The New Normal: Higher Hygiene Expectations
The new normal: higher hygiene expectations will be one of the pandemic’s lasting legacies
Dr Bill Robinson, at hygiene and pest control specialist Pelsis Group, explains why a greater focus on the hygiene of premises is set to outlast the Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s hard to understate the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had across the globe since the virus first emerged in late 2019. Life, as we knew it, has been transformed. Drastic measures, such as national lockdowns and stay at home orders, have been a way of life for large parts of the past year. And as we’ve battled to get to grips with the dangers Covid-19 poses, a huge emphasis has been put on the hygiene and safety of the places we visit.
Facing these exceptional circumstances, facilities managers operating across a range of settings, from hospitality and healthcare to commercial offices and transport, have gone to great lengths to reduce the threat of Covid-19 on their premises. Social distancing measures have been commonplace. In many circumstances, enhanced hygiene regimes have been implemented to minimise the risk of surface contamination. These measures have been instrumental in allowing many essential services to remain open during the past year.
Now, after a challenging twelve months, the UK’s vaccination programme is well underway and the country is preparing to open up again. The relaxation of lockdown offers an opportunity for many of us to return to our places of work, to shopping centres and to restaurants and theatres. As more people travel to meet friends and family, usage of public transport is set to increase again too. All this is welcome news as the UK looks to forge an economic coverage post-pandemic – but questions still remain about what the future will look like.
What’s new about normal?
The sheer gravity of the Covid-19 pandemic means it’s inevitable that we’ll be returning to a new normal as lockdown measures ease. And one of the key aspects of this new normal is that the public has become acutely attuned to the hygiene of the places they visit. Clearly, hygiene has become a key concern for both facilities managers and the wider public during the course of the pandemic. Independent research conducted by Pelsis Group has found that 87 per cent of the public think the hygiene of the places they visit is more important to them now than it was before the pandemic.
However, while that finding is not entirely unexpected, our research also suggests that a focus on hygiene is set to outlast the pandemic. Only seven per cent of people across the UK say the hygiene of the premises they visit will become less important to them after the pandemic. This finding suggests that a focus on hygiene is likely to be a longer-term trend – one of the lasting legacies of the Covid-19 pandemic that facilities managers need to plan for.
With hygiene set to remain at the forefront of the public consciousness, facilities managers will need to ensure that they can continue to demonstrate adherence to robust hygiene regimes in the long term. Members of the public will continue to seek reassurance that premises are safe and hygienic before visiting. In fact, more than two thirds of people say being able to check the hygiene protocols of premises online – and see stringent cleaning procedures taking place – would make them more likely to visit. Therefore, as we enter the new normal and the prevalence of Covid-19 recedes, facilities managers will need to demonstrate not that their premises are Covid-19 secure but rather that they are hygiene secure. For many, this will become a standard consideration alongside more traditional concerns around the physical security of premises.
Looking back across the past 12 months, it’s clear facilities managers have done a fantastic job in difficult circumstances to make their premises as safe as possible. Now, with increased public scrutiny of hygiene set to be a long-term trend, the steps facilities managers have already taken mean they are ideally positioned to adjust to a new normal. One in which the concept of hygiene security will be central.