Office hygiene reboot: combatting COVID complacency

By Our Reporter
Representational Photo by Cherrydeck on Unsplash

Vigilance in office hygiene seems to be dwindling, a concern highlighted by Brett McAllen, CEO of @WORKSPACES. While we’ve moved past lockdowns, McAllen points out a concerning slack in hand hygiene and general disinfecting practices, which were crucial during the height of the pandemic. @WORKSPACES, a network of premium coworking and office spaces across Australia, serves a broad clientele, including entrepreneurs, large corporates, and government departments, placing it at the centre of this emerging challenge.

McAllen observes that many of the physical barriers and screens set up during the pandemic to curb virus transmission are being removed in workplaces. He draws a comparison to banks, where such safety measures remain standard, suggesting that similar practices should continue in other work environments. The focus, he says, should not just be on the health and wellbeing of employees but also on maintaining the good behaviours adopted during the pandemic.

Another crucial area of concern is the decline in cleaning schedules. Regular disinfection, especially in high-touch areas, is fading, posing risks, particularly in offices adopting hot desking models. McAllen highlights that office hygiene is critical, not only for individual desks but for shared spaces too. This practice is vital in hybrid work models, where desks are used by different individuals on different days.

McAllen also stresses the importance of considering the safety of others in the workplace. Personal hygiene, he notes, is not just about self-protection; it’s about safeguarding everyone around us, especially those with compromised immune systems. He suggests that adopting practices from other cultures, such as wearing masks when feeling unwell, can significantly enhance workplace safety.

Brett McAllen, CEO of @WORKSPACES

Addressing the issue of ‘caution fatigue’, McAllen speaks about the human tendency to become less vigilant over time, especially after prolonged periods of anxiety like those experienced during the pandemic. He warns against letting our guard down, as invisible threats like viruses still pose significant risks. Maintaining a high level of alertness and continuing to see the risks as they are, not minimising them, is essential.

Promoting vaccinations in the workplace is another area McAllen touches upon. He believes that one of the great achievements during COVID-19 has been the normalization of vaccinations. Encouraging employees to stay up to date with their vaccinations, not just for COVID but for general health, is a step that workplaces should actively take. This can be achieved by fostering a culture where vaccination is seen as the norm and by visually promoting it in high-traffic areas.

Lastly, McAllen reiterates the importance of prioritising our health and safety in the workplace. As we advance in our post-COVID world, remembering the lessons of the past and incorporating simple measures like wearing a mask when ill or regularly cleaning surfaces can make a significant difference. For many, the workplace is where they spend a substantial part of their lives, and ensuring its safety and healthiness benefits everyone involved.

As McAllen’s insights reveal, the battle against COVID complacency in the workplace is ongoing. Upholding rigorous health and safety standards is not just a matter of personal wellbeing; it’s a collective responsibility that impacts the broader community. Adopting and maintaining these practices is crucial for creating a safe and sustainable workplace environment as we continue to adapt to the challenges posed by the pandemic and beyond.

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