the surfaces in the building.

This highlights the need for thorough regular cleaning, and good hand hygiene.

Good hand hygiene

Good hand hygiene remains the best defence against infection, but it needs to be practised by all staff and visitors alike.

Our hands are responsible for spreading 80 per cent of infectious diseases, and 1 in 5 people do not wash their hands after visiting the toilet.

Promote good hygiene practices. Encourage people to wash their hands by running awareness campaigns and placing posters in strategic places around the office. Also make sure that hand washing facilities are available to staff at all times. This includes warm water, soap, and hand towels or hand dryers.

Here is a handy guide from the World Health Organisation (WHO) around good handwashing technique: https://www.who.int/gpsc/clean_hands_protection/en/

A good cleaning contractor

Good hand hygiene will only get you so far if the day-to-day cleaning and hygiene management plan for the office is not up to scratch.

As mentioned before, a good cleaning contractor will identify the germ hotspots and devise a bespoke cleaning regime specific to your office. For shared workspaces, this should include the regular cleaning and sanitisation of desks, phones, keyboards and mice.

You may wish to consider providing antibacterial cleaning wipes to encourage employees to clean surfaces and equipment before use. If practised by everyone, this is an inexpensive way to prevent the outbreak of illnesses.

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet. Instead, facilities managers need to employ a range of tactics to prevent the spread of sickness throughout the office, something that is probably best handled by a reliable and professional cleaning contractor.

NuServe is one of London’s leading commercial cleaning contractors and specialise in cleaning and office supply services for London’s shared workspaces.