(Adds details from company)
By Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen
COPENHAGEN, May 6 (Reuters) - Returning to work after the coronavirus lockdown, you could find ‘hygiene stewards’ on hand to ask after your health, tell you how to disinfect your mobile phone, or set up one-way traffic on the staircase.
Denmark’s ISS, one of the world’s biggest private employers, said on Wednesday it was seeing higher demand for disinfection and deep cleaning, as well as advice on how to maintain social distancing in the workplace.
While airport, hotel and catering services were hard hit by the lockdown, new business opportunities are arising as large clients prepare to let people return to work.
“We are training ‘hygiene stewards’ around the world who will clean and disinfect workplaces during the day and advise people on how to act,” CEO Jeff Gravenhorst told Reuters in an interview. “Feeling safe is a big part of returning to work.”
In addition to the normal cleaning routine in the evening or overnight, such stewards will be present during working hours and help encourage workers to follow guidelines on hygiene and social distancing.
Britain’s Rentokil Initial said last month it had trained some 7,000 of its staff to perform disinfection and deep cleaning services, as it was preparing for new business in markets where restrictions were being eased.
“All our large customers are now contemplating how to return to work,” Gravenhorst said. “We are the last to shut down sites and the first to reopen them when people begin to return to their workplaces.”
ISS staff will offer advice on how to limit the risk of spreading the virus, including how to act in the reception or canteen or how to disinfect mobile phones.
Wearing uniforms and protective gear, the hygiene stewards will also measure the temperature of every person entering the building and ask questions about their well-being and whereabouts to make sure sick people don’t turn up to work.
While China and other parts of Asia had reopened, people had also started to return to work in Denmark, Austria, Belgium and to a lesser extend in Spain and Italy. Other markets like Mexico, Indonesia and Singapore had seen the opposite trend.
“We are still in the eye of the storm,” Gravenhorst said.
The Copenhagen-based company, which also competes with companies such as Sodexo and G4S, delivers services such as cleaning and catering to more than 200,000 clients in 63 countries.
Gravenhorst said that as a result of the lockdown, ISS had temporarily or permanently laid off just under a quarter of its 471,000 workforce, but that most would return to work once business picks up.
ISS posted first-quarter revenue of 19.1 billion Danish crowns ($2.8 billion) on Wednesday, above the 18.2 billion forecast by analysts. ($1 = 6.8883 Danish crowns) (Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen Editing by Keith Weir)