This is how to show your customers and colleagues you really care about their safety during COVID-19

Even though the government’s official line is for us all to continue working from home if possible, a lot of us have made the return to our workplaces over the past few months. This may not be a full and proper return, but employees and /or customers returning nonetheless.

The effect of working from home on our mental health

This return to working environments has been welcomed by many, as months of working from home has taken its toll on a lot of us. According to research from Nuffield Health, the UK’s largest healthcare charity, 80% of Brits felt that working from home has had a negative impact on their mental health. People reported higher levels of stress, anxiety, and loneliness, whilst also stating that the boundaries between a work-life balance had become increasingly blurred.

A survey conducted in the early days of lockdown by the Institute for Employment Studies found similar findings. Half of respondents ‘reported not being happy with their current work-life balance’, whilst a third stated they frequently felt lonely and isolated. According to another survey by Jefferies, a global financial company, 60% of around 1500 UK respondents would like to go back to work immediately if they could.

Prioritising health and safety at work

However, going back to work has to be done safely as workers are also rightly worried about the COVID-19 and the pandemic – a worry that might outweigh their desire to go back to work. This is why it’s key that employers prioritise the health and safety of their colleagues (and customers), to make sure that their return to work carries as little risk as possible, and is done right.

Nicky Jolley, HR expert & founder of HR2day Limited, told me that she’s dealing with companies from both ends of the spectrum. “Where companies are wanting their employees to continue to work from home, we are advising to communicate regularly with their employees and establish this is ok with their employees and isn’t affecting their mental health.”

For companies who require their employees to be back or continue to stay at work, here we are making sure Return to Work forms are completed to manage and mitigate any fears employees may have, ensuring any modifications are made that the employees need to understand and work to when they do return” Jolley says.

How does an employer make their workplace as safe a space as possible?

Here are a few things that can be done and put in place by employers to make their workplace safer, and to put colleagues and customers’ minds at ease.

  1. Ensure adequate hand washing and sanitation facilities
  2. Install air sterilisers
  3. Install anti-bacterial handles
  4. Invest in non-touch hygienic equipment

Ensure adequate hand washing and sanitation facilities

One of the most important parts of preventing the spread of COVID-19 is through regular hand washing and/or sanitising. So, your workplace needs to be able to provide enough hand washing facilities to allow workers and customers to enact this regularly. Having just the one sink in an office of 20 people is definitely not going to cut it.

As well as having enough hand washing facilities, it’s also vital that you be able to provide sufficient amounts of hand sanitiser, and in multiple locations. This is so that when hand washing isn’t possible, there is a good enough alternative that is easy to locate and access.

Hand drying facilities are also important to the hygiene process. Wet hands harbour a lot more germs than dry hands, which then adds to the risk of spreading any virus present in a given area. The method of drying hands can be either hand dryers or paper towels, depending on the specific needs of your workplace. The World Health Organisation has stated that both these methods are fine to use when it comes to COVID-19. There had been some myths circulating earlier in the year about hand dryers posing an additional risk to hygiene, but we dispelled some of these myths in a previous blog post that discussed the pros and cons of hand dryers and paper towels.

Install air sterilisers

Another important factor to consider in your workplace is ventilation. Having good ventilation has always been important to health and wellbeing, but it’s added benefit now is that it can also contribute to the minimisation of risk from COVID-19. Fresh air constantly flowing in and out of the workplace can help filter out any virus, plus it’s always nice to breathe some fresh air.

Opening doors and windows is the obvious way to do this, but this isn’t always possible in every workplace. And with the cold and wet weather setting in, not always ideal!

This is where air sterilisers come into use. These are small units that eliminate odours, bacteria, viruses, and mould, using a technology which creates things like UV light, ozone and negatively charged ions. These elements already exist in the environment so are completely safe to use for disinfection purposes.

Air sterilisers are ideal for washrooms and/or transient areas, especially those without windows. They effectively regularly clean the air for you – another step in promoting the highest level of hygiene and safety in your workplace.

Just to note: The fixed installation air sterilisers we currently sell on our website are only recommended for washrooms or other transient areas where people only spend a short period at a time.

Install anti-bacterial handles

You may not have heard of these nifty products, but anti-bacterial handles are handles that use silver ion technology to penetrate the cell membrane of germs, and kills it. You can’t really escape or avoid using door handles. And as door handles tend to be high contact points, anti-bacterial handles can provide added hygiene protection to any workplace by further reducing the spread of germs.

Invest in non-touch hygienic equipment

One of the key messages around the prevention of COVID-19 is to reduce the number of things we come into contact with. The COVID-19 virus can live on surfaces for hours, so as well as regularly cleaning these surfaces, it’s also important to avoid any unnecessary contact with them.

One of the ways employers can put this into practice is by investing in non-touch equipment. This includes products such as: automated soap and hand sanitiser dispensers, sensor taps, and automated hand dryers.

By reducing the number of touch points people come into contact with, especially in washrooms, this in turn reduces the likelihood of germs being spread around the workplace.

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