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New survey shows employees will hold companies to a new hygiene standard as they return to the office

07/12/2021

Increased scrutiny of office hygiene is here to stay, as employees expect COVID-19 era additions, like hand sanitizer stations, hands-free restroom fixtures and higher-capacity paper towel dispensers, to become permanent fixtures

Essity, a leading global hygiene and health company and maker of the leading global professional hygiene brand, Tork®, today announced the results of its “Return to Workplace” survey. This research was conducted to better 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 remotely during the pandemic. 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 specifically offers businesses a look into what people expect at work and how sustainable hygiene management can strengthen business performance by keeping employees safe.
 
While “COVID-19 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% 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. 
  • 65% of employed Americans who went into an office prior to COVID-19 express concern about the cleanliness and hygiene of the space before going back to the office. 
  • Employed Americans who worked in an office prior to COVID-19, have heightened expectations of their employers when it comes to hygiene protocols in the office, and would like to see employers and facility managers:
  1.     Provide resources such as hand sanitization stations (58%), 
  2.     More frequent cleaning and sanitizing (58%), 
  3.     Hands-free restroom fixtures (48%) and 
  4.     Higher capacity paper towel dispensers in common areas and in bathrooms (35%). 
“Employees who are returning to the office are expecting their employers to abide by a new hygiene standard, which includes providing more hand hygiene materials and more frequent cleaning of common areas,” said Rachel Olsavicky, Regional Marketing Manager, Commercial & Public Interest, Essity Professional Hygiene at Tork. “These survey results show the demand for a consistently safe and healthy office environment, and employers need to be prepared to meet employee expectations. Tork is here to support business leaders with a wide array of products and resources, including hand sanitizing stations, no-touch dispensers and data-driven cleaning systems to increase overall office hygiene.”
 
The “Return to Workplace” survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Essity, from May 5-7, 2021 among 700 men and women 18 years of age and older who worked in an office setting prior to the pandemic. Key findings include the following: 
 
Office workers have a significant concern about office hygiene and cleanliness.
  • Nearly two-thirds (65%) 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% 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.
The attitude toward extra hygiene is here to stay.
  • More than half (58%) of employed Americans who went into an office prior to COVID-19 would like to see increased cleaning and sanitizing measures implemented at their office as a result of COVID-19.
  • 84% of Americans are likely to continue the enhanced hygiene protocols they adopted due to the pandemic, even as more Americans become vaccinated against COVID-19, such as more frequent hand washing, using hand sanitizer and washing hands for a longer period of time.
  • The overwhelming majority of American adults still believe increased cleaning and sanitizing are important in public places, such as doctors’ offices/healthcare facilities (90%), restaurants (89%), hotels (88%), theaters (88%), fitness centers (87%), retail stores (86%), and entertainment facilities (stadiums/museums) (86%). 
It’s more than just having a place to wash your hands. The majority of employed Americans who went into an office prior to COVID-19 (89%) would like to see cleaning/hygiene measures implemented at their office as a result of COVID-19: 
  • Hand sanitizer stations (58%)
  • Increased cleaning and sanitizing (58%)
  • Hands-free restroom fixtures (48%)
  • Increased communication and signage on safety and cleanliness protocols (44%)
  • Higher capacity paper towel dispensers in common areas and in bathrooms (35%) 
Old habits can be changed as those who have already returned to the office are noticing some new coworker behaviors:
  • Using hand sanitizer more often (57%)
  • Washing hands more often (53%)
  • Shaking hands less (51%)
  • Sanitizing hands after coughing or sneezing (41%)
  • Washing hands after coughing or sneezing (37%)
  • Washing or sanitizing hands after touching public surfaces (36%)
  • Washing hands for a longer duration (35%)
  • Wearing gloves to touch public surfaces (34%)
  • Drying hands with a towel/paper towel vs. air drying (31%)
  • Using objects to touch public surfaces (e.g., on elevators, to open doors, utilize keypads) (30%)
 
For more information on how to address employees’ expectations for a new hygiene standard, visit: https://www.torkusa.com/your-business/solutions/overview/office/office-hygiene.
 
Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Essity from May 5 - 7, 2021 among 2,064 adults ages 18 and older (700 employed Americans who went into an office prior to COVID-19). 
 
For more information please contact:
Lizzie Kölln
Weber Shandwick
ekolln@webershandwick.com
 
About Tork
The Tork brand offers professional hygiene products and services to customers worldwide ranging from restaurants and healthcare facilities to offices, schools and industries. Our products include dispensers, paper towels, toilet tissue, soap, napkins, wipers, but also software solutions for data-driven cleaning. Through expertise in hygiene, functional design and sustainability, Tork has become a market leader that supports customers to think ahead so they’re always ready for business. Tork is a global brand of Essity, and a committed partner to customers in over 110 countries. To keep up with the latest Tork news and innovations, please visit www.torkusa.com.
 
About Essity
Essity is a leading global hygiene and health company. We are dedicated to improving well-being through our products and services. Sales are conducted in approximately 150 countries under the leading global brands TENA and Tork, and other strong brands, such as JOBST, Leukoplast, Libero, Libresse, Lotus, Nosotras, Saba, Tempo, Vinda and Zewa. Essity has about 46,000 employees. Net sales in 2019 amounted to approximately SEK 129bn (EUR 12.2bn). The company’s headquarters is located in Stockholm, Sweden, and Essity is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm. Essity breaks barriers to well-being and contributes to a healthy, sustainable and circular society. More information at www.essity.com.

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