CEO Insider

Hygiene-driven efficiency: a value-driving benefit for businesses

Dr. Lisa Ackerley

The last two years have been a turbulent period for businesses across almost every industry. Some businesses have struggled to stay afloat, while others have adapted their operating models and have prospered. For those that have struggled, a laser-sharp focus on efficiency has become integral to their success. 

When businesses think about efficiency, hygiene is not necessarily the first driver that comes to mind – but in an evolving economic landscape, how can a focused approach to hygiene facilitate positive change for a business’s bottom line?

A complex operating environment 

Today’s operating environment presents a trifecta of challenges for businesses – labor shortage, inflationary pressure, and fluctuating gas prices. Compounded by the aftermath of the pandemic, businesses are forced to make do with less, requiring them to be hyper-focused on efficiency.

The labor market conditions add further challenges for businesses. America has more than three million fewer people participating in the workforce today compared to February 2020.  For hygiene, the implications of this are two-fold. Firstly, finding willing cleaning staff and the budget to recruit and train them is more difficult. Secondly, businesses struggle if staff are out sick when their workforce is already lean. 

Now consider the expectation that businesses will do more when it comes to helping prevent the spread of illness-causing germs. A March 2022 survey from Lysol Pro Solutions found that only a third of workers rated their office protocols as excellent.2 Businesses that don’t meet these employee expectations risk lowering worker confidence, and potentially even losing employees.

Against this backdrop, a more intelligent approach to hygiene can hold the key to improving efficiency.

Clean smarter, not harder: three steps to more intelligent hygiene 

With a more targeted approach to tackling the spread of germs, businesses can ensure their resources are focused on disinfecting high-traffic and high-touch surfaces. The adage of work (or in this case: clean) smarter, not harder, has never rung truer. 

First, businesses must understand the science behind how people move and interact within a workplace, and the surfaces they touch throughout the day. Second, they must understand what these surfaces are made of and therefore, what products work best to clean and disinfect them. And third, they must analyze timing and frequency of cleaning efforts and develop an approach that targets hotspots appropriately throughout the working day.

To bring this theory to life, let’s consider an office environment. Research demonstrates that the germiest hotspots in an office are often surfaces we don’t always think of as being higher-risk for contamination, such as elevator buttons and keyboards. These are the areas that need extra attention from cleaning teams. 

Analysis suggests that uneven surfaces such as keyboards can be difficult to clean and disinfect, so product selection needs careful consideration, bearing in mind that the product used should be suitable for that specific surface and effective at killing germs.

When it comes to timing and frequency of cleaning, a business should consider traffic patterns in conjunction with high touch areas – for example, shared surfaces in a conference room where a meeting has just ended. As it is not pragmatic nor efficient for cleaning staff to clean the conference room between each meeting, disinfection products placed in the conference room can empower meeting attendees to disinfect high-touch areas, and help protect themselves and their co-workers from the spread of germs. 

Bottom-line benefits

A more targeted approach to cleaning and disinfection can potentially yield key bottom-line benefits:

  • Labor efficiency where businesses can direct their cleaning staff with greater agility and focus on the key hotspots in the facilities that tend to host the most germs. 
  • Efficient product use where businesses can optimize the dosage of products used without indiscriminately spraying large areas without consideration for science, efficacy, and cost. In the longer term, utilization of the right product in the right way can help the business preserve asset life, maximizing value for the business.
  • Worker productivity through instilling confidence in the environment and potentially reducing sick days through a reduction in the spread of germs.

What can businesses do to make hygiene more efficient?

A business looking to drive efficiency via hygiene can implement a three-pronged approach:

  1. Partner with innovative, trusted hygiene specialists such as Lysol Pro Solutions, that can offer comprehensive solutions and programs across business verticals and for any size of business.
  2. Equip cleaning staff with an understanding of the high-touch areas within a facility so that added attention is given to surfaces that harbor the most germs.
  3. Empower patrons and employees with products so that they can play a role in disinfection. This not only augments ongoing routine cleaning efforts but also elevates the overall levels of hygiene of the facility. 

Written by Dr. Lisa Ackerley.
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Dr. Lisa Ackerley
Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner, RSPH Professorial Fellow, and Winston Churchill Fellow Dr. Lisa Ackerley has a background in local and central government, academia, and private sector strategic consulting and has offered support and advice on hygiene to industry stakeholders, the government, and directly to consumers through mass media engagement.

Lisa is passionate about developing practical, easy-to-follow messaging to help promote public health. Lisa’s Ph.D. from the University of Birmingham explored public perceptions of food safety and how to change behavior, and this has been an essential part of her career which has included working with Reckitt over many years on several hygiene projects. Previously Lisa ran her consultancy company Hygiene Audit Systems for 28 years till its sale in 2015 and then established the Public Health Company with the Hygiene Doctor brand. Dr. Lisa Ackerley is also a Trustee and Vice Chair of the charity the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene (IFH), which provides scientific advice on home and everyday life, and Trustee of the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH).


Dr. Lisa Ackerley is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with her through LinkedIn.