Hygiene issues in open plan offices

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It is becoming increasingly evident that cleanliness and hygiene in the workplace is no longer just a matter of pleasantry, but a vital factor for productivity. With more and more offices converting to open plan, people are socialising more frequently, sharing facilities and technology and thereby facing more hygiene risks than before.

It’s estimated that up to 90 percent of offices in Australasia today have open floor plans. While open plan offices have several advantages, they do require a higher level of maintenance and a relevant hygiene strategy.

Staying clean and hygienic in an office can be difficult, as many offices do not maintain proper hygiene levels, even in the washrooms. The Essity Essential Initiative survey 20181 of over 15,000 people in 15 countries found 22 percent of employees say they often refrain from using the toilets where they work, as the toilets are unhygienic or messy.

It also revealed that 40 percent of respondents say they often worry about becoming ill due to poor hygiene, and there are noticeable differences between age groups. Employers seeking to attract and retain millennials should be aware that they worry a lot more about lack of hygiene than their older colleagues. For example, 50 percent of people aged 16 to 25 say they often worry about hygiene, while that figure is only 21 percent for those aged 61 and older.

According to another recent study, one of the most important factors for improving hand hygiene and thus reducing the incidence of infectious diseases is simply to provide adequate facilities2.

Tork Hygiene Stand

By strategically using the Tork Hygiene Stand with Tork Foam or Gel Sanitiser at locations in the office with high traffic, companies are able to offer employees hygiene products such as hand sanitiser and tissues with ease. Walking past the stand is also a simple reminder for both employees and guests of the importance of hand hygiene and demonstrates that the company cares about employee wellbeing.

Tork Foam and Gel Sanitisers are highly effective with a bacteria kill rate of 99.9 percent and contain moisturising agents to prevent drying skin. An AD-a-Glance panel can be added to the Tork Hygiene Stand with prominently displayed customised messages to remind people to sanitise their hands.

Tork Foam Sanitiser

By implementing a hygiene strategy in the office, employers can increase both productivity and wellbeing by reducing hygiene concerns as well as the number of sick days taken by staff. Studies show that executing the right hand hygiene program in an office can reduce the amount of sick leave by over 20 percent and therefore reduce hygiene concerns and improve morale3. Even small interventions can be great for improving hygiene and reducing the number of health insurance claims.

Time to up the ante when it comes to hygiene.

To download the open plan office whitepaper, click here.

This article was sponsored by Tork.

  1. Essity (2018). The Essentials Initiative survey 2018, https://www.essity.com/company/essentials-initiative/reports/
  2. Arbogast, J. W., Moore-Schiltz, L., Jarvis, W. R., Harpster-Hagen, A., Hughes, J., & Parker, A. (2016). Impact of a comprehensive workplace hand hygiene program on employer health care insurance claims and costs, absenteeism, and employee perceptions and practices. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine, 58(6), e231.
  3. Zivich, P. N., Gancz, A. S., & Aiello, A. E. (2017). Effect of hand hygiene on infectious diseases in the office workplace: A systematic review. American journal of infection control.

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