Health and Safety News

Occupational health and safety news and guidance

What is your office hygiene saying about you?

Photo shows a carpet cleaner

A clean work environment is vital for your business. It presents a professional image for your company, creates a healthier environment for your staff and boosts morale overall. It’s not enough to simply run a hoover over the carpet and empty the bins every week – if you’re serious about productivity and want to create a better environment, you need to look at the areas you’ve been neglecting.

Problem Area: Desks

You’re no micro-manager, and telling staff keep their desks tidy will guarantee a coup from Creative. What’s a little clutter? Actually, that clutter is harbouring about 400% more bacteria than the average toilet seat.

Your thinking: Everyone works in their own way, I don’t want to be a dictator.

What it actually says: You’re letting your staff descend into chaos and promoting the spread of sickness.

Clean-desk policies might seem a bit Big Brother, and working in a comfortable – not clinical – space is more likely to inspire your employees. That said, make sure your staff are empowered to tidy up when they need to.

Make sure each desk can easily access a bin and a shredder (or at least a confidential waste deposit). Supply organisation basics like pin boards, desk caddies and in-trays, and provide disinfectant wipes for keyboards, mouses and phone handsets.

Problem Area: Break Room

Staff don’t want to eat at their desks, but any designated eating area is enough to put them off their lunch.

Your thinking: Staff shouldn’t get too cosy – it’s not their living room. Any mess is their problem.

What it actually says: You don’t care about your employees beyond the perimeter of their desk.

Unfortunately, there are always a few employees that seem to have missed house-training, but that doesn’t mean your whole staff should suffer. Invest a bit of time de-cluttering, sanitising and making break areas feel a little more inviting.

Hold a fridge amnesty every Friday for your teams to remove or bin any leftovers, and once it’s empty, gently disinfect the interior. Microwaves are also a regular offender, but a quick wipe every afternoon should keep it fresh enough. Stubborn marks can be loosened using a bowl of lemon-juice-infused water, microwaved for five minutes. Keep the oft-forgotten hand towels and dish towels washed, and ensure that the sink draining area is cleaned as well as the sink.

Make sure tables are empty at the end of every day, and let staff know that unclaimed items will be considered rubbish if they are still there on Monday morning.

Problem Area: Toilets:

Every desk has a squashy chair and an ergonomic keyboard, but when nature calls, your staff find themselves taking a two-minute discomfort break.

Your thinking: Basic bathrooms will deter dawdling

What it actually says: Your employees are expected to be machines without bodily functions.

Restore dignity and improve staff health by keeping bathrooms well stocked, a pleasant temperature and in good order. Mirrors, sinks and counters need to be disinfected daily, as do toilets and the adjacent floor area. Floors, walls and surfaces (including mirrors) should be wiped clean of water marks, and dispensers for soap, toilet roll, hand towels and air freshener should be kept topped up as a priority. Install sanitation bins in every female cubicle, and hire a specialist firm to empty them regularly.

Problem Area: Outside

You’ve been patting yourself on the back as you read this, because, frankly, your office is immaculate. Your staff facilities look like they’ve been designed by a Californian tech giant, and everyone’s jaw drops when they walk in the door. Well, maybe that’s because it doesn’t match up to the expectations set outside.

Your thinking: Work happens inside the building; the bubble ends at the front door

What it actually says: Your Company has inconsistent attention to detail

The outside of your building is the first experience your visitors will have of your premises. It doesn’t matter if it’s pristine inside; half the story has already been told. Get on the phone to the best landscaping, grounds keeping and building cleaning Newcastle can offer, pronto.

Tidy up car parks and flowerbeds, and look into low-maintenance solutions that keep them tidy all year round. Windows need quarterly refreshes to stay gleaming, and the outer walls of your building will thank you for clearing them of moss, graffiti and pollution. Keeping the exterior of your building clean will make your stand out from your neighbours, and show how thorough your firm’s professionalism goes.

Show your employees how much you value them, and don’t let your unloved areas of your business speak louder than the work you produce. A clean office will boost productivity, morale, and wow your clients for all the right reasons.

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