May 18, 2017
The number of sick days taken by office workers could be reduced if companies implemented a better cleaning routine and staff improved their personal hygiene, finds a new academic study. The workplace is ranked as one of the unhealthiest places you’re likely to inhabit on a daily basis, says Dr Lisa Ackerley, hygiene expert and visiting professor at the University of Salford, whose study revealed that the main cause of germs at the desk and keyboard is poor personal hygiene, with nearly 50 percent of office workers responding to her survey admitting they do not wash their hands after going to the toilet. Your hands and the surfaces you touch, including your office chair are germ motorways, she warns. Crumbs and spills encourage the growth of bacteria that can lead to stomach bugs, coughs, flu and even food poisoning. Bacteria and viruses that people bring back from the toilet multiply on the hard work surfaces of the desk and chair and remain infectious for 24 hours.
There’s a staggering 21,000 germs per square inch on chairs, desks and keyboards. In fact, the average office desk harbours 10 million bacteria. That’s 100 times more germs than a kitchen table and 400 times more than the average toilet seat. Common bacteria found in the office include:
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa – Commonly found in man-made environments like the office and causes illnesses for those with weakened immune systems.
- Staphylococcus aureus – Found in the office where there is contact with skin on items such as keyboards, chairs and door handles.
- Actinomycetales – Found in water and can be transferred from one surface to another.
- Norovirus – This is a virus commonly found in the office that is transferred by food and water.
Given that many people drink, snack or eat lunch at our desks, Dr Ackerley argues isn’t it time we took desk cleanliness more seriously? Yet only 20 percent of office staff clean their workspace before eating. Furthermore, chairs and fabrics are often overlooked in typical cleaning routines.
A stricter cleaning and hygiene policy that includes all work surfaces including chair plastics, metal and fabrics could help reduce unnecessary illnesses in the workplace, and improve a business’ bottom line with less sick days being taken.
Maintaining a clean working environment is not only better from a visual perspective, it is better for the health of your employees too. Below is simple cleaning routine that every business should implement as a minimum.
Gareth Jones, Commercial Manager at Kit Out My Office, a provider of office furniture online, advises: “Keeping your workplace clean and tidy has many benefits, from simply looking visually impressive and professional to your customers through to the health benefits it can offer. We encourage all of our customers to clean their equipment by providing helpful guides on how and when to clean your new office furniture”.