As England relaxes Plan B restrictions – including ‘work from home’ guidance and the mandatory use of masks in public spaces – SBFM asks does the cleaning industry need a strategy in place to ease public fears?And could effective cleaning regimes be fundamental to living with the virus?
Despite a high proportion of the public remaining sceptical, community perception of the health risks of easing restrictions still high, and backlash from high profile bodies including the NHS Confederation and teachers and nurses’ unions, the nation is now returning to some sort of pre-pandemic normality.
The latest changes will see large swathes of workers ditch the spare room and head back into the office on a full-time basis. While nightclubs will reopen their doors, the requirement for table service in hospitality is to end and attendance limits on indoor events are to be lifted.
Two years into the pandemic, any hope of eradicating the virus seems out of the question. If the Health Secretary Sajid Javid is to be believed, despite the relaxation of measures marking a “major milestone” for England, it is not the end of the road, and we must instead “learn to live with COVID in the same way we have to live with flu.”
Although Government curbs have been removed, this is certainly not the time for complacency about the virus. The priority now is to manage the reality that Covid-19 is here to stay. A whole new level of preparedness is therefore crucial, particularly as new waves of coronavirus (and indeed other pathogens) arrive on our shores; we need a system of effective hygiene protocols in place to ensure everyone is protected to the utmost.
The business community in particular – be that retail stores encountering growing footfall, corporates welcoming back high volumes of employees, or schools, colleges and universities inviting students back onto campus – need to establish the best lines of defence to give themselves the greatest level of protection.
Even more so given growing public anxiety around the return to normality. Some three quarters of staff (78 percent) are worried about the office environment awaiting them. While 82% of UK shoppers said they won’t spend money in a store if it doesn’t look clean or hygienic.
Vaccines undoubtedly will be central to our fight against COVID, yet effective cleaning practices provide one of our greatest chances of slowing the spread. After performing a largely unnoticed but essential service in the background for many years, the pandemic has only served to bring our industry’s value into the spotlight. Since the onset of the virus, but especially in 2021, cleaning services have been recognised as an essential strategy in the fight against the virus in many industries.
The fact that the cleaning industry has remained at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic and played a pivotal role in helping the UK and Europe’s businesses re-open, and most crucially remain open amidst lockdowns and nationwide restrictions, speaks volumes for the contribution it has made.
The EFCI’s 2021 report, ‘The Cleaning Industry in Europe: Covid-19 Impact Analysis’ states that: “The sector has not stopped from growing despite the pandemic thanks to our adaptation capacity and resilience: our companies have been able to adapt to sudden changes in the demand, providing services in hospitals and other key infrastructures and provided more specialised services when it was key to do so. The pandemic has taught us lessons that will certainly make us even stronger for the future.”
It is such adaptation that will undoubtedly continue to prove central to ensuring business continuity and protecting employee welfare. We’ve already seen the advantages that routine and thorough cleaning can have in varying working environments, healthcare facilities and educational establishments, but it is the initiative-taking approach to effective virus sanitation practices that will aid businesses in alleviating public concerns and anxieties.
Incorporating supplementary virus and bacteria sanitisation programmes of this nature into daily cleaning regimes will not only provide an additional level of protection, but also further reassurances to guarantee businesses will be prepared should the worse happen.
Such agility must also extend to the services delivered. Commercial cleaning businesses need to include in-built flexibility in all contracts if they are to survive in a world continuously reshaped by the virus.
Businesses will seek a cleaning partner that is able to respond to changing expectations. For instance, increasingly the frequency of cleaning to manage increased occupancy levels, or indeed reducing the number of days on-site to accommodate the newly trialled four day working week. While the capability to respond promptly to unexpected events, such as secondary localised outbreaks within working premises will remain a key requirement.
In today’s market, optimised and dynamic strategies must combine traditional core contract cleaning with deep cleaning, and specialist Covid-19 cleaning & sanitisation if they are to deliver a consistently high level of hygiene across all areas of any building. Such an approach will effectively be mitigating risk by ensuring businesses are prepared for all eventualities.
When a knowledgeable partner with unparalleled industry experience underpins such a strategy, businesses across myriad industries can also be assured of a balance of quality, reliability, cost-effectiveness and transparency.
For more information, or to see how SBFM can help your business meet the rising demands and expectations of employees and customers, visit: www.sb-fm.co.uk or contact us today.