Three in five Aussies tasked with cleaning their workplaces amid COVID-19, study finds

Almost 60 per cent of employees surveyed admitted their organisations have asked them, or colleagues, to clean areas of their workplace.

New research has revealed that, while most workplaces are cleaning their premises regularly and thoroughly, many Aussie employees have been tasked with carrying out office cleaning themselves.

The research found 59 per cent of employees surveyed admitted their organisations have asked them, or their colleagues, to clean areas of their workplace.

The findings come from an independent survey of a nationally representative panel of 1000 Australian employees, commissioned by Cleancorp.

The survey also found that more than half (55 per cent) of Aussie workers have been asked by management – or think they will be asked when they get back to work – to take responsibility for sanitising their own workspaces so that it becomes a normal part of their workday, and doesn’t burden the company with additional cleaning costs.

According to the study, those working in the media and entertainment, healthcare and retail industries are more likely to have been tasked with such responsibilities.

Three-quarters (73 per cent) of those in the media and entertainment industry and an equal 64 per cent in healthcare and retail are taking responsibility for the sanitisation of their workspaces. This compares with 46 per cent working in IT, energy and telecommunications services, and 40 per cent in financial and insurance services.

However, there is a silver lining. It appears most organisations are being cleaned more regularly, more thoroughly, or both. Forty-four (44) per cent of respondents say their workplace is being cleaned more regularly, while 15 per cent say their workplace is being cleaned more thoroughly, and a fifth (20 per cent) reveal it is being cleaned more regularly and more thoroughly.

It also appears the larger the organisation, the more regularly their workplaces are being cleaned.

More than half (54 per cent) of respondents in organisations of 501-1000 employees and 51 per cent of respondents in organisations of 51-500 employees say their workplace is being cleaned more regularly. This compares with 44 per cent of those in small organisations (15-50 employees), and 34 per cent micro-businesses (up to 15 employees).

Two-thirds (66 per cent) of respondents also say their workplace is being cleaned daily. In fact, a higher proportion of those working in the education industry say their workplace is being cleaned every day, at 79 per cent, along with 74 per cent of those in healthcare. This compares with 56 per cent of those in IT, energy and telecommunications, and 54 per cent of those in the building and construction industry.

Despite Safe Work Australia advising workplaces clean frequently touched surfaces – such as counters, door handles, light switches, elevator buttons and taps – at least once daily[1],  34 per cent of respondents admit their workplaces are not cleaned that often.

However, more than a fifth (22 per cent) say they have not seen any additional cleaning efforts to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection in their workplace.

Lisa Macqueen, co-founder and director of Cleancorp, said it is concerning to see such a high number of workplaces are asking their own employees to do the cleaning work, and that many are not implementing daily cleaning practices.

“Given the current climate, cutting corners by using untrained staff and failing to enforce appropriate measures in the workplace can have a devastating impact on your organisation, as it not only opens staff up to the risk of contracting COVID-19, but to injury as well.

“Organisations have a responsibly to keep their staff safe and it is extremely important to hire a professional anti-viral cleaning service to undertake the cleaning of the workplace on a regular basis.

“Hiring a service that has been cleaning to a hospital standard for years, such as Cleancorp, will also ensure you are actively working to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection.

“If budget constraints hinder your organisation from accessing a daily professional cleaning service, consider flexible work arrangements that allow staff to work from home on the days the workplace goes without a clean.”

[1] COVID-19 information for workplaces, Safe Work Australia, https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/covid-19-information-workplaces/industry-information/general-industry-information/cleaning

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