Find out where the germ hotspots are in your office and discover the single most important thing that you can do to reduce your risk of infection. Then take our quiz to see how much you know about the germs that are sharing your office.
Germs are everywhere, and most of the time they don’t harm us. But the more germs there are, the higher the chance that we may get an illness. This is why effective cleaning regimes are so important. You will never live in an entirely sterile environment, nor should you aim to, but, as the hospital superbug and winter vomiting bug outbreaks show us, there is value to minimising our risks.
As we have seen in our previous blog post, the office is one of the most germ-populated spaces you spend time in. Whether you share an office or work alone, you are coming into contact with millions of microbes.
Germ hotspots in your office
- Your desk –your phone receiver, your keyboard, the desk surface – all harbour germs. Those sandwich crumbs, that person who sneezed next to you, your own hands – all contribute to, according to many studies, upward of 20,000 germs per square inch. That’s 400 times more than the average toilet seat!
- Door handles – these are touched all day, every day by many people. That includes the inside handles of toilet doors. Think about that for a moment…
- The photocopier – Give that start button a spray and a wipe as often as you remember. It’s a tiny spot but everyone touches it with millions of microbes on their hands each day.
- The water cooler – without regular cleaning, water coolers are a haven for germs. Contaminated bottles may touch the water outlet, and many people, after a comfort break, head straight to the water cooler, so the tap (or spigot) needs to be cleaned regularly too.
- The kitchen area – you don’t need us to tell you of the importance of good kitchen procedures. It’s here that food poisoning starts, with nasties such as salmonella and E. coli.
- The washroom – there is a high potential for germs here. But as we have noted, toilet seats are likely to be cleaner than your desk. Their design makes them hostile to microbes, with no place for them to harbour and multiply.
- Your mobile phone – on the plus side, they’re your germs. On the downside – they don’t discriminate. With approximately 25,000 germs per square inch on your mobile phone, a wipe down every day with a single use microfibre cloth is a good idea.
- The arms of office chairs – when you lean back in your chair, hands on the armrests, you are placing those hands on a pile of potential illnesses. Clean your chair whenever you clean your desk.
The single most effective solution to germs in the office
The solution to the problem of germs in the work place and the illness and absenteeism caused by them is in your hands – literally. Not just your hands, but the hands of everyone in the office. 80% of germs are spread because people do not wash their hands effectively after going to the toilet. It’s not nice to think about, but it is a fact of life. Studies show that 95% of people do not wash their hands effectively after going to the toilet.
So, what can you do to improve the hygiene habits of the people in your office. Most people are not wilfully infecting the office, they simply don’t realise what they must do to remove the germs from their hands.
How to wash your hands effectively
This simple video from Deb holds the key. You will note it is less than one minute from start to finish. You should scrub your hands with soap for at least 15 seconds to remove germs. The Royal Pharmaceutical society recommends 20 seconds, which is the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice. Don’t save the handwashing until your birthday though!