Office Cleanliness, Hygiene Weigh on Workers Returning to Offices

Essity, a global hygiene and health company, announced the results of its “Return to Workplace” survey, conducted online on its behalf by The Harris Poll to understand the hygiene issues that are of greatest concern to employees as they transition back to the office after more than a year of working remote.

In addition to providing insights on the changes in attitudes and behaviors when it comes to personal and workplace hygiene, sanitation and cleanliness, the survey offers businesses a look into what people expect at work and other public places to facilitate office-wide adherence to hygiene protocols.

While “COVID fatigue” has Americans eager to put the pandemic behind them, survey results show that actions to increase health safety through better hygiene are here to stay.

Essity’s survey revealed that 84 percent of Americans intend to continue the enhanced hygiene practices they adopted during the pandemic such as more frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizer, even as more Americans become vaccinated against COVID-19.

However, employees question whether their workplace will maintain cleanliness protocols — with 65 percent of employed Americans who went into an office prior to COVID-19 expressing concern about the cleanliness and hygiene of the space before going back to the office. Moreover, as 59 percent of employed Americans who worked in an office prior to COVID-19 have at least some concern about being around coworkers, they also have heightened expectations of their employers when it comes to hygiene protocols in the office, and would like to see employers and building operators provide resources such as hand sanitization stations, more frequent cleaning and sanitizing, hands-free restroom fixtures and higher capacity paper towel dispensers in common areas and in bathrooms.

“As the world continues to open up and people resume interacting and living life in a more regular way, the role of hygiene will certainly remain more top-of-mind in the workplace and other public spaces than it was in the past, and this prioritized mindset comes across clearly in the research,” said Amy Bellcourt, VP Communications, Professional Hygiene, Essity North America. “We undertook this survey to prompt employers to ask themselves, ‘Are we ready?’ to welcome employees back by addressing their concerns, and then provide the insights needed to fully assess back-to-work plans so that there can be time to implement changes to ensure employees are in a consistently safe and healthy environment.”

Key findings of the survey include:

  • Office workers have a significant concern about office hygiene and cleanliness.
  • Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of employed Americans who went into an office prior to COVID-19 are/were concerned about the cleanliness and hygiene of the office upon their return.
  • Office workers have high expectations on office hygiene.
  • 84 percent of employed Americans who went into an office prior to COVID-19 are confident that their employer is/will enforce proper hygiene protocols in the office