Hand sanitizer became a common feature at facilities long before 2020, but recent years have seen it become a routine fixture in our lives. Since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, we’ve had first-hand experience of how useful sanitizer can be for maintaining personal hygiene. Yet some facilities may be seeing a decline in engagement with their sanitizer stations.
It’s understandable why the public might feel exhausted by the messaging around hygiene after living through a global pandemic, but the role of hand sanitizer in maintaining a healthy community has not diminished. If facilities want to showcase care for their employees and visitors and help equip them with easy, functional hygiene tools, they may want to consider rewriting the narrative around hand sanitizer by implementing a positive workplace program.
Making the Case for Hand Sanitizer in Facilities
From occupant requests to time constraints, facilities teams are under tremendous pressure to keep venues and buildings running optimally. These often stressful environments make it very easy for teams to rely on old habits and take the easier route if it means being able to finish a task or project and move on. Facilities teams also tend to be creatures of habit. “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” is a strong mentality in facilities management. For these reasons, facilities teams are often hesitant to install new hand sanitizing systems or replace their antiquated models.
But with the rapid spread of the flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), combined with the continued presence of COVID-19, facilities teams need to be mindful of the public health risks and risks to their workforce. Hand-washing with soap and water is considered the gold standard in personal hygiene, but it’s not always an option when people are out and about or staff bathrooms are not readily accessible. In these situations, hand sanitizer can provide an effective alternative to a full scrub, one that is quick, tough on germs, and even enjoyable, when done right.
Unfortunately, facilities teams are often under the impression that installing a new system or replacing an outdated one is a tremendous amount of additional work. But like any evolving product or technology, many of today’s systems are easy to install. Sanitizing hands can also provide an opportunity for a facility to engage with users and promote a broader culture of care. When a company invests in sanitizing stations for its staff and visitors, it demonstrates that it values people’s health and wellness. This investment can also communicate important education around personal hygiene and connect teams in the larger mission of improving community well-being.
When combined with an impassioned communication campaign or brand partnership, physical sanitizer stations can be used to share company values or impart information as users engage. From a brand-values standpoint, the right sanitizer partner can also make it possible to embed sustainability efforts into daily actions. Rather than encouraging employees to carry their own sanitizers—which may come in disposable plastic containers—companies can invest in refillable sanitizer stations with the same germ control but in plastic- and carbon-neutral formats. By making it easier for customers and employees to make the sustainable choice, facilities can meet their ESG initiatives—showing their commitment to the environment and helping bring their community into that mission.
How to Implement a Hand Sanitizer Program
The first step in implementing a hand sanitizer program is to ensure that the facility is adequately stocked with accessible stations, so that visitors and employees will always find sanitizer on-hand. This is not just for convenience; roughly 91% of consumers believe that it makes a difference to have free hand sanitizer readily available at venues. By delivering on this, a facility can demonstrate that it takes into account every part of the visitor journey.
The next move should be to transform the user experience from an afterthought into a meaningful moment. Stations can be designed to represent the facility both aesthetically and through messaging; in addition to brand colors and logos, perhaps there is a corresponding communications campaign to celebrate on each station that entertains and educates users around personal hygiene. This is also a valuable opportunity to incorporate partner advertising or promote an important initiative, increasing visibility of the work you’re already doing. This can cultivate customer relationships and help them feel connected with your facility’s larger mission.
The most impactful hand sanitizer programs will be the ones that recognize they can provide an important health service and an enriched educational experience, in a simple squirt of sanitizer. With our hand sanitizer station, for example, this messaging is particularly easy to implement as the design features a swappable faceplate for premium customization. For some venues, these stations could even function as a revenue opportunity; advertising is likely to get substantial engagement from visitors in an unobtrusive and natural way, making it a valuable commodity.
A Stadium-Sized Example
Gillette Stadium, home to the NFL’s New England Patriots, is a perfect example of a facility that maximized this opportunity to improve well-being, embody company values—and have some fun with it along the way. Recognizing the importance of access, Gillette expanded its sanitizer program from approximately 40 stations to over 250 stations throughout the stadium complex. This ensured that all visitors can find sanitizer when they need it.
It then created four different slogans to reflect the venue’s personality and values: “Ketchup. Mustard. Clean Hands” is a fun play on key football classics, while “We saw you pass the sinks” adds a cheeky tone to a routine activity. By adding some humor into the messaging, Gillette is able to foster an engaging approach to personal hygiene on the micro level, deepening that customer relationship.
On the macro level, Gillette’s investment in a facilities-based hand sanitizer program also enabled it to meet some impressive sustainability goals: so far, they have been able to divert 15,000 plastic bottles from entering landfills through use of no-spill aluminum refill cartridges. The sanitizer is also plant-based, which ensures Gillette can provide a truly holistic hygiene service.
More Than Just Sanitizer
Just because hand sanitizer has become ubiquitous in 2022 doesn’t mean that facilities are getting the most out of their sanitization programs. Not only can an effective program demonstrate a facility’s commitment to the well-being of its employees and visitors, but it can be a powerful tool for education efforts around personal hygiene and a great way to communicate brand values and personality. For some it will even prove profitable, if stations incorporate advertising, but the ROI will be there regardless: look out for boosted community health, an improved customer experience, and greater sustainability efforts.
Ashley Wayman is the founder and CEO of Shimmy, a company dedicated to making hand sanitizer easy, enjoyable, and eco-friendly. After pivoting to focus on B2B opportunities, Shimmy has recently become the official hand sanitizer of Gillette Stadium and the New England Patriots and is helping companies of all sizes upgrade their sanitizing programs without relying on single-use plastic bottles. She previously worked for Rent the Runway, Rue La La, and Wayfair and is the proud mother of three delightful children who all love Shimmy.