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What is Hygiene Theater and How to Move Beyond It

For the last several months the Coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on our lives, and cleaning and disinfecting efforts have intensified to the point where some are considered "hygiene theater".

What is hygiene theater exactly?

It's an overwhelming response to cleaning and disinfecting that serves more to placate than actually produce effective results. Think workers being sprayed in a "disinfection tunnel" or robots applying powerful disinfectant to surfaces. While these efforts do help to make the public feel better, this all-out war on germs preys more on soothing anxieties than it does on combating germs and pathogens effectively.

How to move beyond hygiene theater?

To move beyond hygiene theater, there needs to be a focus on three key areas to create a new culture of clean: education, observation, and communication. 

On the educational side of things, your janitorial staff should know the proper cleaning protocols, tools, and when to employ them. We've developed several Clean Guides to help determine what's needed in different facilities, room-by room and step-by-step, focusing on surfaces, air quality, and hand hygiene. 

Moving on to observation: it's important to not hide your janitorial staff away, only doing cleaning at night or when spaces are empty. Let your employees and staff see their spaces being cleaned and disinfected properly, and this will help encourage the same efforts by staff. Having disinfecting wipes in common areas like break rooms and conference rooms will encourage staff participation in ongoing efforts in the new culture of clean.

Finally, communication. Probably the single most important thing you can do to establish a culture of clean is to let people know you're cleaning. For the most part, this has been regulated to restroom cleaning, but it's time to move beyond the restroom. Conference rooms, desks, and signage front and center that your space has been cleaned and disinfected will instill confidence for anyone who enters your facility. Fitness centers do this well by indicating when machines are cleaned and ready for use.

The best lesson we can learn from cleaning during COVID-19? We have a real opportunity to create a new, elevated culture of clean that we can all benefit from.


Related Content:

Explore Zogics Clean Guide Library

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