A clean start: tips and tricks for corporates to create a COVID-safe workplace.
One of the biggest misconceptions out there right now is that cleaning is booming, says Estelle Lewis, who is the group executive general manager for partnerships at cleaning services and hygiene products company IKON Services.
The company, which provides cleaning services and hygiene products to a number of blue chip clients, including Crown Resorts, has been on a difficult journey.
A big challenge has been accessing accurate information and ensuring it’s disseminated to staff and clients, she says.
“People turn to cleaning companies as the experts about COVID-19, but the reality is that this has sort of hit us all very quickly and none of us have really had time to sort of take in what this virus actually means for all of these businesses.
“We’re learning while our clients are learning, but we need to be that one step ahead,” Lewis says.
The Group General Manager of Procurement and Supply Chains, Ben Briggs admits he’s had similar challenges at Crown Resorts, with approximately 16,000 staff and contractors regularly on site.
“Reopening a Casino will have its challenges. It’s probably one of the most difficult things to do because you don’t typically reopen, you’re always open,” Briggs says.
“So we have to understand how to create a safe working environment for people, staff and patrons as part of the reopening phase.
“There’s a lot of human elements that we’re going to have to work through over the next couple of months to make sure that we can create a safe working environment at Crown,” he says.
As people get back to work, there’s going to be a level of comfort around the fact that we’re getting back to normal. But we need to be reminded that it’s a ‘new normal’ and a complex space, the pair agree.
The pair opened up about some of the 7 biggest challenges for companies looking to create a Covid-safe work environment:
1. Public confidence
A key priority right now is looking for ways to make the public need to feel safe about returning, so a lot of work needs to go into messaging, Briggs says.
“It will be a different working environment and a different operating environment. You may see thermal scanners at entry points, limited access points into the casino, furniture removed so that we can create social distancing and all the communication that needs to go along with that so that people feel safe,” he says.
“It’s not going to be easy, but I’m pretty confident that with the measures we’re putting in place, people are going to feel safe to come back to the property and come back and enjoy our facilities again,” he says.
Briggs admits he’s been dubbed ‘The Sanitiser Guy’ and ‘The Sneeze Guard Man’ by his colleagues as he looks to overhaul Crown.
“Where practical be such as hotel reception desks, we’re putting sneeze guards up. There’s sanitisation stations everywhere you go. People are going to have access to masks and sanitisation,” he says.
2. Visual reminders
Visual reminders in the form of signs and messages are being erected throughout properties and visual reminders added to flooring to keep people apart.
Making sure that hand sanitisers and wipes are available to all for staff to clean down their environments when they come and go will be crucial, Briggs adds.
Remote working will also be crucial, because we are unlikely to get all the 15,000 people back to work in the same space. We’re going to have to be smart about it. “Assessing which roles can work remotely, how we structure the work environment to enable appropriate distancing and which roles are operational and are needed on the ground will require some finessing,” he adds.
Lewis adds that she’s looking at sourcing a piece of sophisticated technology with an LSD screen to allow customer communication that allows you to add COVID-19 messages and takes temperatures at reception points is on the cards for clients.
3. Communal kitchens
The communal kitchen was once a place where food, coffee and great conversation takes place in offices, but that looks set to be a thing of the past, Lewis says.
Communal plates, cutlery, glassware and the shared office fruit bowl is on the chopping block.
“Kitchens are also a tricky space from a cleaning perspective. It could be an area where fogging works really well, which is a mist spray that works well for tight spaces. The high grade chemical concentrate mist helps get into corners and edges where viruses can live, which I’d recommend doing on a regular basis,” Lewis says.
And while there a plethora of new cleaning companies entering the market offering fogging and sanitisation, businesses need to ensure they engage companies that stand for trust and integrity.
4. The boardroom
Board meetings will be a very different function within a business. The room will be transformed to adhere to social distancing, with every second chair removed, access to wipes and additional bins for wipes to prevent the spread of germs. Hand sanitiser will also be added to the room.
People will be expected to take responsibility for their own hygiene, and report any symptoms if they’re feeling unwell and stay home, Briggs says.
5. Vulnerable workers
Vulnerable workers who are considered high risk require special consideration in the workplace, Briggs says.
It’s about putting enough protections in place for them so they feel safe and willing to come back into the office. A perspex screen and floor markings to encourage social distancing perspective so that people have their own space will be crucial.
“Adapt our workplace policies and processes to ensure they are safe and their workspace is a safe haven will be crucial. Reporting and compliance is also important,” Briggs adds.
6. Response plan
Creating a rapid response process that provides specific measures for closing down in the event of an outbreak is crucial, Briggs says.
The rapid response plan ensures properties are closed down and reopened swiftly, which also needs to be part of a training regime for staff and enforced, he says.
7. Clean desks
The traditional desk station is being overhauled, while hot desking has been abandoned in corporate settings around the world.
While people will continue to be encouraging people so work from home, if they do need to come into work, each personal workspace will need to be kept tidy and minimalistic so surfaces can be cleaned is paramount, Briggs says.
“It’s about keeping those practices up so that we don’t get comfortable and lazy in the area that things have gone back to normal so that we can go back to our previous behaviours,” Briggs says.
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