The coronavirus pandemic has led to perhaps one of the biggest shifts ever in how any company or corporate entity approaches the question of cleaning and sanitizing. In the past, this function was something almost ‘hidden in the back office’ which no one really paid any attention to. This can certainly not be the approach anymore, and one industrial cleaning products company believes cleaning regimes simply have to become intimately ingrained in your organization and be made more visible.
“Moving your cleaning routine to the ‘front office’ is only one strategy to help businesses meet the cleaning demands of the future. Cleaning in the past happened after hours and only when spaces were less busy or had less movement or traffic. By it being done in a more visible manner, a company can promote trust and assure everyone that environmental and workplace safety is taken seriously,” says Emma Corder, Managing Director of industrial cleaning products manufacturer Industroclean.
Businesses must understand the inter-connectedness between the functional and psychological perceptions that people have about hygiene and a sanitised environment, says Corder. If they can integrate this into day to day routine, they have an opportunity to gain the competitive edge.
“If this pandemic has taught us one thing it is that we can’t predict exactly which changes will remain permanent and which will pass. One thing I do believe is that all businesses that want to survive will have to make a significant change to the prominence of cleaning and hygiene as a business imperative and how it’s implemented within their corporation.”
She explains the key elements that all companies will need to implement if they are wanting to build trust and retain their clientele:
• Cleaning becoming part of your brand:
Businesses will need to adopt a psychological approach as well as the normal functional cleaning. This is because human health and safety has made cleanliness business-critical in a way that it has not been before. Big companies are now being transparent about their cleaning and safety measures, including it in all their messaging to clients.
• Stricter cleaning procedures:
Businesses need to understand that the new regulations that have been put in place are meant to supplement—not replace the old cleaning produces. Many of these regulatory pressures will come directly from consumers as they rate cleanliness as a factor in deciding where to shop.
This won’t stop just at consumers but is also relevant in the B2B sector where pressure will come from other business throughout the supply chain. For example, warehouse service will also need to ensure the safety and integrity of their client’s products.
These new stricter regulations may not look just at upgrading of cleaning products, but the changing of products used, so it will be key for additional training. This will ensure that new procedures and precautions are taken to keep all safe.
• Greater focus on critical areas
Door handles, light switches, and touchpoints on equipment are just some high-frequency touch areas that will need to be cleaned frequently. This will however bring with it challenges as all other cleaning tasks still need to be performed according to all new regulatory requirements.
Many companies will need to invest in new technology within the sector to help free up time.“We have seen first-hand how investing in the right products and equipment not only saves time but will enable you to achieve high-frequency cleaning of critical areas without sacrificing the tasks your team already does on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, ” explains Corder.
• Documentation and disclosure of cleaning procedures and frequency
After the SARS outbreak in Hong Kong in the early 2000’s, they implemented regulations whereby public areas, such as shopping malls and public transport areas needed to post their cleaning protocols at the entrances of all venues. This communication needs to be done with care though as not to scare the public into feeling they are at risk but that they are safe and can be comfortable to enjoy their activity at hand.
• Physical changes in buildings
Markings on the floor in retail or business have become the norm, in helping to support social distancing and limit critical contact point risks. Plexiglass dividers installed between employees in open plan offices are some of the changes implemented for the safety of all.
Many office buildings are taking it further with a focus on room design, redesigning public spaces to include fewer irregular shapes and surfaces.
Contactless technology is also being used with digital technologies, offering assistance to restaurants and bars were some have implemented contactless ordering and pickup using QR codes. When creating these changes there needs to be a balance between communicating and interacting with customers safely and not disengaging with them.
“No-one in the cleaning industry has a crystal ball which can predict how things will change but for the time being what is clear is that the current public health crisis has significantly changed both the role of cleaning and how it’s done, and that all businesses will be held to higher cleaning standards than they were in the past,” says Corder.