There are lots of ways to make your office healthier—step challenges, healthy break-room snacks, wellness programs. But one approach that may be overlooked is making sure your office is as clean as possible. Yes, when it comes to workplaces, cleanliness is next to healthiness.
That’s because there are a lot of ways that a dirty office can make workers sick or lower their productivity. Dust is a potent allergen and can cause problems for people with respiratory issues like asthma. Dirt can attract pests and other vermin that can be vectors for disease. Viruses can survive for up to two days on surfaces like doorknobs and countertops. An office environment that’s less than clean and tidy can lower worker morale.
There’s a two-pronged approach to keeping offices clean—having a good regular cleaning service and instilling a shared sense of responsibility among employees for keeping the office clean.
Take stock and make sure your cleaning service is:
- Providing routine cleaning when the building is unoccupied.
- Using proper equipment to perform cleaning tasks.
- Cleaning and removing dust from hard, impermeable surfaces with a water-dampened cloth.
- Vacuuming using high-efficiency vacuums and filters designed to remove allergens from the air.
- Emptying garbage and trash bins each night and making sure waste is disposed of properly.
- Thoroughly cleaning kitchens, cafeterias, and other food-use areas.
- Using the right cleaning products for the job—and making a list of the products they use available to employers, who may need to research any allergic reactions.
If your current cleaning company isn’t meeting these metrics, it may be time to find a new one. As with any other service, there are best practices for locating and hiring after-hours cleaners.
First, do your research. Going online may be a great place to start, but it makes sense to go the extra mile by talking to other companies in your building or neighborhood. Is there a service that comes up again and again with positive reviews? And even if a local cleaning company has stellar online reviews and word-of-mouth raves, make sure to ask for formal references—and check them. It goes without saying that any company you hire needs to be licensed, bonded, and insured.
There are intangibles to hiring a cleaning company, too. Does the prospective cleaner share your company’s values? If your company strives to be environmentally responsible, seek out a cleaning company that uses green cleaning supplies. Socially conscious corporations might want to search for a company that is minority-owned or one that strives to hire differently abled workers.
During the Workday
The best cleaning company in the world can’t make up for a workforce that doesn’t care about the condition of their shared space. You can help everyone stay healthier and the office stay cleaner with these tips:
- Provide appropriate cleaning products and tools for the shared kitchen. No one wants to clean their dishes with a grotesquely germ-ridden sponge. Stock your kitchen with extra sponges, dishwashing liquid, hand soap, and cleaning spray for wiping down counters and tables.
- Draft some shared practices. A list of cleaning expectations posted in the kitchen serves as a reminder that management cares about making the workplace a pleasant place for everyone. Try to strike a tone of “We’re all in this together,” which is a lot more effective than shaming or berating workers into complying.
- Provide supplies beyond the kitchen. Providing products like sanitizing wipes and paper towels helps workers keep their own work spaces and shared spaces, like the copy machine room, cleaner.
- Clear clutter from shared areas. A cluttered work space is a dusty work space, so strive to designate areas to keep things like recycling looking tidy. When choosing furniture for the office, you can give a clean and organized feel to a room by selecting cabinets that can be closed rather than open shelving.
A clean space communicates care and self-respect, which can translate into more productivity and a better work environment for all.
Miriam Wolf is a Portland-based wellness professional.