When it comes to getting things moving again at the office after a long, slow, confusing break where no one was sure if they were coming or going or how to get these distance-work tools to function properly, there is an avalanche of tasks to see to. There are new rules about the spacing of desks, new requirements for employee sign-in, new procedures for dealing with clients and visitors, and new standards of cleanliness.
The following will offer some tips and tricks to help sort out one of these many post-COVID tasks: maintaining office cleanliness. Most of us know that keeping things clean is an excellent part of improving employee health and reducing the risks of all sorts of nasty bacterial and viral situations. This being said, many aren’t quite sure what this cleanliness looks like in practice.
Foremost, you’re going to want to develop a system for daily cleaning. You probably already have a list of things that are done daily, like the washing of the coffee machine or the cleaning of bathrooms. Your new list will likely include these things but also involve a checklist that various employees need to mark off when tasks are completed as well as a system for things that need to be cleaned multiple times per days such as waiting room chairs or elevator buttons or doorknobs.
When creating this task list, look for anything that many people touch multiple times per day. This can include railings along stairs or balconies, microwave buttons, coffee machine buttons, cupboard knobs, and handles.
You’ll also want to check with employees about whether they want to be cleaning certain things themselves or not. For example, someone in IT might prefer to clean the devices that everyone often touches themselves to help ensure that no damage occurs to your technology. Many staff members will likely need to take on a few extra tasks in their day to keep things clean for everyone. Be sure to keep a list of names of those who’ve gone above their typical work to help out. You can use this list when you’re crafting year-end rewards for your staff. This year especially, they’re going to need them.
Weekly cleaning tasks are those that don’t need to be done every day but need to be seen regularly. This probably includes clearing out the company fridge (ideally, on the day before garbage day so there’s not rotting food smelling nasty in the bin outside). It might also include wiping down seldom-used items like hole punches. This is also an excellent time for the moving furniture clean. While we might be mopping or vacuuming daily, at least once per week, we can be pulling chairs and sofas away and cleaning the floor beneath them. Not only will this help keep things clean, but it will also reduce the number of allergens that build up beneath furniture. Fewer allergens mean fewer allergy symptoms for your staff and, therefore, higher rates of productivity. Have you ever tried to write a report when your eyes are watering from seasonal allergies? It’s tough.
Monthly cleaning includes the deeper cleans that you don’t need to be doing on a daily or weekly basis that contributes to a clean and fresh work environment. This might include:
- Washing the walls (even adults run their hands along walls from time to time)
- Wiping down the legs of desks
- Dusting the artwork on the walls
- Changing the water filter and air filter
- Clean out fans and vents
- Cleaning the outside of the fridge and microwave
It can be especially prudent to bring in a team out outside cleaners for this clean as people not from the office are more apt to notice when something is filthy. Many people get used to the sight of things that have slowly discolored over time. Fresh eyes will be able to note that the trim is coated in grime and commercial cleaning services are also apt to be aware of what sort of things need to be cleaned that staff can forget about. If you have the budget, it might even be in your best interest to work with a professional cleaning team more regularly than once per month. Biweekly or weekly cleans are common.
Tackling Storage Areas
Storage areas used by everyone tend to be some of the messiest areas in any office. Coat rooms and staff rooms that are full of people’s personal belongings are prime examples. This type of cleaning is more tricky as you need your staff’s participation; namely, you need everyone to come and get their stuff and bring it home. You will likely have to send out a memo for this and give people lots of time. A good idea is to tell everyone they have between now and a set date (two weeks from now, let’s say) to collect their items, otherwise, things will be donated.
You can contact local charities to find ones that are open to receiving jackets, umbrellas, boots, and bags. Many will likely be eager to take these items off your hands. Be sure to send a few reminder emails during the period where staff is supposed to be collecting their possessions.
Look Into Air Filtration
It turns out the air inside buildings is pretty nasty: shockingly full of toxins, pollutants, and other particles. Indoor air is actually more toxic than outdoor air due to: perfumes, fragrances, cooking fumes, mold, mildew, dust, VOCs (volatile organic compounds are known carcinogens that get released in the air from new carpets, painting, and non-flammable furniture, and they tend to circulate for about a year), and even cleaning products. Setting up a good air filtration system can boost people’s moods, energy levels, productivity, memory, and concentration levels, in addition to helping protect staff from viruses and bacteria).
The above tips should help you get your office clean and safe and keep it that way in the coming months and years. Of course, if your work requires the use of additional chemicals or products, you’ll also want to continue your regular safety cleaning of those hazards in tandem with the above.