Covid 19: How to prepare your home work space?

As the cases of Covid-19 grow, companies are asking their employees to work from home when possible. Today, this is a viable option for many jobs, especially those in the backroom like accounting and even many go-to-market jobs like inside sales and marketing.

The CDC provides guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting households. It’s important to know the difference between the two, here’s how the CDC differentiates them:

Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, counter-tops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label.

No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended at this time.

Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped down by employees before each use.

Clean & Disinfect Your Household

The CDC provides general guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting your household. These guidelines can be found here. Although these are great general guidelines, you’ll need to take particular care with your work space and phones. When working at home computers and phones are any employee’s lifeline to their business. The CDC guidelines aren’t specific on how to deal with these electronic devices that are more sensitive to chemicals and fluids.

Clean & Disinfect Computers & Phones

We’re assuming at this point you’ve followed the CDC guidelines and have generally cleaned and disinfected your home, including your work surfaces. Now it’s time to move on to your laptop. Start by using a microfiber cloth to clean the dust off all surfaced. Turn the laptop upside down and give it a shake (be gentle as you don’t want to dislodge any of the internal connections).

With the computer upside down use compressed air on the keyboard and ports. You want it upside down so the gunk can fall out. Keep in mind wherever you are doing this will need to be cleaned again when done.

With the keyboard you might want to use a cleaning brush to get out stuff between the keys.  The ports are on the sides and back where you plug-in external devices. Don’t use the brush on the ports, as you can damage them.

That’s it for the cleaning process, now it’s time to move on to disinfecting the device. When most people think of disinfecting, they turn to products like Lysol, Clorox, Pine-Sol or other disinfectant wipes. These are generally too harsh to use on your computer. Here are a couple of best practices to begin:

  • Make sure your computer is unplugged.
  • Remove the battery if it is easily accessible.
  • Use 70% isopropyl alcohol at a 1:1 ratio with distilled water as a cleaning solution (WOOSH).
  • Use a microfiber cloth for cleaning.
  • Never spray anything liquid onto your computer; spray it onto the cleaning cloth.

Dampen the microfiber cloth before using it on your device. Don’t get it too wet, as you don’t want liquid creeping into the computer’s internals. Use circular motions to clean all surface areas.  Start with the outside and work your way towards the screen and keyboard.

You’ll want to take particular care with the screen and keyboard. The keyboard and touchpad will have finger oil on them. Again, use the same fluid and a circular motion to clean. The circular motion is the best way to remove finger oil. Also, clean extra well where your palms touch the computer.

You can use the same solution on the screen but use a separate cloth and use a lighter touch. Use a dry microfiber cloth to remove any excess cleaning fluid. Start with the screen and then work your way over the rest of the device.  That’s it you’re done with the computer!

You can use the same process and cleaning solution on your phone. You only need compressed air for the external ports. Most mobile phones today have touchpads so you shouldn’t need a cleaning brush. You might want to take this opportunity to remove and replace screen protectors and old phone cases as they hold germs and can be replaced cheaply with new ones from Amazon.

Keeping Work Surfaces, Phones & Computers Clean

If you want to keep your work surfaced, phones and computers clean – you need to keep your hands clean. If you’re preparing or eating food, treating cuts and wounds, interacting with children or animals (yes, dogs and cats), or going to the bathroom you need to clean your hands. Here how to best clean your hands:

  1. Start with water and get your hands wet, then turn off the faucet (no need to waste water).
  2. Soap up – use an anti-bacterial soap and lather your hands really good. Get it into all the nooks and crevasses. Take your time, the CDC recommends around 20 seconds.
  3. Rinse your hands under running water and get all that lather off.
  4. Dry with a clean paper towel.

If you sneeze or cough into your hands, you’ll need to clean them. If you do this at your computer, you’ll need to clean your computer again.  The best way to avoid Covid-19 is to keep your hands clean.

Now let’s get to work!