Even with vaccination jabs going into more and more arms, the COVID-19 virus remains very much with us. The virus variants remind us we must continue vigilant practices, including wearing masks and social distancing.
With the hope of returning to some form of normalcy, many businesses started calling their workforces back to the physical office. Responsible employers adhere to the safety guidelines surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, but beyond COVID-19, germs and viruses live in our workspaces. We need to protect our employees from contracting viruses that cause such diseases as influenza and the common cold.
In the U.K. alone, over 600 people die from the flu annually. The WHO reports that on a global scale, the flu kills 250,000 to 500,000 people a year. The common cold also leads to complications such as ear and sinus infections.
Areas in the office most likely to harbour germs and viruses:
We don’t need to share hugs or buffet lunches to pick up a virus at the office. Plenty of other spots team with germs and bacteria, ready to make the next victim sick. Of course, we may reduce the airborne culprits by covering coughs and sneezes, but surface germs also pose a problem. Awareness and management of these top spots of concern will help reduce the spread of illness:
- Computer keyboards possess lots of nooks and crannies where germs hide. Try to avoid sharing these items and keep them clean.
- Toilets and bathrooms need a constant supply of hygienic products such as toilet seat covers, feminine products, no contact products for handwashing.
- Desk phones may contain tens of thousands of germs per square inch. Offices that pass around cell phones may face even more significant challenges in controlling germs and bacteria.
- Elevator buttons and doors get touched by a lot of different people. Using a pen to press a button or wearing gloves in the elevator makes more sense than ever.
- Common areas such as a kitchen contain a variety of shared equipment, from coffee makers to microwaves. Shared sponges and brushes may also cause problems.
5 Products you should always keep available in the office:
Encouraging employees to keep their workspaces clean and tidy goes a long way. But in addition, employers should make sure to keep the following supplies readily available:
- Disinfectant wipes and sprays come in handy for all kinds of surface areas. Sprays also help combat airborne contagions. Make sure to read the label carefully and follow the application instructions. It’s essential to keep the disinfectant on long enough for optimum effectiveness.
- Keyboard cleaner and cleaner for electronics get dirt, debris, and dead skin from between the keys. Make sure not to use a disinfectant spray on keyboards.
- Hand sanitizer doesn’t replace handwashing, but it provides an extra layer of protection, especially if you can’t get to soap and water immediately.
- Availability in the washroom of disinfectant soap, air dryers, or other no-contact ways to wash and dry hands represents one of the essential components of a hygienic office.
- Microfibre sponges that wash up quickly along with disposable paper products and methods to keep shared items cleaned between uses will keep the shared kitchen much cleaner and healthier.
These days, the policy to stay home when you feel sick isn’t just something you read in the employee handbook. The ‘don’t come to work sick’ rule needs strict enforcement. Of course, the problem with viruses and bacteria lies in the fact they often start spreading before the carrier becomes symptomatic. A vigilant routine with the right products will help prevent and slow down disease spread in the office.