Working Safely in the New Normal – Preparing your environment – AND maintaining it

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by Hugh McGarry
Regional Director, Tidy Green Clean Forth Valley

Covid-19 mobilisation is one of those phrases none of us had heard a year ago. Today, it’s the word on every business owner’s mind, or anyone responsible for a team of people, a building or both. Tidy Green Clean is supporting clients to understand the guidance on how to minimise the spread of all respiratory infections, particularly Covid-19, in the workplace. We’re also including general advice, as a matter of course, to cover HR and operational concerns your employees, colleagues and partners may have, to help your business remain productive and thrive as we go about our daily lives in this brave new normal.

Key Areas

  1. Risk Assessment and Guidance
  2. People Considerations and Protocols
  3. Realignment and Management of Premises
  4. Cleaning and Sanitisation Regime

There are some key areas to focus on to help every business or facilities manager. The objective is to follow the latest guidance as a given, while also creating a set of reassuring practices to give your employees peace of mind that you’re doing everything to make the workplace safe and hygienic, and free from Covid-19 infection. By minimising the risk for everyone, rather than creating an additional burden, this will improve productivity and stability to help your business thrive.

Begin with a formal Risk Assessment in the usual way – if you don’t have anyone who does this for you, there is plenty of guidance on the HSE website or with local specialist HSEQ providers. It’s also worth checking to see whether your industry has any specific advice relevant to your own situation to see if there are elements you’ve overlooked.  Do create a Covid-19 Resilience Team from your employees, taken from different departments to make sure you’ve covered all bases and thought about accessibility for all staff. Continue to use Zoom or Teams or other digital conferencing to reduce the need for visitors to your premises.

Only bring people back into the premises if it’s essential. If your business has been able to continue with staff working from home, then it’s advisable to continue, possibly on a flexible basis, to reduce the headcount at your premises. Anyone who has been shielding should be offered, ideally, a working from home option for the foreseeable future to support staff and sustain goodwill and productivity during this difficult transitional period.

Almost inevitably, you may realise you need to reorganise your work areas, reduce the number of workstations or change the physical landscape, to improve social distancing in one of more rooms or areas. Recognise the challenges communal areas, such as toilets or kitchens, may present and decide whether there should be a one in, one out policy to improve social distancing in such areas.  

By raising already high standards of hygiene and providing appropriate PPE for those who request or require it, you will be demonstrating you’re doing absolutely everything you can to facilitate a return or a continuation of that return for all your workforce.

Deep cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures

To support good behaviour in the workplace, encourage frequent handwashing and social distancing to 2m or 1m plus other mitigating factors such as a mask or open windows. We would suggest you also consider installing additional signs, screens, sanitiser stations, logo mats and good practice posters. Human beings are social creatures and even if your staff are used to social distancing in the supermarket now, they’ve not yet formed those habits in the workplace.

Good communication is vital, as with everything. Don’t assume your staff are up-to-date with the latest guidance, so encourage them to read your protocols for themselves. We would encourage you to have a document for your employees to sign to say they’ve read, understood and will follow the new procedures, as a matter of course.

Work with your commercial cleaning provider to ensure there’s a regular supply of sanitiser in the office and frequently clean and disinfect objects/areas that are touched regularly, while investing in enhanced cleaning in busy areas. If you don’t already provide hand drying facilities such as hand dryers or paper towels, consider this as a valuable addition to the resources you provide for your workforce.

A word about PPE – it’s not a panacea and should only be used as a last resort because your risk assessment should eliminate all hazards as much as possible – unless of course you’re a GP or other medical or similar professional with specific guidance on PPE.  If you require it, all staff must be trained on the importance, application and use of PPE and enough stock should be built, maintained and cleaned. It goes almost without saying that PPE should not be shared!

Other considerations

Speak with your insurance company to make sure you have adequate and appropriate cover and reduce physical contact in daily transactions as much as possible, from taking contactless or digital payments to reducing face to face meetings and managing and reducing waste, in line with guidelines. We would also encourage you to support local suppliers to facilitate the appropriate resources to make the necessary changes in your workplace quickly and efficiently.


It can seem daunting to consider returning to premises but by working with your key suppliers and partners and involving the good will and ideas of your employees, you will discover the obstacles you’re worried about can be managed, mitigated or resolved. Tidy Green Clean has been working on office mobilisation strategies since May 2020 so if you want to talk through any concerns or need an imaginative solution, please don’t hesitate to give us a call because it’s quite likely we’ve already helped another business with the same dilemma. Having a healthy, hygienic and safe environment to work in has never been more important than it is now.

Tidy Green Clean is the leading environmentally-focused national franchise cleaning operation for blue chip organisations, and provide franchisees and master franchisees with the knowledge, training and support to be successful business owners, making the business model unique within the facilities management industry.  It achieved IS0 9001; 14001; and 45001 in under three years and a place in the top UK franchises, the EF100 for 2020. Rooted in green practices and technologies, the business is focused on understanding its customers and employees, and how to be successful without that being at the expense of other people or our planet.

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