It’s been the case for a while – and particularly in the last two years – that the importance of workplace cleanliness and hygiene has been emphasized far and wide. Keeping desks clean, decontaminating computers and their hardware on a regular basis, and ensuring workers are aware of their responsibilities – all of these are messages worth reinforcing. However, it’s often the case that out of sight means out of mind. While most of the messages have focused on keeping the office clean and free of contaminants, a greater focus may be needed on the common areas of an office, particularly the restrooms.
We can all be forgiven for being a little squeamish about lavatory stuff, but there is no getting around it – these are areas that see more traffic than any part of the office because people need to go there. Each individual desk needs to be kept clean, yes, but most people in your office won’t drop by to speak to Janice in Accounts. Most people will use the restrooms at least once in a work shift, so they are where any focus on workplace hygiene must begin. And to ensure they are kept in the best shape possible, the following points are essential.
Minimal points of contact where possible
It’s in the bathroom that most of us are most liable to let our guard down, and this is not great news during a pandemic or any kind of epidemic. The restroom may be cleaned multiple times per day, but unless it was cleaned between every point of use, it would still present a bigger risk of contamination than any other area of the office. So you want to minimize the points of contact for each member of staff, which is why each sink should have a commercial touchless faucet and you should avoid a hand-towel dispenser in favor of contact-free options. This will remain the case even when Covid has paled into insignificance.
Ensure cleaning is sequenced properly
To keep contamination to a minimum, it is essential to ensure that cleaning does not merely move contaminants from one place to another. This necessitates a sequence of cleaning that ensures all particles and germs are disposed of rather than just moved around. In practice, this means that flat surfaces should be cleaned first – such as the areas around sinks, and any shelves. This can mean particles are dislodged and land on the floor, from where they can be moved around the office – so next, the floor needs to be cleaned. After this is done, a sweep-up should follow, with all sweepings deposited in a garbage can. The bag in said can should then be removed and replaced.
Regular deeper cleans are essential
Even when all the best practices are followed, there is always going to be a need for less-frequent deeper cleans. Short of putting every employee in a Hazmat suit for the duration of a shift, there will be matter that escapes and settles in the bathroom from time to time. A deeper clean entails scrubbing and disinfecting surfaces, cleaning toilets and urinals inside and out, cleaning and polishing all mirrors and shiny surfaces to a spotless finish, and removing all watermarks and similar spots. One speck or spot can be a place where bacteria gather and grow, so this deep clean should be weekly.
Keep soap and paper well stocked
Obviously, your employees will need to take some responsibility for keeping the facilities clean after use, and this is something that should be impressed upon them all the more given our very recent lesson in the dangers of contamination. However, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to follow this advice. They should certainly be washing their hands after any visit to the restroom for any reason – so make sure there is always enough soap to allow everyone to do this. Every stall should be stocked with enough paper and this should be followed up on multiple times a day. People should not need to be moving around the bathroom before they have washed their hands.
There has been a greater focus than ever on keeping workplaces hygienic since the onset of the Covid pandemic. But in reality, even if there isn’t a wider public health emergency, keeping the facilities at your workplace clean and free of contamination is an essential consideration – and one that should be emphasized at all levels of the business. The reward for doing so will be a healthier, happier workplace.