So, you’ve expanded, more people are coming in, business is booming – congratulations! Prepare to wage a war you never knew existed – the war on germs. As a business owner, the responsibility of maintaining hygienic conditions rests solely on you. With the influx of people on your payroll, the problem of maintaining said levels of hygiene grows exponentially. Solid working conditions make people happy, when people are happy – they’re more productive and stay much longer. This is why keeping your office space spick and span can have a huge impact on the future of your company.
Rule Number One: Hand Sanitizer
Most offices only have hand sanitizer present in the bathrooms, some don’t even keep sanitizer in stock. This has to change. Whatever the work environment and whatever the job description, germs are everywhere. Mounting hand sanitizers around walls in the office will be immensely useful during flu season and other outbreaks, keeping employees clean and healthy. Another benefit of installing these around the office is the increased productivity – a short walk to the hand sanitizer is much more efficient than going to a bathroom, leaving your employees with more time to work.
Designate Areas for Eating and/or Drinking
This usually goes without saying but, prohibit the ingestion of any food or drink within the workspace. Water coolers are fine, but eating and/or drinking in front of a desk is both unhygienic and distracting for others. Designating a specific area for food and drink can be challenging for smaller businesses as office space is already tight, but it is a very important investment. This not only keeps the general work area clean, it also eliminates the appearance of odors, stains, damaged office equipment (spills), and trash everywhere. If finding space is not an option, incentivize eating out to compensate.
When you do manage to designate some space specifically for food and drink – keep it in order. Certain perishables take less than a business day to start giving both you and your employees headaches. Nip these in the bud early on by providing instructional posters and reminders for all workers to clean after themselves responsibly and efficiently. Clear out the refrigeration units on a weekly basis and have them washed to avoid any odors. All and any leftovers should be disposed of at the end of every week, making every Monday, pardon the pun, a fresh start.
Set Up a Garbage Disposal System
Tying into what was mentioned above, a well-thought-out garbage plan will make sure any unwanted substances can be dealt with efficiently. Set up disposal units at strategic points around the office, making sure that they’re both visible and never near employee desks. This eliminates the accumulation of junk around the office and contains any odors within a specific area – as long as they’re emptied regularly of course. This opens the door to work in several bins down the line, each for different materials (pldastic, paper, cans etc), making the company greener in the process.
Allow Sick Days
Regardless of all your preparation, an outbreak is going to occur and one of your employees is bound to get hit by it. In these situations, it is more a question of damage control as opposed to prevention. The damage has already been done, so the next step is to contain the problem – give the worker a sick day or two—they can even work from home if need be. This may lead to a drop in performance for a day or two, but still beats having the issue spread across the office and take out your entire staff.
This is often a problem when first taking on a larger staff – upscaling. The problem with this is that there is no rule of thumb, no ratio to follow in order to figure how many supplies you’ll actually need. This is why the best approach is to get everything in bulk, it’s generally better to overstock on things like hand wipes for bathrooms than to run out four hours before the work day is done. These situations lead into people not having anything to dry their hands with or clean their dishes, creating a sort of domino effect, toppling everything you’ve worked so hard to accomplish.
Form a Cleaning Schedule
Depending on your staff, cleaning schedules will vary, but the point is still the same – they’re a necessity. When consulted, the commercial cleaning service company Cleanworks recommended a modest cleaning schedule of two to three times a week for smaller businesses with only a handful of people. However, they do recommend that desks be cleaned every day to ensure cleanliness. A professional cleaning staff will take care of every nook and cranny that you might have overlooked and will keep an air of professionalism about – making the office actually feel like one.
Educate your Employees
Sad to say, but this is becoming more and more of a necessity in the business world. Some people are, for lack of a better term – slobs. There’s no going around it, we all have that one friend and/or coworker that needs a post-it to remember to shower in the morning. When you’ve set up everything to keep your office clean, take the time to inform and educate your employees, otherwise all that hard work might have been for nothing. Set ground rules for office hygiene, and make sure they adhere to it—you’re the boss after all.
The Bottom Line
Keeping an office clean is akin to the trial of Sisyphus, it’s a never-ending battle. However, like with any venture, a proper and methodical approach will see you through. By laying out ground rules early and making sure all of your employees are taken care of and happy, you’ll start seeing this as less of a battle and more of an investment. A clean workspace sows the seeds for a happy staff, leading to increased workflow and company-wide productivity.