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5 Tips for Good Hand Hygiene in the Office

As we should all know by now, washing our hands is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus and a myriad of other illnesses and bacteria. It’s so crucial, in fact, that the World Health Organization has said that it’s the most important action we can take during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that we should be doing it “regularly and thoroughly” to kill any viruses that may be on them.

With parts of the world now returning to relative normality, many people will be heading back to their offices and other places of work. And in order to help prevent a spike in the disease, we should all be playing our part by maintaining our distance where possible and keeping our hands clean.

Cleanliness in the workplace

It’s no secret that many people spend the majority of their time in the workplace. Although there may be more of a shift towards flexible and homeworking in the near future, many people will return to the office, and many already have.

Unfortunately, the office environment is the perfect breeding ground for germs, illnesses, and viruses to thrive and spread. This is because offices hold a large number of people in a relatively compact space. Throw in all the different touchpoints and opportunities for cross-contamination and you can begin to see why office hygiene is so important, now more than ever before.

Given that only 61% of UK office workers wash their hands after a bathroom break, there is plenty of room for improvement.

5 tips for improving hand hygiene in the office

Although it’s impossible to stop germs getting around, there are plenty of things you can do to encourage good hand hygiene in the office and mitigating their spread. Here are a few helpful tips for you to consider:

1. Encourage employees to practice good hand hygiene

Regularly and thoroughly washing your hands helps to reduce potentially harmful bacteria and viruses, and employees should be reminded of this.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of this, encouraging good hand hygiene by placing posters and information leaflets in restrooms is a good way to make sure that people aren’t forgetting. There are plenty of these that can be downloaded for free online so that you can print them out and stick them up near sinks, above urinals, and in cubicles.

2. Invest in quality washroom equipment and other solutions

The best way to encourage employees to wash their hands is to provide a quality washroom experience. Although this may sound odd, people are far more likely to stick around for an extra minute or so in a washroom if it’s well lit, clean, and generally pleasant.

It’s also a good idea to install good basins, ensure taps aren’t too hot and that their pressure is optimised, invest in air care solutions, and provide a quick and clean way for people to dry their hands.

An example of a hand hygiene poster. Image credit: Rentokil

3. Install hand sanitiser stations

Although washing hands is preferable for proper cleanliness, hand sanitiser and hand sanitising stations play a huge role in preventing the spread of viruses and illnesses. Despite not being effective against every type of virus (i.e. norovirus), hand sanitiser has been shown to kill coronavirus, so in our opinion, it’s a must-have for any office that is now trying to restore some normality and get back to business.

Hand Sanitiser Dispenser is also a convenient way to ‘top up’ hand cleanliness when washing facilities aren’t available or appropriate, for example, if an employee has been touching door handles on the way back to their desk.  

4. Ensure communal areas are regularly cleaned

As we said, lots of different people can share the same office space, and this means that communal areas like kitchenettes and copier rooms can become a hotbed for virus, dirt, and bacteria.

It’s therefore important to ensure that regular, thorough cleaning takes place in all office communal areas. Cleaning staff should be instructed to pay special attention to touchpoints and places where lots of different employees spend time, such as around storage shelves and tabletops.

5. Encourage staff to clean their desk areas

Studies have shown that the average computer mouse is home to more than three times the number of bacteria than the average toilet seat… and as for keyboards, with all the dirt and grime that can get caught in them, it doesn’t bear thinking about!

Staff should, therefore, be encouraged to regularly clean their desk areas, especially if your office is a hotdesking environment where people can sit in different places each day. To help, provide your staff with anti-bacterial wipes, sprays, and sanitising gels. If the equipment is there and accessible, it’s likely to be used.

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