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COVID-SECURE WORKPLACES: THE NEW NORMAL

Author: Richard Snarey

Published date: 2020/04

Csec

The COVID-19 pandemic means that the effective cleaning and sanitisation of commercial buildings and public spaces has become critical. The prioritisation of proper cleaning has even seen crime scene cleanup crews deployed to sanitise public areas in a bid to create COVID-secure environments. 

With cleaning now much more than a matter of appearance and businesses increasingly demanding qualifications and proof of experience from their cleaning staff, it’s clear that we’re entering a new era for the profession. 

Changing Priorities

In April, business services group Rentokil Initial PLC unveiled it was to retrain over 7,000 staff for deep clean services due to the pandemic. In fact, “deep clean” is a phrase that’s set to join the likes of PPE and social distancing in our everyday vernacular, with Google searches for “deep clean” more than double compared to April last year. 

Despite the rise in demand for deep cleaning, it’s not a scientific concept, and likely means different things to individual businesses and consumers. As a result, there’s no universal protocol for deep cleaning high-traffic public or commercial spaces to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In lieu of this, public health officials suggest steps that businesses can take, including increasing the frequency of cleaning, using particular disinfectant products that have proven effective and prioritising high-touch spots. 

The ambiguity surrounding what constitutes a deep clean will soon be a thing of the past. Businesses will need to draw up guidelines when it comes to cleaning protocols, with all cleaning personnel required to follow them to the letter and be trained to use specified equipment and products in the right way. 

We can expect more rigorous training for cleaning personnel and the need for them to prove such training before they start work. It’s also possible that this will eventually filter down to the education system where qualifications in commercial cleaning, including how to prevent the spread of viruses, become an option for students. 

A Bright Future? 

Although many cleaning professionals have found themselves out of work during the crisis, with commercial and public buildings closing their doors for the foreseeable future, we’re set to see a different story when the lockdown lifts. Cleaners will be one of the few winners that emerge from the pandemic, with cleaning pushed higher up the corporate agenda to ensure the safety of employees and members of the public. 

The aforementioned Rentokil Initial PLC reported that although its activities had decreased due to customers being temporarily shuttered, “a substantial pipeline of new business is being built”. 

With the cost too high to continue with the status quo of the pre-COVID-19 era, cleaning is set to appear on the agenda of boards and senior management teams for perhaps the first time. As a result, greater investment, attention and care will go into this area, and while expectations of the modern cleaner will be higher than ever, so will the prospects and rewards on offer. 

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