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Spring into action

An annual spring clean provides the perfect opportunity to rejuvenate a workplace and re-evaluate its cleaning strategy, says George Hand of Office Depot

The spring clean has been a tradition in one form or another for centuries. The act of cleaning out and decluttering our homes after the winter is not only hygienic, but acts as a rejuvenation; an opportunity for reflection and readjustment. The same can apply to the workplace. By taking advantage of an office spring clean, businesses can reduce unnecessary stress associated with an untidy office and boost employee productivity.

A spring clean can also have a positive impact on employee sickness rates, as a hygienic office is less likely to engender the spread of harmful germs and bacteria. However, to truly achieve all the potential benefits of a workplace cleaning strategy, attention should first be paid to the facilities management strategy, which may also benefit from a similar overhaul.

FMs shouldn’t just see the spring clean as an opportunity to create a more sanitary working environment, but also as an opportunity for re-evaluation. Choosing products can become routine, with the same choices being made over and over again – but selections should always be changing and updating. Specific products being procured should be regularly reviewed to ensure they are still up to scratch in terms of environmental impact or cost efficiency. For instance, microfibre cloths are constantly improving, as they achieve a similar standard of cleaning while using reduced amounts of chemicals and water.

The search for products which are efficient, yet cause minimal damage to the environment, can be confusing, not helped by the vast array of accreditations and certifications to be found on eco-labels. Proper research is essential and manufacturers should ensure that cleaning product marques and labels are easy for customers to understand.

Where organisations may previously have been buying prediluted chemicals, a switch to buying bulk loads of concentrate and utilising a dilution control system might be a smart choice to make. These systems use dispensers to manage and regulate the amount of concentrate needed to achieve a high cleaning standard, requiring less storage space and fewer deliveries.

Reducing the number of deliveries is a desirable factor when reviewing supply activity, both from a cost and environmental perspective. By consolidating the supply chain and purchasing cleaning tools and chemicals from partners who can provide a range of products, rather than from a host of different suppliers, businesses can unlock hidden advantages.

Overactive supply activities can have a big impact on an organisation’s carbon footprint, so there are significant environmental benefits to be had. Additionally, partnering with a single supplier will help to build a worthwhile and mutually beneficial relationship, where trust and loyalty can result in discounts and other related perks.

When it comes to actually conducting a thorough clean of the workplace, it’s important to communicate with staff. Employees should be made aware that they have individual responsibilities towards maintaining a tidy and hygienic working environment.

While some employees may already be on top of this, it may still be worth regularly reminding the entire workforce to clear their desks at the end of the day, securely disposing of unwanted files and washing up any mugs, cutlery or plates they have used. By creating a joined-up approach to office upkeep, with each employee doing their bit on a regular basis, organisations can make sure the office is clean and tidy while also removing the need for expansive cleaning and tidying sessions in the future.

This also applies to workplace washrooms. Bad hygiene often begins in the washrooms, with poor personal hygiene leading to the spread of harmful bacteria. The office spring clean is a good opportunity to review the washrooms and ensure employees are educated on proper practice when it comes to their personal hygiene.

Employees will hopefully be washing their hands as an unthinking matter of routine, but many may be unaware that it is widely recommended that hands should be washed for a minimum of 20 seconds to ensure the process is effective. Simple signage could be placed in washrooms reminding employees of this.

It might also be a good idea to review the choice of hand soap. Some consider alcohol-based sanitisers as a good way to go, and their effectiveness has been proven, but they can be harsh on the skin and employees may be put off from using them. FMs might also want to consider other ways to stop germs in their tracks, such as sensor-operated taps and pedal-operated bins (if not already in use).

The physical design of a washroom can have a serious impact on how efficient and effective it is to clean. Modern washroom layouts tend to be less cluttered than traditional bathrooms, with fixtures and fittings easier to access. Buildings with more aged washrooms might benefit from an overhaul of washroom design.

An office spring clean presents the perfect opportunity for FMs to freshen the workplace, rejuvenate cleaning policies, improve workplace hygiene and craft a tidy and sanitary environment. It can only help to banish winter blues and raise employee morale in readiness for the brighter days ahead.

About Sarah OBeirne

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