The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our perceptions of office cleanliness. The focus has shifted from wanting a clean office environment – shelves dusted, floors vacuumed and mopped, trash removed – to needing a sanitized office environment.
With all your other return-to-office priorities, rethinking your office cleaning plan can seem overwhelming. But with the right techniques, these checklists, and three straightforward strategies, your office will be ready to welcome your employees back to a sanitized workspace.
What this blog post covers:
- Is Your Office Clean or Sanitized? (hint: they aren’t the same thing)
- Is Your Cleaning Team Following Up-to-Date Protocols?
- Why are Sanitation Checklists Important?
- 1: Set Up Sanitization Stations
- 2: Reduce the Number of High-Touch Surfaces
- 3: Have a Specific Sanitation Plan if an Employee is Diagnosed with COVID-19
Is your office clean or sanitized? Know the difference.
It’s important to understand the difference between cleaning and sanitizing. Cleaning removes particulates like dirt and grime with soap and water. Sanitizing destroys bacteria and viruses, usually by chemical means.
Cleaning is an important first step for office sanitation. Visibly dirty surfaces should always be cleaned before disinfecting. Wipe surfaces with an all-purpose cleaner even if the surface is not visibly dirty. Then go back over the surface with a disinfectant. According to the CDC, using disinfectants to kill the remaining bacteria and viruses on a surface after cleaning “further reduces any risk of spreading infection.”
Is your cleaning team following up-to-date protocols? Time to check in!
Review your cleaning and sanitation protocols to ensure they are updated for COVID-19. Your internal facilities team and cleaning service should have clear answers for the following questions:
- How is the cleaning service protecting and preparing their employees? Cleaning staff should be provided with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The CDC recommends cleaning staff to wear disposable gloves and gowns for all cleaning and disinfecting tasks.
- What cleaning and sanitizing products will be used? Confirm that they are using disinfectants that are approved by the EPA for use against COVID-19. You can find the list here.
- What is the cleaning service doing to prevent running out of supplies due to supply chain issues? It is recommended to keep a 30 day supply to cover any gaps.
- How has the cleaning service adjusted their cleaning procedures? There should be an emphasis on high touch surfaces and proper contact time for disinfectants. Contact time is how long the disinfectant needs to sit on the surface before being wiped away to ensure effectiveness.
Share our checklists below with your cleaning team to make sure you are on the same page about expectations. Work with your cleaning service to determine the schedule for office sanitation. Use Worksphere to plan for what areas or workspaces are being used and occupied and may need additional cleaning.
Why are Sanitation Checklists Important?
As you reopen your office, sanitation checklists are essential for ensuring your work spaces are properly cleaned and sanitized. Checklists can also:
- Create a sense of confidence that appropriate safety measures have been considered when employees return to the office.
- Set clear expectations regarding sanitation policies for internal and external teams.
- Provide proof of compliance with sanitation guidelines.
- Allow your team to review and update safety protocols.
Strategy One: Set up Sanitation Stations Throughout Your Office
Sanitation stations are conveniently located employee access points for sanitizing supplies. These stations enable employees to contribute to your office safety measures and increases personal responsibility and confidence in sanitizing personal workstations. And employees want access. According to a recent Qualtrics study, 70% of Americans want their company to ensure that hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies are available throughout the office at all times.
Where should we locate sanitation stations?
Offices can set stations up in each conference room and several throughout the shared seating area in your office. For open-format offices, we recommend one station for every 10 employees or 900 sq. feet (300 sq. meters).
Start by selecting strategic locations that employees can easily spot. Keep social distancing in mind by avoiding locating any stations within 6ft (2m) of employees’ desks or other seating areas. In addition, make sure supplies are kept out of reach of furry friends if your office is pet-friendly.
What supplies should we provide at our sanitation stations and how should they be stocked?
At a minimum, each station should have single-use nitrile gloves, a spray bottle of disinfectant, paper towels, hand sanitizer, and a waste basket. If needed, you can also include extras like disposable masks. Make sure every item is clearly labeled, and include instructions for use (especially the required contact time for disinfectant).
Because you want employees to utilize sanitation supplies as advised, remember to post signage indicating your company’s expectations. Don’t forget to designate who will be responsible for monitoring the supplies at each station and keeping them stocked. If your office has a cleaning service, this may be something they can do for you.
How will employees know how to use the sanitation stations?
Proper use of the sanitation stations should be included in your Return to Office Training. We recommend requiring employees to sanitize their desks before and after use, especially if you are using flexible seating like hoteling or hotdesking. If you are planning to set up flexible seating in your office instead of dedicated desks, technology like Worksphere’s scheduling tools can help with seating assignments, ensure flexible areas are under capacity limits, and help track which desks should be cleaned by your cleaning service each day.
Strategy Two: Reduce the Number of High-Touch Surfaces in your Office
Every surface that someone touches is a surface that needs to be sanitized. Replace high-touch surfaces or items in your office with lower-touch alternatives. Some examples:
- Prop open interior doors or install automatic door openers. Hang signage to notify staff that they need to remain open.
- Add motion activated or no-touch appliances like light switches, faucets, paper towel dispensers, and waste bins.
- Switch to single-use or single-serving products. For example, replace communal products with single-serving or individually packaged coffee creamer, snacks, water bottles, and boxed lunch.
For surfaces that are inherently high-touch, set up sanitizer wipes and hang signs instructing employees to sanitize after use. Provide hand sanitizer so that employees are able to sanitize their hands before and after use. These surfaces include:
- Refrigerator door handles
- Printers and copy machines
- Supply cabinets
- Kitchen drawers
Strategy Three: Have a Specific Office Sanitation Plan after a Known COVID-19 Exposure
If someone in the office is diagnosed with COVID-19, a clear plan of action can reduce the risk to your business and your employees. First, check when they were last in the office over the two weeks prior to their diagnosis. You’ll need to identify other employees who may have been in contact with them and alert them to the exposure so they can take necessary steps to get tested and quarantine.
With Worksphere’s contact tracing tool you can quickly report on what days employees shared the office, which other employees they may have come in contact with, and their level of exposure.
The CDC advises closing off the areas where the infected person has been and opening exterior doors and windows and using ventilation fans to increase air circulation. If possible, wait 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting to help reduce exposure of cleaning staff to airborne droplets. Next, clean and sanitize all areas used by the individual. This includes offices, bathrooms, kitchens and common rooms. You should also clean and sanitize all shared equipment they may have used with a special focus on frequently touched surfaces.
Experts constantly update guidance on best practices as the research evolves. We strongly recommend that you familiarize yourself with industry-specific safety and sanitation recommendations on OSHA’s COVID-19 Resource Page and the CDC.