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Sustainability

Boosting Hygiene and Improving Sustainability in Open Plan Offices

Shutterstock Photo License - By Bojan Milinkov
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There are a number of steps that you can take to make your office eco-friendlier. We have talked at length about the benefits of using sustainable energy to power your business, improving insulation to make sure the building is more energy efficient and using sustainable materials to ensure the longevity of the structure and lower your environmental footprint during the construction process. We even talked about eco-friendly furniture disposal ideas.

However, there are some lesser known ways to create a green office. One idea that eco-friendly businesses should seriously consider is using open plan offices. Open plan offices are both better for the environment and healthier, as long as the organizers take steps to provide better hygiene.

Open Plan Offices for Environmental and Health Benefits

There are many benefits to an open-plan office. Not only do they facilitate a collaborative and multi-functional work environment, they allow flexible working strategies such as “hot-desking” to keep employees motivated and keep office life dynamic.

There are a lot of reasons that eco-friendly companies invest in open plan offices. They provide better air and heat circulation, which helps make these offices more energy efficient. They can also make it easier for the entire area to benefit from indoor plants, which reduces the need to waste energy on forced air circulation to keep ventilation good.

However, on the flip side open-plan offices can sometimes be a distracting work environment as well as potentially less hygienic. We explore how to keep open plan offices safe and hygienic upon the return to the office.

Promote Good Personal Hygiene

One of the most pertinent issues of communal workspaces is personal hygiene. Each employee needs to take responsibility for their personal hygiene ensuring that they wash their hands regularly and keep their personal workspaces clean. Companies can encourage this by putting up signs in the bathroom, making hand sanitizer regularly available and providing employees with equipment to keep their work surfaces clean.

Many companies are installing hand washing stations and cubicles at the entrances or exits of main rooms, to encourage hand washing and good hygiene where possible. There are companies such as Trovex who have set up specific hand washing units for such a purposes – they are compact-built, discrete and very hygienic.

The more seriously employees take their personal hygiene, the cleaner the wider office will be. Areas of high contact, such as work surfaces, door handles, bathrooms and computer equipment, should be highlighted as areas which need a high level of attention for hygiene and cleanliness.

All of these can impact companies at a wider level. The more frequently employees get sick, the more sick days they will take which can in turn impact staff burnout as well as employee turnover. Ensuring that communal workspaces are kept safe and hygienic will positively impact a company in the long term, improvising employee wellbeing, job satisfaction and loyalty to the company.

Professional Eco-Friendly Cleaners

It is highly recommended to undergo a deep clean of the office space before returning, not only ensuring that the office is clean at a surface level but also checking that the building is safe for people to return to. For example, after many months of inactivity, employers are responsible for ensuring that the building is safe from a structural level and that there is no risk of mould or problems with the pipes.

Hiring a professional cleaning crew can ensure that spaces are correctly cleaned and sanitized. This will help reduce bacteria and germs in the workplace. A professional cleaning company can take care of everything at a holistic level including specialist services such as carpet cleaning and window cleaning.

You shouldn’t have trouble finding cleaning companies committed to sustainability. They will take reasonable measures to clean your office while leaving as small of an environmental footprint as possible.

Eco-Friendly Desk Cleaning

Open-plan offices and hot-desking means that people are constantly moving around and changing seats. Whilst this can be great for a dynamic work environment and to foster collaboration and creativity, it also gives rise to poor hygiene.

Typically, an office desk contains over 10 million bacteria – 400 times more than a standard toilet seat! It is so important to keep surfaces clean. Make sure that your employees are well-equipped to keep desks clean by providing hand and surface wipes, hand sanitizers, spray-and-wipe cleaning supplies and antibacterial wipes. As well as regular office-wide cleaning, employees should wipe down surfaces after every use.

There are a lot of eco-friendly cleaning techniques that you can use. You should look at non-toxic cleaning supplies, so you can keep the office clean without harming the environment.

Prevent the Spread of Illness

More than ever before, employees should be discouraged from coming into work when they are unwell. Gone are the days of suffering manfully through a cold or flu whilst sitting at your desk. The only way to reduce virus or infection entering the office environment, is stressing the importance of staying at home when sick and offering flexible working options and sick leave arrangements.

Often in companies, employees feel that they are unable to take time off when sick; it is crucial to let staff know that not only is this allowed, but it should be encouraged. This is particularly important in open-plan offices as there is ample opportunity for contagion and there is greater exposure between different colleagues.

There are a lot of eco-friendly sanitation and cleaning techniques that you can try. You should use them to promote the health of your employees.

Brenda Cagara is a part of the business consultant team RIZ & MONA in Dubai. Her work is to assist the formation of companies in different states of UAE. Other services she takes a part in are visa processing, trade license, trade mark, bank account opening, product registration and local sponsors. Along with this, she vigilantly manages to pursue her writing career. Since the past five years, she has been writing on different niches. The top ones are business, taxation and finance.

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