Tag: hygiene

Without open-plan offices and rush-hour crowds to contend with, the shift to remote work during a pandemic seemed to suggest we are more in control of our environment and particularly our health – but our work from home habits are probably really gross.

“The home office has a lot more bacteria than work offices do,” says Linda Trim, Director at Giant Leap, one of South Africa’s largest workplace design consultancies.

“In the office, companies hire cleaners to clean floors and desks and all other work surfaces, often at the end of every day.

“But at home, many of us have developed habits that are, at best, not the healthiest, and at worst simply gross. We make phone calls from the bathroom. We let clutter pile up on our desks. We work from bed while balancing our coffee mug and muffin.”

While some of these habits are fairly benign, but not all.

Dust mites and other allergens can accumulate in a messy home, triggering coughs and a runny nose. Contaminated surfaces can transmit pathogens. Working from bed can cause sleep disruptions as well as aches and pains and other woes.

Certain habits also can act like super-spreaders of microbes.

Cellphones are one of the worst offenders. And when you consider where your phone goes in a typical day, that’s no surprise. A survey by American telecommunications giant Verizon Communications Inc found that 90% of users admit to carrying their smartphones into the bathroom.

“Even in a meticulously clean bathroom, if you’re picking up and putting down your phone before washing your hands, nasty bugs can attach to the screen and cover,” Trim notes.

So can you prevent your space at home from becoming the proverbial petri dish? Here’s Giant Leap’s top tips:

Keep pets away from your computer

Given how much time you’re spending at home, it’s only natural that your pets will want to take up residence on or near where you are working. But allowing your cat to crawl over your keyboard, for example, can lead to buildup of fur, or even traces of Kitty Litter.

Ensure adequate ventilation

Opening a window to let in fresh air is ideal. Also consider getting an air purifier than can screen out most microbes. Trim adds. “Better ventilation leads to a 60% improvement in cognitive performance.”

Removing shoes when entering a home makes sense for those working from home, too – especially since we track in a lot of pesticides and chemicals from the street.

Use the right cleaning products

Cleaning surfaces with soap and water first, then use a disinfectant. Alcohol-based wipes might be better for electronics. Use paper towels when cleaning. The worst object in the home is a sponge or dish cloth; things grow in it.

Avoid eating at your desk

Having food on your desk can breed bacteria.And there is another, less obvious risk posed by deskside meals. “You’re sitting in the same position as when you’re working and that increases the chance you’ll develop repetitive strain injuries,” Trim warned.

Deep clean
Thoroughly clean your computer, desk and other equipment once or twice a week. Give extra attention to your mouse, keyboard and other objects that are touched frequently. You also can upgrade to a washable keyboard with added antimicrobial protection.

Don’t let papers or other detritus pile up

It’s really important to put things away at the end of the day. “Not only can the clutter harbour bacteria, but it can increase our stress levels without our even realising it,” Trim concludes.

The office of 2021

The coronavirus pandemic will have long-term effects on offices around the world, as the habits and routines developed over a century of work have seemingly vanished overnight.

“While the office has an important future, the 2021 version is likely to be markedly different: materials, layouts and even how we interact with it will all evolve,” says Linda Trim, director at Giant Leap, one of South Africa’s largest workplace design specialists.

The office as a whole

Keeping the office as germ-free as possible will require material changes. Surfaces like unfinished wood, soft stone, and stainless steel can be breeding grounds for germs and bacteria and are on their way out.

“Offices might turn to furniture made of antimicrobial synthetic materials, plus metals like copper and brass for door handles and other high-touch surfaces.

Other touchpoints, like keypads and control panels for lighting, climate control, and AV systems, will likely be replaced with apps on employees’ phones,” Trim says.

Ultraviolet lights installed in ducts could purify air before it’s blown out onto the office floor. Architects might even make tweaks like curving the place where the floor meets the wall. This can eliminate corners that collect filth and germs, a practice that some hospitals have been using for decades.

Larger-scale changes may also be coming.

Says Trim: “With more employees working remotely, some desk space could be converted into more thoughtfully designed open spaces. And companies will certainly seek out offices with more access to outdoor space both as a means of social distancing and a way of making them more inviting to employees whose alternative is to stay home.”

From here on, the office will be purposely designed to be more than just a workplace, It will be a community place, a cultural place, a place of learning.

The workstation

For the sake of cleanliness, companies might have to reconsider the long-held tradition of assigned desks. Forcing employees to remove their belongings at the end of each day will allow for more effective cleanings that can’t happen when desks are covered with clutter.

“An alternative to that approach is to keep the dedicated work station but implement a ‘clean desk policy’: Each employee gets a cubby or locker in which to store things at the end of each workday, and desk surfaces are cleaned each night. The employee is then the only one in that space. There won’t be this introduction of another person sitting in that chair or touching those surfaces,” Trim said.

Adding more separation between workstations–something being done out of necessity in the short term, might become a long-term trend meant to give employees more privacy.

The remote-friendly workplace

“We’ve long advocated for choice in the office: you can sit in a lounge space or small huddle room or the outdoor patio, depending on what allows you to do your best work.”

Many more companies will update their office spaces so that the choice of workspace is not just a nice to have someday but it’s rather a must have soon. These changes will also be a major factor in businesses being able to attract and retain top talent.When we only come into the office a few days the quality at the office has to be exceptional. “It’s no longer about having just a gorgeous front entrance. It is now about giving your team the best facilities and environs for a great sense of purpose and that are better by degrees than what they can get at home, “ Trim concludes.

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My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


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