‘The new normal’ is a phrase that most of us are familiar with now. It was coined in the wake of COVID-19 to signify a complete change in the way of life, not just for South Africans, but for the entire world. The virus has changed the way we live, work, shop and socialise. It has turned the world on its head and, as a result, drastic changes to personal hygiene and cleanliness have been instilled.
This new normal has forced schools and businesses to move their operations online. As the lockdown is lifted stage-by-stage and people start returning to work, there are a number of changes that need to become habits and second-nature. These include personal hygiene practices and social distancing in the workplace. This is now the reality until a vaccine can be developed.
A recent poll created by the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management found that one-third of employees are worried about settling back into the corporate office culture after the lockdown. The poll also indicated that just under two-thirds of respondents are concerned about maintaining social distancing practices in the office. This anxiety is not only felt by employees.
Business owners and high-level management have also expressed their concerns over being able to keep their offices hygienic and disinfected. The government has mandated a number of health and safety measures for businesses that are reopening their premises. We’ve put together a quick guide to the new normal for businesses so that they can assimilate their employees quickly and keep them safe in the workplace.
Safety measures for the new normal
Employers should ensure that there is a combination of solutions in place to guarantee the hygiene of their premises. The following practices and equipment will need to be installed in the workplace to encourage their employees to stay disinfected and safe:
Hand hygiene is a must. Soap, running water, paper towels and air dryers should be available in all bathrooms and in an operational condition. Hand sanitizer must be available at the entrance/exit points of the building and at key locations within, such as the kitchen and reception.
Bathrooms must be deep cleaned once a week. Toilet seats, taps and door handles must be disinfected regularly throughout the day to minimise the spread of pathogens.
Disinfection mats or spray booths should be considered at the entrance to the workplace. These measures are not compulsory but will help to maintain a safer work environment.
If employees require personal protective equipment (PPE), then this should be readily available. Disposal units must also be installed in changing rooms so that contaminated PPE can be safely discarded.
Signage should be installed around the office to remind employees of social distancing guidelines, personal hygiene and mask etiquette.
Physical see-through barriers can be installed at receptions to prevent airborne pathogens from spreading from guests to employees.
Employers need to take these safety and hygiene measures into account when asking employees to return to work. Businesses that require fingerprint access should also consider switching to keycard access to prevent employees from touching a singular spot on the scanner. Workers should also be encouraged to bring their own meals and cutlery from home for lunch breaks.
These steps will ensure the hygiene and safety of all people in a business space - including customers and visitors. They are now considered to be the new normal and are unlikely to be phased out until a reliable cure is discovered for the virus. For additional peace of mind, hire a professional contract cleaning company to take care of your disinfection and sanitisation needs. To get an obligation-free assessment or a quote, contact IWESCO today.
IWESCO offers specialised cleaning and waste control services to industrial and commercial customers in South Africa. These services are aimed at minimising our customers’ impact on the environment. Our services also include pest control, garden maintenance, fogging and disinfecting. Our staff are highly trained to offer the most professional services. IWESCO is a Level 2 B-BBEE supplier with ISO 14001 certification for environmental management.
We are a one-stop shop for all your contract cleaning and waste control needs and have a national footprint. Our head office is located in Tshwane but we can provide services to any industrial and commercial client in the major metropolitan areas around South Africa, including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Mbombela and more.