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NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app launches 24/09/2020

THE NEW NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app is now available to download for free in England and Wales.

The app is designed to be the fastest way to see if people are at risk from coronavirus. 

If someone falls ill, they can tell the app, which will then forward their keys to a central server and in turn send them off to all app users in search of a match.

Should the system determine a person as a close contact, they will be automatically sent a notification and issued with guidance.

The app has a number of tools including contact tracing, local area alerts and venue check-in. It uses technology from Apple and Google, designed to protect every user’s privacy. 

Users are alerted if they have been near other app users who have tested positive for coronavirus and provides information on the level of risk in users' postcode district. Alerts are sent if users have visited a venue where they may have come into contact with coronavirus and there is an option to check for symptoms and see if a free test is required. The app then enables a test to be booked and if isolation is required, the app provides a "self-isolation countdown" and relevant advice.

Image courtesy of https://covid19.nhs.uk/,

Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63973274

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Churchill & Pareto partner with Hearst UK 17/09/2020

FACILITIES SERVICES providers Portfolio by Churchill and Pareto FM have been appointed by Hearst UK to provide soft and hard services to its London portfolio.

The terms of the deal will see Portfolio by Churchill deliver daily office cleaning, deep cleans, and event management, whilst Pareto will deliver all associated mechanical, electrical and fabric related planned and reactive maintenance as well as project management services.
 
The deal includes a number of innovative service solutions including a workplace hygiene programme – PRISM and Covid-19 mitigation services from Portfolio, and Pareto expanding its women in engineering programme with an electrical apprenticeship.
 
Hearst UK publishes 25 brands including ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping and Esquire. Its brands reach over one in three UK women and one in four UK men every month, enabling consumers to get more out of life and their trusted content engages them wherever they are. Hearst UK sells over four million magazines a month and reaches 20+ million UK digital unique users and has more than 79 million likes and follows via their social media platforms.
 
Sophie Wilkinson, head of operations and PMO, Hearst UK: “Since moving to Leicester Square in 2018, we have been keen to align our service partners to our new way of working; being able to deliver high cleaning and maintenance standards, whilst also operating as efficiently and effectively as possible. In Portfolio and Pareto we found two service partners that completely understood our ethos, high standards and approach to inclusivity and were able to demonstrate that we could create a true partnership.”
 
Antony Law, managing director, Portfolio by Churchill: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with Hearst UK and see our shared beliefs around inclusivity and standards create the right energy and atmosphere throughout their London property portfolio. Our partnership with Hearst UK and Pareto will, I’m sure, create opportunity for our team members as well as demonstrate the good that can come from like-minded teams working together to make the best workplace for everyone.”
 
Andrew Hulbert, managing director, Pareto FM: “We’ve been an admirer of Hearst UK for some time and aspired to be like them. They are a genuine world leader in diversity and inclusion strategy and genuinely lead from the front. We applauded their approach to LGBT+ and Black Lives Matter and We are Hearst | Hearstwatched with inspiration as they help to shape the world we live in. The opportunity to partner with a brand like Hearst UK is incredible and we look forward to this partnership. We are particularly excited to grow our women in engineering programme through this contract with the additional of an electrical apprentice.”
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UK company launches household cleaner that destroys COVID-19 in 60 seconds 16/09/2020

A BRITISH company has launched a household cleaner which destroys the SARS-CoV-2 virus - which causes COVID-19 – in just 60 seconds.

Cert. is manufactured by Hydrachem, which has specialised in this area of disinfection for almost 50 years. Cert’s tablet has the same formula, strength and level of disinfection as the main one manufactured by Hydrachem for use by the NHS, and which has the strength of disinfectant, together with a detergent, recommended by Public Health England.

Cert. is a simple to use, safe and convenient combined detergent and disinfectant - which comes in a handy tablet form with its own applicator. Cert’s powerful formula works equally well on hard surfaces and hard floors, and also kills 99.99% of microorganisms and germs commonly found in households.

Robin Rough, managing director of Hydrachem, says: “We see Cert. as a real breakthrough for cleaning and hygiene. We’ve manufactured for the NHS for many years - now everyone can destroy COVID-19 at home or at work.” Cert. is aimed at the home cleaning market as well as offices, cafes, bars and many other businesses, including hospitality.

Leading independent experts from across Europe have tested Cert. in a variety of conditions. These include Dr Jochen Steinmann of the highly respected Dr Brill +Partner, GMBH, Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology in Bremen, Germany. He has certified that Cert. effectively destroys all enveloped viruses in one minute, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus - which causes COVID-19. 

The strain used was modified vaccinia virus Ankara, the legally nominated and internationally recognised surrogate of SARS-CoV-2, as it is extremely rare that testing can take place on the actual SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Cert. complies with Public Health England’s guidelines on how to disinfect hard surfaces to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Public Health England states you should use: “a combined detergent disinfectant solution at a dilution of 1,000 parts per million available chlorine (ppm av.cl.).”

“That’s Cert. precisely,” Rough explains. “In its pre-dosed tablet form of combined detergent and disinfectant Cert. delivers the correct concentration and dosage, as recommended by Public Health England - Cert. provides you with hospital-grade hygiene both at home and work.”

Dr Andrew Kemp PhD, who is a specialist researcher in disinfection and decontamination, carried out rigorous testing on Cert. using the Kemp-Hirschman test for “wet in use” disinfectant products.

Dr Kemp says: “At the critical period - five minutes after treatment - Cert. killed 100% of the bacteria species used to contaminate the surfaces. You couldn’t ask for more.”

The types of surfaces tested were a wooden food chopping board, an alloy metal sink and a man-made high gloss kitchen work top.

“Making Cert.'s polypropylene packaging widely recyclable and reducing the impact on water resources and transported volume and weight were extremely important to us," says Rough.

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The show must go on 16/09/2020

WITH THE announcement that the Manchester Cleaning Show is to be run a virtual opportunity. There is still plenty on offer for online visitors.

The online conference programme, which takes place on 14 to 15 October 2020, has been designed to provide visitors with a broad cross section of insight from cleaning and hygiene experts. 

Wednesday 14 October 2020

11.15: Welcome to the Manchester Cleaning Show - Paul Thrupp, chairman of the British Cleaning Council.

11.30: The use of technology to enhance cleaning and hygiene in a post-COVID-19 world - Dominic Ponniah, co-founder, Cleanology.  

Since its launch 20 years ago, Cleanology now employs 700 people, boasts annual sales of over £10million, and includes royalty, blue-chip corporates and luxury brands amongst its clients. CEO Dominic Ponniah accredits growth to the company’s modern approach that focuses on environmental impact, people and innovation.  With hygiene under the spotlight more than ever before, cleaning firms need to use every tool available. During this presentation, Dominic will explain how to make use of technology to provide a more hygienic, effective service and to safeguard contracts.

Dominic Ponniah graduated from the London School of Economics and founded a number of businesses, including the high-profile TucTuc in Brighton, Europe’s first motorised rickshaw service. He co-founded Cleanology with his mother in 1999 and today employs around 600 people across London and Manchester.

12.15: Single use plastics post-COVID-19 - what it means to the cleaning industry -Lorcan Mekitarian, general manager, Berry bpi recycled products, and chairman of the CHSA.
Environmental concerns around SUP was top of the agenda for buyers and users pre-COVID-19. The government sought to address these concerns via a packaging tax. Along came the pandemic and brought a complete reversal of fortune for SUP. We saw home delivery of groceries exponentially grow and the use of plastic carrier bags reinstated to protect items and delivery drivers. We saw a demand spike for polythene aprons and disposable masks, both now essential to protect hospital staff and care home workers. We have seen shortages of dispenser pumps for hand washing, which are key in good hygiene practices.
Worldwide demand for disposable plastic has increased beyond production capabilities. We still need a packaging tax to increase the amount of recycled plastic that is used in our everyday items. Single use plastics are here to stay….but we need to find a way to stop them becoming litter.
Biography:
Lorcan Mekitarian joined Berry bpi recycled products in 1990 and has held a variety of positions over the years including technical and commercial. He is currently the sales director for the company’s refuse sack business. In July 2019 he was appointed chairman of the CHSA.

13.00: How to grow a business in a completive market - Nik Wyers, joint managing director, The Floorbrite Group. 

The Floorbrite Group has doubled in size from £10 million to £20 million in five years – how, and what’s the secret to its success? During his presentation Nik Wyers will discuss the exponential growth of what is now one of the North West’s largest cleaning and FM companies and how to create a successful business development function to accelerate growth. From marketing, technology, operations, organic and geographic growth, and the introduction of additional service lines, there are many different elements to a successful cleaning company and multiple ways to grow in what is an incredibly crowded market place. Nik will touch on all of these elements, but will focus on his core passion - developing a sales function that works, looking at different methods of leadership, and how to drive growth through consistency.

Nik Wyers is joint managing director at Sale-based cleaning and facilities service provider, The Floorbrite Group. He’s worked at the family-run business for 16 years in warehouse, operations, accounts, and sales. 

14.00: Innovation for a new era of cleaning: how science and technology is underpinning changing consumer demands and expectations and how we meet them - Dr Eileen Buttimer, managing partner - consumer advisory, Oakland Innovation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the drive for global research to address a number of areas in order to fight infection. As a result we are seeing emerging science and technology approaches going beyond the traditional chemical method and instead exploring a hybrid approach combining physical and biological strategies. During this presentation, Dr Eileen Buttimer will explore new innovations that will drive the next generation of cleaning solutions, not just in the professional settings of hospitals and workplaces but for consumers use and in the home as well.
Dr Eileen Buttimer has more than 20 years’ experience working with global consumer organisations, helping them to identify and evaluate new market and technology opportunities to drive future growth. Eileen holds an MBA and PhD in Biochemistry, and prior to joining Oakland, worked with DuPont, USA and UK leading new product development groups, and for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, UK.

14.45: Revolutionising the way we clean and disinfect with hypochlorous acid - Steve Courtney, business development manager, Toucan Eco.

The impact of COVID-19 means frequent cleaning and effective disinfecting have never been so important. Sustainability remains on the agenda for businesses, schools and workplaces looking to reduce their environmental impact by cutting carbon emissions, improving recycling strategies and minimising single-use plastic waste. Toucan Eco offers an effective and sustainable way to do all of these things, and it removes the need for most chemicals as well as the single-use plastic bottles they are supplied in.
Toucan Eco is helping businesses transform cleaning practices with an effective, safe and eco-friendly hypochlorous acid disinfectant they can make themselves from water, salt and electricity. That’s it. It’s certified to EN 14476 and 16777 for its high virucidal efficacy and is proven to kill viruses, including coronaviruses, at speed. Hypochlorous acid disinfectant is already being used around the world to help control the spread of viruses. 
Steve Courtney will demonstrate Toucan Eco, explain the technology behind it and share examples of where it’s being used here in the UK, as well as in developing countries to turn polluted water into safe drinking water. 

Steve Courtney is Robert Scott’s product specialist for Toucan Eco, helping businesses adopt this sustainable and innovative technology to transform their cleaning routines, as well as advising national partners on wider cleaning hardware. Steve has worked in the cleaning industry for over 20 years in various roles with distributors, manufacturers, independents, and PLCs. 

15.30: Fireside Chat - Neil Nixon speaks with Paul Ashton, CEO, Birkin Cleaning Services, about his experiences during the pandemic and his thoughts on the future of commercial cleaning post-COVID-19.

16.00: A global perspective: what lessons can we learn from cleaning contractors around the world in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic?

Hosted by Neil Nixon, this panel comprises: Dianna Steinbach, vice president of international services, ISSA, Germany; Jonathan King, CEO, Samsic; Shawn McIntosh, COO, Atalian Servest, USA; and Paul Fereday , head of operations, UK Cleaning Excellence, ISS.

As the challenge of getting countries open for business post-COVID-19 rolls out across the world, this webinar will seek to understand the challenges faced by different countries and regions. Contractors from Europe and the USA will discuss the solutions they have employed to meet the specific problems they have faced in their own countries, creating an ‘information exchange’ for the benefit of all participants. The take-away should be a list of tried and tested techniques that can be applied in the fight against COVID-19.


Thursday 15 October 2020

10.45: Fireside Chat.
Neil Nixon speaks with Paul Thrupp, chairman of the British Cleaning Council, CEO, about the cleaning sector’s role during the pandemic and his aspirations for the future of commercial cleaning post-COVID-19.

11.30: A change in philosophy - the benefits of hiring your industrial cleaning equipment - Martin Doran, general manager at Astley Hire.
 
Astley Hire will be exploring the benefits of hiring your industrial cleaning equipment and challenging the industry status-quo of outright purchasing. Astley Hire is a business with significant expertise and experience in the specialist equipment hire industry, and this presentation will provide a fresh perspective on why the time for hiring is now! From expert hints and tips, compelling customer testimonials and decades of industry experience, don’t miss this unique opportunity to learn how you can deliver efficiency to your cleaning equipment processes. 

Martin Doran, general manager at Astley Hire Ltd, has 15 years’ experience of working in the hire industry, across many different sectors. Martin originally started life as a commercial management accountant before progressing to the general manager role at Astley Hire. Martin is passionate about hire and the commercial benefits it can bring to any business model. 

12.15: How a good marketing strategy can help grow your business - Suzanne Howe, managing director, SHC, and Neil Nixon, conference director, Manchester Cleaning Show.

Neil Nixon quizzes Suzanne Howe about different marketing techniques that can be employed to have a positive impact on winning and retaining customers. Topics to be discussed include: marketing to establish your brand; understanding your customer and how to reach them; retaining customers through engagement; the power of social media, including detail on the how, when and why of each social media platform; the power of photographs; reinforcing your brand through good CSR; and using a successful mix of marketing techniques and platforms.

Suzanne Howe, managing director of Suzanne Howe Communications (SHC) established her business 22 years ago as a specialist B2B PR and marketing agency. Suzanne works across a number of clients including Kimberly-Clark Professional and the Golden Service Awards as well as Berry bpi recycled products, InnuScience, P-Wave, Clarity, and Cleanology, providing PR and marketing campaigns, event management and social media consultancy.

13.00: The importance of training and assessment - Stan Atkins, CEO, British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc).

The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) has been delivering training since the 1960s. This presentation will take a deep dive into the importance of training and assessment, how it can benefit your organisation and - more importantly - your people. It will also cover how training motivates and promotes experiential learning within your organisation. ‘What happens if I train them and they leave?’ Well, think about what happens if you don’t train them and they stay! BICSc will share a ‘train and retain’ ethos, and how training will have a positive effect on your company’s bottom line. 

Stan Atkins has over 40 years’ experience in the cleaning industry, and is first and foremost driven to address the needs of the cleaning operative. Stan has keen interests in the areas of technical skills and training, quality control and measurement, and robotics. Stan has been at the helm of The British Institute of Cleaning Science for over 12 years and is proud to lead an organisation that can help form the future direction of the cleaning industry.

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Manchester Cleaning Show moves to September 2021 14/09/2020

THE ORGANISERS of the Manchester Cleaning Show have announced that the event will now be replaced by a virtual exhibition and conference.

In a statement, the organisers announced: "This has been a saddening decision for everyone working on the Manchester Cleaning Show, but we have unanimously agreed that the best course of action is to re-schedule the event. The show will now be held in September 2021.

The rescheduling of the event has been cited as a result of the latest government rules regarding social gatherings, and the on-going local lockdown in the Greater Manchester Area. The statement asserted: "[This] has forced us to re-evaluate our plans for the event. We have always put the health and safety of our exhibitors and visitors first, and will continue to do so.
 
"We have been, and remain, steadfast in our commitment to stage a much-needed physical exhibition and conference for the industry. We hope that the move to September 2021 will see us able to operate freely without social distancing restrictions, and ensures that we do not interfere or clash with other planned industry events.
 
"But there is so much to discuss right now. So many of our exhibitors have products that can help the UK get back to business; and so many individuals need the support and the contacts that an event brings. The UK cleaning industry needs an opportunity to come together now so we will be staging a virtual version of the Manchester Cleaning Show on the same dates of the planned event on 14-15 October 2020.
 
"This isn’t what we had hoped for but the opportunities that this virtual event presents are exciting and we have a really innovative platform to show you. There are no apps to download, you can view everything on a device of your choice, and it will deliver exciting content and business solutions for our visitors and a vital commercial opportunity for our exhibitors. It’s important that we come together."
 
Exhibitors are being contacted individually regarding the multiple options available to them, and those professionals already registered to attend the Manchester Cleaning Show will soon receive an invitation and access details to take part in the virtual version.
 
The statement concluded: "The industry has demonstrated resilience, adaptability, and innovation throughout this pandemic and we must thank all our exhibitors, visitors and speakers for your continued support and patience. We look forward to welcoming you to the Manchester Cleaning Show Virtual in October."
 
The Manchester Cleaning Show is organised by the BCCE Board and comprises:

John Oliver, Chair, British Cleaning Council Exhibitions | Paul Thrupp, Chairman, British Cleaning Council | Stan Atkins, Group CEO, British Institute of Cleaning Science | Deborah Bland, Global Marketing Manager BSC and Retail, Diversey | Darren Marston, Executive Chairman, Industrial Cleaning Equipment Ltd | Paul Michael, Vice President, Quartz Business Media | Steve Diprose, CEO, Quartz Business Media | Tony Crinion, Managing Director, Quartz Business Media | Stuart Dacre, Event Director, Quartz Business Media

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Mirius strengthens its professional cleaning offering 11/09/2020

ACCORDING TO Mirius the Hycolin Professional Antiviral cleaning range contains powerful and safe disinfectants that have been proven to kill coronaviruses, offering the highest standard of cleaning.

Mirius - one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of professional cleaning and hygiene solutions has further extended its professional cleaning offering with the introduction of new Hycolin Antiviral Disinfectant Cleaners. 

The newly developed range responds perfectly to the current needs of industry professionals who require trusted antiviral cleaning. All Hycolin Professional products have been scientifically formulated to be highly effective against a wide range of bacteria and viruses’ killing 99.99% of germs and viruses in under 5 minutes. This includes E. coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the superbug Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

The powerful range has been rigorously tested by independent specialists and certified to a number of BS EN Standards, including BS EN 1276, BS EN 1650, BS EN 13697 and importantly BS EN 14476: 2013+A2:2019 - proving the range effective against enveloped viruses including coronaviruses.

Mirius' commercial director, Darren Langdon said: “Our new Antiviral range once again places Mirius at the very forefront of the professional cleaning sector. One of our key drivers has been the development of a range of products proven to kill coronaviruses with each product in the range being designed and formulated to do a specific cleaning task. This makes each antiviral product unique - a different antiviral product for each cleaning area - meaning less chance of cross contamination and a higher level of bio-security.”  

The new range features products for all applications including: washroom cleaner, kitchen cleaner, stainless steel & glass cleaner, hand soap, toilet gel and a range of aerosol room and surface sprays. All of the trigger bottles within the range are made from 100% recycled plastic (rPET) and are 100% recyclable after use. The products are also bleach-free, fragrance-free, vegan friendly and never tested on animals. 

Based on its world renowned and industry leading Hycolin Hospital Disinfectant, used in critical hygiene applications such as hospitals, healthcare, and food production - Hycolin Professional Antiviral is designed to take-the-lead in powerful, safe, and environmentally conscientious cleaning.

This newly developed category of antiviral disinfectant cleaners is independently tested to BS EN 14476: 2013+A2:2019 - proving the range effective against enveloped viruses including coronaviruses. The end user is fully supported with information sheets, usage wallcharts and technical documentation.
 

For more information visit www.mirius.com

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Making the return to the office a safe ride 11/09/2020

Against the backdrop of potential employer liability, Raj Krishnamurthy discusses how facilities teams are using technology to visibly communicate the preventative measures being taken - and to reassure the wider office population.

WITH MILLIONS around the UK preparing to head back to the office for the first time in months, employers and office managers are making preparations for a smooth and safe return. Teams across facilities, real estate, technology and HR are all working together to ensure the safety of the workplace. Long-term workplace strategies are being developed and implemented. In the process, it is becoming ever clearer that leadership, change management, communication and technology will all play pivotal roles in this change.

In many ways, the pandemic has not changed the direction of office evolution, only accelerated it. Employers are under a legal obligation to maintain health and safety provisions and the government has released guidance on how best to ensure employee safety. This includes carrying out risk assessments, reinforcing cleaning practices, maintaining a two metre distance where possible and managing transmission risk where distancing is not possible. While employee behaviour might need to change, the means by which these processes are implemented are in line with many practices developing through office design over the previous decades.

It is undeniable that technology will play a key role in the development and successful implementation of these new practices. We have seen over the previous months the way data insights have been central to the governmental response and in educating the public. Offices have been integrating these processes into their daily functioning for many years, leading to the development of smart buildings. These innovations will now be more important than ever, finding newly central roles in footfall management and efficient targeting of cleaning practices.
 
 

Compliance and planning
 
First and foremost, employers, facilities managers and cleaning teams will need to feel confident they are prepared for the return of staff. The government guidance includes rotas, procedures and policies to enable social distancing and risk management. Employers are recommended to review floorplans and introduce one-way systems to limit flow.
 
Although many may be returning to the office in the coming months, it is unlikely that any buildings will be able to return to full occupancy before 2021. Programmes which monitor occupancy rates will play a central role in enabling the most appropriate measures to be put in place at any one time. Organisations will need to understand their occupancy threshold for safe practice and to keep track of when that threshold is neared. Those already utilizing smart devices will have a headstart but very rapidly, this technology will become the baseline for office safety.
 
These technologies will enable organisations to take a proactive occupancy-based approach. With mixed evidence about the length of time for which the virus can survive on different services, cleaning practices are at risk of being stretched in every direction. Ensuring regular high-quality cleaning practices alone is no longer enough. While regular cleaning will go some way to alleviate any “hygiene anxiety”, doing so in an un-directed measure will place a strain on cleaning resources, potentially leading to less efficient practices and costing more in time and cleaning products. Cleaning must be more frequent for high-contact surfaces such as desks, door handles and communal surfaces. Use of certain areas such as conference rooms will require thorough cleaning after each occupant. It is key to understand which are the areas that will require greater attention rather than increasing cleaning indiscriminately.
 
Solutions such as the Freespace Cleanreader are quickly becoming a vital asset. Real-time data can be used to alert the cleaning teams as soon as an area has been vacated so it can be cleaned immediately. The area can then be recorded as having been cleaned, releasing it back into the ‘availability pool’ and making others aware that it is safe for use. This simple process is a highly effective way of ensuring the safety of all areas and reassuring staff they are not at any unnecessary risk. This technology can also utilize occupancy data to inform staff how regularly cleaning needs to take place on any particular day. Existing floorplans combined with occupancy data, for example, can be used to create clear visual diagrams signalling which areas are due to be cleaned or are at higher risk due to high usage. Cleaning staff are equipped with handheld devices that receive data from sensors in the area. Push notifications can alert the cleaner to areas that have been vacated and require cleaning before the next occupant.

A key tool in the mix is the Freespace booking app to help employees plan their day into work. Enabling the reservation of a clean, socially distance desk for employees to use on their days at work, the app also helps manage communications and questionnaires to ensure employee wellbeing. Futher it helps users to coordinate their visits into work with an inner circle of colleagues ensuring they are there together on the same days and find safe spaces in the vicinity of each other easily. The app, which integrates with smart tags on the desks, also becomes a key tool in office based contract tracing. 
 

Employee behaviour
 
Communicating effectively with employees is another element of the workplace that must be more efficient and effective than ever. New practices such as one-way flow need to be clearly signposted to make the process of returning to the office as hassle- and stress-free as possible. Practices such as social distancing, washing hands more regularly, and allowing time for cleaning certain areas between use may take time to adjust to and employees might need an extra nudge to make sure they remember.

The precautions taken may change daily or hourly due to occupancy and behaviour. It is important to be as agile as possible. Digital signage is a growing part of this communication process, enabling easy navigation in an environment which, for many, has suddenly become stressful. Clear signage will be vital in communicating what policies are in place and the behaviours required of staff, as well as which areas are safe and open for use and which are currently closed. As well as being more adaptable to change, research by Intel has shown that digital signage captures 400% more views than static signage. Of course, this isn’t limited to messages reminding employees to wash their hands and avoid touching their face. Displaying live data on socially distanced spaces to use, cleaned space availability and the cleaning regime in place will both reassure staff and make staying safe as easy as possible.
 
As offices will not yet be functioning at full capacity, an additional layer of staff management will be necessary. Two main options are being discussed: ‘split-group’ and ‘split-desk’ strategies. The former separates employees into different weekly groups. This should minimise disruption if an outbreak occurs as the number of people any individual may have come into contact with is limited. The latter concept alternates desk usage between days, leaving more time for cleaners to react to demand. Whatever strategy an organisation chooses to work with, it will need to clearly communicate these measures to its staff and explain the behaviours required of them. Digital messages both as signage and through smartphone notifications will make this process seamless.
 

Employee reassurance
 
Of course, while it is important to manage the behaviour of employees and ensure they are taking all required safety precautions, anxiety will play a part and employers must be aware. So much has changed so quickly in the past months. For many, the working practices they have taken for granted for years have changed overnight. Jobs have been at risk or furlough has left employees out of sort. Many have feared for their health and the health of their loved ones. Returning to the workplace can bring many back to a familiar and comforting sense of routine that has been sorely missing.
 
However, to ensure this is more reassuring than stressful, communication from management will be imperative. Cleaning, once a ‘behind the scenes’ profession often relegated to non-working hours, will now be seen as a reassuring presence in the workplace. Seeing the precautions taken will be an important element of the post-COVID office. In addition to signage around the workplace, smartphones are a useful way to keep staff up to date, allow them to plan when they will be in the office without exceeding safe occupancy, and quickly notify everyone of changes. Regular updates and clear signs reassure employees that everything possible is being done to manage risk and will allow them to get back to work without unnecessary worry or distraction.
 

Conclusion
The return to the office may at first seem like a huge challenge. In additon to implementing numerous changes, employers are aware of their liability and the fears of their staff. This return will be one more challenge thrown up by 2020 but it need not be a difficult one. There are numerous technologies which can allay any fears and keep staff safe. If anything, COVID-19 has demonstrated the ingenuity in the field of workplace design and management.

Raj Krishnamurthy is CEO of Freespace, a specialist in workplace technology designed to help organisations make science-based decisions.

For more information visit www.afreespace.com​

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The impact of COVID-19 on pest professionals 23/09/2020

As the global impact of COVID-19 continues, Daniel Groves believes that stopping pest professionals from being able to work makes little sense. So, how exactly has the pandemic affected pest professionals and how have companies in this sector had to adapt?

BUSINESSES ON a global scale have been impacted by COVID-19 and the effects of lockdown. However, for some industries, the impact has been even more significant – for example, pest professionals have found themselves unable to work throughout lockdown which has not only affected these businesses but also created a host of problems for other industries as well. 

Many pest control companies had to close during lockdown. Alarmingly, pest control was not considered a vital service during lockdown, even with hygiene being such a huge priority. 

“A lack of foresight in the early days of the pandemic meant the government forced pest control services to close,” said Mark Stanford of Empire Pest Control. “This was a huge mistake, and businesses have been paying the price. If left unchecked, pests can cause a significant amount of damage and the infestation could worsen, making it more difficult to get the situation under control”.

In addition to affecting pest control companies, there is the dual issue that by stopping pest control professionals from working, the problem of pest infestations is also now on the rise.

Because pest professionals have been unable to work for several months as a result of COVID-19, it’s now a bigger job to remove pests from the likes of hotels, offices and commercial kitchens. With so many commercial premises opening after months of being left vacant, the issue of infestations is larger and more difficult to tackle.

Pest control is vital during COVID-19
With businesses closed for months, pests have had free reign. This will be even more likely in premises where goods have been stored and unmonitored for much of 2020 due to closures, such as warehouses or kitchens and food preparation areas. 

Pests can cause immense damage to stock, which in turn can cost businesses an enormous amount of money to replace. Many business owners are now returning to work and finding that their premises are overrun with pests – not only is this a problem for a business’ reputation but it can also be incredibly costly and lead to financial ramifications that weren’t planned for. 

As more companies open up following lockdown, there will no doubt be a rise in the need of pest control services for their premises. There are many types of pests present in urban settings around the world and they are commonly carriers of disease, which can contaminate food supplies and cause physical damage to property and buildings. 

In fact, the World Health Organization lists more than 30 pathogenic bacteria, germs and viruses which can be spread by rodents and parasites alone. What’s more, other pests such as birds, cockroaches, flies and fleas can pose a health and economic threat, causing a problem for manufacturing plants, medical facilities and hospitals, education premises, accommodation and many more sectors. With the public so fearful of disease and more vigilant of poor hygiene now, these risks need to be minimised as much as possible if companies are to continue to operate. 

Pest professionals have had to change how they work
Much like many industries around the world, pest professionals have had to adapt to work differently in order to adhere to the guidelines set out by governments. 
For example, social distancing is now vital in order to keep employees and customers safe. It’s more important than ever that hygiene precautions are taken to minimise the spread of bacteria and viruses too. 

The pandemic has presented the world with a threat unlike anything we’ve experienced before, and it has forced us all to work more flexibly in order to meet the health and safety regulations and prevent a second wave of the virus. 

From using PPE to protect staff and minimise the spread of germs to using higher-quality cleaning products that can disinfect more thoroughly, there are various ways that pest control businesses need to operate now to stay protected and contribute towards a safer environment. 

Pest control may not be an industry you immediately think of as being digitally-focused, but along with many other businesses around the world, companies have had to take their services online in order to continue working but stay safe at the same time. 

Businesses have had to make use of online communication tools to keep in touch with clients, as well as making sure that customer details are stored safely and accessibly so that everyone can access them when necessary. This is something that pest professionals have had to adopt as well in order to provide their services and keep customers informed of their business. 

Re-thinking relationships with clients
The most important thing for pest professionals to consider is how to keep employees and customers safe at all times. This means rethinking the relationship between businesses and clients and how companies can operate in order to maintain these relationships without putting anyone at risk. 

One way to achieve this in light of the coronavirus is by making fewer site visits and more video calls with clients to minimise the number of in-person meetings while still allowing staff to provide a great service. Instead of sending paperwork or documents to clients, these can also be sent digitally, which is not only a safer option but also more convenient for the client. 

Where interior services are being offered, further precautions need to be taken. It can be beneficial to have customers submit a pre-service screening questionnaire which can ensure that those on-site during a visit are free from illness and also to ensure that customers will adhere to distancing guidelines and cleanliness requirements.  

Safety assessments have become even more important
Pest control professionals are familiar with having to work to strict guidelines in order to stay safe, but those regulations have been extended even further as a result of the pandemic. Safety assessments are now even more important, not only to prevent exposure to chemicals and products but also to reduce to risk of contracting the disease. 

Pest control businesses need to work closely with clients to find ways to cause minimal disruption while also carrying out their work efficiently. It’s also more important now that workers have the appropriate PPE so that they are protected and can keep others safe in turn. 

Managing risks during site visits
Before making a site visit, businesses will benefit from keeping customers up to date as things progress, such as calling ahead to make sure nothing has changed from the customer’s perspective and reminding them of the appointment. 

It can also be useful to use online booking tools so that customers can get estimates, book appointments and make payments without needing to risk person-to-person contact. 

Where physical site visits are needed, there are ways that pest control professionals can meet safety requirements and carry out their work without posing a risk. Along with keeping a 2m distance from others wherever possible, it’s also a good idea to discuss this with the client beforehand so that they are aware that staff will require social distancing to be in place to stay safe. 

This can include asking clients to keep internal doors open to minimise direct contact with door handles and make moving within the premises much easier. Professionals should wash their hands regularly with soap and water, as well as washing their hands immediately upon entering and leaving the client’s site. 
Another way that pest control staff can protect themselves going forward is to take breaks outside and not consume food and drinks on-site, only drinking or eating food that they have brought with them themselves where necessary. 

When possible, businesses should liaise with clients digitally or over the phone, even if they are on the same site, as this will prevent the need to stand too close to one another while still enabling them to work effectively. For situations where this is not possible, staff should speak to clients outside or in well-ventilated rooms while still maintaining a distance. 

Taking precautions away from the site
It’s important to remember that health and safety doesn’t stop being a priority once staff are off-site. Social distancing should still be maintained between staff and where possible, employees should work in bubbles to prevent germs being spread between teams. 

It’s also a good idea to thoroughly clean and disinfect vehicles upon leaving a site so that the vehicle is safe to get back into for the next visit. A robust cleaning regimen should be a core element of any COVID-19 prevention strategy, and this includes pest control equipment, PPE and vehicles, as well as any items or products that staff or clients have touched during a site visit. 

Pest control could become even more important
Public health is important at all times, but especially now, which is why pest management professionals are now being recognised as key workers. It’s believed that pest management will be even more important going forward, particularly now that food preparation premises and restaurants have started to open up again. 
From rodents to birds, insects to invasive species, there are various types of pests that can affect a business and ruin a reputation which could be devastating to any business. 

Following the closure of these types of business, there have been increasing reports of rats and pigeons from the public which is a result of these premises being left vacant and unmanaged for such a long time. 

With the warmer weather, it’s incredibly important that we all dispose of waste in an appropriate manner in order to prevent pests from infesting homes and businesses. Now that businesses are prioritising hygiene more, pest control will undoubtedly become a vital issue that needs to be maintained. Pests carry diseases and have the potential to with coronavirus, so it’s critical that they are kept at bay and prevented from infesting buildings, food storage and medical facilities so as not to risk further spread of the disease. 

Final thoughts
The pest control industry has been hit hard by the implications of coronavirus, but now that lockdown is being lifted and life is beginning to return to a new normal, businesses need to find ways to adapt in order to stay afloat during this time. 

There are ways for pest control professionals to work safely and still provide a great service to customers, but it does require flexibility and a focus on health and safety in order to keep everyone involved protected. 

Daniel Groves is an independent business growth consultant. 

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Gatherings of six or more to be banned in England 09/09/2020

THE PRIME Minister is set to announce that new COVID-19 restrictions will be put in place, taking effect from Monday 14 September 2020.

Gatherings of more than six people will be banned in England "for the forseeable future" including gardens, parks, pub gardens, or indoors. Exceptions will be granted if households or support bubbles are larger; work or education; weddings or funerals; or organised team sports held in a Covid-secure way.

The government's new restrictions are designed to restrict the rising number of coronavirus cases across England - almost 8500 positive tests have been recorded in the last three days.  

Ministers are concerned that younger people have been ignoring the rules and putting older relatives and more vulnerable people at risk.

The Prime Minister is expected to tell the press conference: "We need to act now to stop the virus spreading. So we are simplifying and strengthening the rules on social contact - making them easier to understand and for the police to enforce."

"It is absolutely critical that people now abide by these rules and remember the basics – washing your hands, covering your face, keeping space from others, and getting a test if you have symptoms."

nder current rules for England, guidelines limit most outdoor gatherings to six people, or no more than two households or household bubbles if people are meeting indoors.

Full guidance on exceptions will be announced at Downing Street later today.

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Daily UK COVID-19 cases hit highest level since May 07/09/2020

OFFICIAL FIGURES published on 6 September 2020 show 2988 new COVID-19 infections were reported within a 24-hour period - a rise of 1175 from the previous day.

The figure is the highest daily total since 23 May, when there were 2959 cases of COVID-19.

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said he was 'concerned' and said that the positive tests were mainly among younger people, adding that this could lead to a rise across the population as a whole.

Hancock said: "It's so important that people don't allow this illness to infect grandparents and lead to the sort of problems we saw earlier in the year."

When asked about a second wave and the possibility of another lockdown, he replied: "We'll take whatever action is necessary."

The Health Secretary tweeted that the government is providing 250,000 clear face masks to NHS and care workers to help them communicate with people with certain conditions like hearing loss, autism & dementia. He said: "Innovation is vital in our mammoth national effort against coronavirus."

Overall, 347,152 cases have now been confirmed and the total number of deaths in the UK is 41,551.

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