Best practices for back-of-store cleaning
for the safety of customers and employees.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the retail industry has focused heavily on the role of cleaning in making customers feel safe. There is a very good reason for this: if you provide a safe experience, people will continue to shop at your store; if you don’t, they will shop somewhere else.
But, customer-facing areas aren’t the only parts of the store where the business-criticalness of cleaning has increased. The cleanliness of the warehouse, staff break room, and even the loading docks, can have just as much of an impact on a store’s success. This article explores how back-of-store cleaning supports retail businesses in the COVID-19 era.
The increased importance of back-of-store cleaning
Back-of-store cleaning has always been critical for retail:
- A clean work area promotes employee productivity and morale.
- Clean floors prevent slip-and-fall accidents, which are a leading cause of workers’ compensation claims.
- In food retail, cleanliness prevents product cross-contamination and pests.
- Cleanliness is required for regulatory compliance (e.g., with OSHA’s walking-working surfaces standard), and, in some cases, by insurance providers.
However, it has taken on greater importance due to COVID-19. Here are three reasons back-of-store cleanliness should be just as high a priority as front-of-store cleanliness.
Cleanliness helps employees feel safe
Customers use cleanliness to assess safety. Employees do too. In a Deloitte survey on safety and cleanliness, 73% of employees said that observing active cleaning efforts makes them feel more confident. Specifically, employees want to see regular cleaning of all equipment and shared spaces, along with regular reporting of cleaning activities.
Customers are also concerned about employee safety
Another Deloitte survey found that, in food retail, safety is now “essentially tied with price” as the top consumer purchase driver. The key part of this finding is that safety has a very broad definition. It’s “not only safety for the consumer, but safety for the employees of the CPG companies as well retail [companies] and the community at large,” says Barb Renner, Deloitte’s U.S. leader of consumer products in this article.
If the back-of-store isn’t clean, it’s hard to keep the front-of-store clean
Finally, any dirt, grime, or pathogens that are allowed to build up in the back of the store can easily be transferred to the front of the store on employees shoes and the wheels of carts. This makes it even more difficult to keep customer-facing areas spotless.
Best practices for back-of-the-store cleaning and communication
To keep employees safe and operations running smoothly, retailers need to apply the same rigorous cleaning standards to the back of the store as they do to the front.
Clean more frequently, more thoroughly, and more visibly
- Follow CDC guidance for cleaning and disinfecting facilities. Note that the agency recommends frequent cleaning of high-traffic spaces.
- Disinfect high-touch objects, including shared equipment, multiple times a day using an EPA-approved disinfectant.
- Remove dirt, debris, and other tripping hazards with a floor sweeper.
- Clean and disinfect floors with a floor scrubber.
- Clean up spills quickly with a HEPA-filtered wet/dry vacuum cleaner.
- Vacuum carpets and furniture with a HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner. Periodically deep clean soft floors with a carpet extractor.
- Clean break rooms, restrooms, and other shared spaces.
Document and communicate your cleaning processes
- Provide specialized training for staff about cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting procedures.
- Use environmental markings to identify high-frequency touch points and provide signage to communicate how frequently they are cleaned.
- Document the completion of cleaning tasks (e.g., signs in bathrooms showing when they were last cleaned).
- Hold regular employee meetings about cleaning activities.
- Test your surfaces frequently (e.g., using swab tests, to ensure disinfection is performed properly.
- Provide information about your safety protocols for employees to share with their families.
- Have your cleaning processes verified and certified by a trusted third party such as 'Checked by NSFTM' or the Global Risk Advisory Council.
Learn about retail cleaning trends in customer-facing store areas in our 'In-store'-article.