Opinions

Hygiene in the Evolving Workplace

That day of expectation and trepidation approaches, as your child leaves for their first day at pre-school. As every parent knows, this is the start of an incredible developmental journey. It is also the start of the journey where their child is exposed to a range of other children, surfaces, and experiences, that as well as delivering education attainment will also contribute to their immune system development, through the exposure to a wide range of bugs and viruses.

Fast-forward to their work experience and they will find a similar tale, an enhanced range of bugs and sometimes the same infantile behaviour.

These early years’ experiences mimic the multi-stakeholder workplace, within which global influences are now delivering an enhanced hygiene challenge on a local level, because;

  • We now operate in a global workplace
  • We, as a society are moving to central locations, and importantly;
  • We are travelling farther, faster, and more often.

Climate change also plays a role, as warmer temperatures expand the range of disease-carrying animals and insects we’re exposed to. If the moral argument for clean environments doesn’t excite the financial argument must, as the World Bank has estimated that the bill for the next flu pandemic could hit $US 570 billion.

Supplement an already well-known risk, with the drive to support workplace physical and mental wellbeing, supported by a range of complementary facilities which balance work and life, and the scale of the challenge emerges.

Work evolves

High footfall environments, particularly in modern, flexible, colocation workplaces can present an increased risk for contamination, particularly in high transit areas. If we accept that increased occupier density, as designed, will increase traffic, the cleaning protocol must take into account the degree to which disinfection and sanitization are necessary. Compound this with the common theme running through the evolution of the property and facilities management industry, in delivering flexible, mixed use spaces, within ever more flexible tenure arrangements, and an exponential increase in occupiers.

Conversely, unnecessary disinfection and sanitization can negatively impact immune health. They reduce exposure to microorganisms and parasites that can result in decreased disease and illness, but are also increasingly linked to a rising prevalence of hypersensitivity disorders and autoimmune diseases, especially in industrialized nations.

The changes present material hygiene challenges across the modern workplace. Successful cleaning regimes must carefully balance the need to deliver clean work environments, whilst doing so in a manner that is not affecting workplace or local air quality or worksurface over treatment. This requires alternative methodologies to be deployed which deliver a cleaning regimen typically using non-toxic, hypoallergenic cleaners, helping to reduce bioloads, pests, environmental allergens and unpleasant odours, without introducing chemicals that might adversely impact indoor air quality.

Introduction of formal accreditation standards, such as the WELL Building Institute™ which sets out a framework to support both the physical and wellbeing requirements, within a delivery model that offers multi-modal use, flexibility and choice to the building user, are an increasing feature. Additionally, greater qualitative transparency through initiatives such as the Leesman Index, within which cleaning features significantly, creates the perfect storm of enhanced support service demand that the modern provider must consistently satisfy.

NJC is very fortunate to have been in the vanguard of the development of methodologies across the range of new standards. Our suite of training and auditing programmes meet the Documentation, Procurement, Training, Procedural and Audit requirements, critical in achieving and maintaining the standards.

Never before has our full form name been more apt. Cleaning has long been a brand and image supporting function and there is now overwhelming evidence that it is vital in a central wellbeing strategy. A successful cleaning program requires the selection of safer products, proper training and use of green cleaning materials and products, with a detailed understanding of the revised methodologies by service support staff.

With health, wellbeing, productivity and choice now rightly on the agenda of most companies today, within an alternative workspace environment that demands a different support model, we look forward to using our expertise and knowledge to partner and support other organisations on their journey.

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