It is expected that as 2022 progresses, more workers will return to actual office settings — at least a few days a week. For most, this return to facilities will be the first time in more than two years, courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many of these building occupants, though, may still be skittish about gathering with others in confined settings. This provides a reminder — and an opportunity — for facility managers and employers to show that they care for their customers and colleagues by demonstrating smart, effective hygiene and cleaning practices on a daily basis.
Living through a pandemic has taught the general public to pay particular attention to the cleanliness of their environments. They don’t just want their work settings to be clean — they want to see cleanliness at the businesses they support, too. But an American Cleaning Institute (ACI) survey in September 2020 found that when it comes to businesses, schools and other public locations, almost half of respondents felt these locations were not maintaining adequate levels of cleanliness.
Even though public opinion implies the perception of clean is lacking, the hygiene habits picked up by people working from home are expected to stay with them when they return to the office. A September 2021 ACI survey — which asked if Americans would continue pandemic-related cleaning habits in the coming months — reported that 93 percent would wash with soap and water as frequently, and 83 percent would regularly use hand sanitizers and disinfect high-touch surfaces.
Indeed, because of COVID-19, some Americans today have come to view cleaning, disinfecting and proper hygiene as a way to care for and protect the health and safety of others. Seventy percent of Americans now view cleaning as a way to ensure the health and safety of themselves and their families, compared to 30 percent who view cleaning as just a chore.
To further explore the impact of COVID-19 on commercial hygiene habits, a Cascades survey from October 2021 found that when it comes to public restrooms, 64 percent of respondents prefer the use of paper towels from a touchless dispenser. Respondents also indicated that COVID-19 has impacted how often they clean surfaces at their workspaces, with 56 percent cleaning surfaces more often now than before the pandemic.
These findings indicate that people are prioritizing health and safety through cleaning, disinfecting and proper hygiene. Facilities staff will need to be aware of workers’ expectations, from existing signage and protocols to preferred technology and equipment.
As government authorities continue to relax COVID-19 restrictions — and as warmer weather invites people to be out-and-about more than in the winter — it is crucial to employ ‘targeted hygiene’ cleaning practices in commercial settings: using the right product, the right way, at the right time.