Nine steps for safe return to work

An Australian anti-viral cleaning company has received over 1500 inquiries on its services since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cleancorp co-founder and director Lisa Macqueen said one particular interest was on how to get people back to the office feeling safe.

The Australian company in turn developed a return-to-work guideline applicable to all businesses.

The first step is to manage employee expectations to ensure a successful transition back to the workplace.

“Employees need to feel their employer has done everything to maximise their safety at work,” Cleancorp stated.

“(This) includes a precautionary cleaning of all personal spaces in addition to shared touchpoints, such as door handles, remotes, kitchen taps, microwaves, fridges, and coffee machines.”

Companies need to apply the four-square metre rule to their seating or working plan, and calculate how many people they can have within an area.

This will allow companies to establish a rotational working system.

“Whether your employees are rostered on weekly, fortnightly, on a ‘team’ basis, or an every-other-day basis, once you have your roster in place, I strongly recommend that each person uses the same desk or workspace each time they are at work. Hot-desking and shared workspaces present too much of a risk,” Macqueen said.

An employee also needs to take on the role of a COVID-19 champion, who will keep track of colleagues’ hygiene levels.

They would become the go-to person for other employees to ask questions about how to navigate the new normal working environment.

Employers should also plan for ongoing sanitisation; determine how to use shared meeting spaces; and incorporate company vehicles into their cleaning schedule.

Cleancorp recognised that dedicating a cleaning team who would sanitise and disinfect touchpoints all day long might seem extreme, but the effort would restore stakeholder confidence in hygiene standards.

Its founder suggested hiring ISO certified cleaners to keep workplaces free from viruses.

“If businesses haven’t taken appropriate steps to minimise virus-related risks on-site, it could open them up to the risk of infections, Work Cover claims and negative publicity,” Macqueen said.

“That’s why we have created a step-by-step guide to help businesses transition back to work and manage this ‘new normal.’”