Is Your Franchise Business COVID-Safe?

Lisa McQueen, Cleancorp

1 in 3 Aussies workers have not been shared a COVID-Safe plan by their organisation.

As organisations in most States and Territories begin to welcome employees back to the workplace, it is crucial they have a COVID-19 risk management plan in place to minimise the spread of infection. However, our latest research has revealed a third (33 per cent) of employees have not been shared such a policy by their organisation.

Worryingly, the results found that small businesses are less likely to have a policy to minimise the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. More than half (53 per cent) of employees in micro-businesses (up to 15 employees) and 33 per cent in small businesses (15-50 employees) have not received such a policy. This compares with just 24 per cent of those in organisations with more than 50 employees who have not received a policy.

Those working in the construction and media and entertainment industry are also least equipped to re-enter their workplace: 43 per cent of respondents in the building industry, and 40 per cent in the media and entertainment industry, admit their employer has not given them a COVID-19 risk management plan, compared with just 27 per cent of respondents in professional, scientific and technical services, and 20 per cent in healthcare. 

Employees are also likely to be concerned about potential infection risks in the workplace. In fact, nearly one in two (47 per cent) Aussie workers are worried that the use of shared workspaces—such as co-working spaces, hot desks, and meeting rooms—could carry an increased risk of infection. A similar proportion (47 per cent) admitted they are worried about being around colleagues who might have been exposed to the risk of infection during the evening or on the weekend. Meanwhile, 46 per cent are worried about using shared ‘touchpoints,’ such as security buttons or door handles.

Safe Work Australia has strongly advised organisations ensure their employees keep a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres from each other and limit employee numbers in elevators.[2] Despite this, our survey found an equal two in five (39 per cent) respondents are worried about the risks of working in an enclosed office space with other people all day, and the risks of interacting with visitors in the workplace, such as customers or couriers. Thirty-six (36) per cent are worried about shared items, a third (33 per cent) are concerned about transmission risks on public transport, and 28 per cent about how best to manage appropriate spacing in elevators, stairwells, and corridors.

With many employees’ anxious about heading back to the office—and a concerning number having not been shared a COVID-19 risk management plan—here are five tips for minimising COVID-19 risks for employees, customers, and visitors in the workplace.

  1. Manage employee expectations. To ensure a successful transition back to the office, employees need to feel their employer has done everything to maximise their safety at work. Before you re-open, organise a full disinfection coronavirus precautionary clean, which includes a precautionary cleaning of all personal spaces in addition to shared touchpoints, such as door handles, remotes, kitchen taps, microwaves, fridges, and coffee machines.
  2. Plan your space using the four-square metre rule. The old seating or working plan of your workplace may no longer be viable for the distancing rule of four-square metres per person. To determine how many staff members you can have on the premises at once, calculate the area of the workspace in square metres and divide it by four. To allow for objects, such as desks and boardrooms, divide the space by eight. For example, if your office is 160 square metres, you could only have up to 40 people in the room, to allow each person to have four square metres of space.[3]
  3. Initiate a rotational working system. Once you have calculated how many employees you can have on site, create a roster system that includes all relevant employees. For example, if you employ 100 people, divide that by five working days, and you’ll find yourself with a 20 person ‘team’ that can come into the office on a set day per week. However, don’t forget the four-square metre rule, which can be achieved by re-configuring furniture to increase physically distancing or getting staff to ‘own’ a different desk to what they are used to.
  4. Create a plan for ongoing sanitisation. Consider equipping each employee with their own bottle of hand sanitiser, hospital-grade anti-viral disinfectant, and cleaning cloth when they return to the workplace. Having individual sanitary equipment will also alleviate any worry that multiple people are handling the disinfectant.
  5. Consider a cleaning concierge service. Most organisations—especially larger ones—have high-risk shared touchpoints used by site visitors and staff. These are best managed by a fully trained day-cleaning team who are uniformed and equipped to sanitise and disinfect touchpoints all-day long, whether they be kitchens, bathrooms, or meeting rooms. Though some might regard it as extreme, having an on-demand cleaning service will restore stakeholder confidence in your organisation’s hygiene standards day-in and day-out.

The importance of cleaning all shared surfaces and high-traffic areas—from door handles to remotes, and coffee machines—should not be underestimated. If organisations do not upgrade their regular cleaning practices to meet the new risk environment, they could open themselves up to the risk of infection, which could ultimately lead to Work Cover claims, negative publicity, and other significant financial costs.

 

Lisa Macqueen, Co-Founder and Director at Cleancorp (www.cleancorp.com) has more than 25 years’ experience in sales and marketing for large international hotel chains and has developed strong expertise in strategic marketing and automation. A highly regarded media commentator, Lisa has appeared regularly on the Brian Tracy Show on CBS, NBC, and FOX Affiliates in the US, as well as the ABC in Australia. Lisa is co-author of Power Principles for Success – Volume 2, which achieved best-seller status in two Amazon.com categories.