No matter where they are, they pose a big risk to the health and safety of your staff, customers, and clients. Workplaces are full of shared surfaces that are touched by dozens of people with varying hygiene and handwashing habits. Although most offices have cleaning crews who perform light tidying and cleaning such as vacuuming and taking out the trash, surfaces and equipment aren’t disinfected which allows office germs to multiply.
Couple this with the fact that some bacteria can survive for weeks unless they are killed with an EPA registered disinfectant, and office germs can infect your entire workforce in no time. With this information, it’s no wonder the workplace ranks as one of the top places where people get sick.
HOW OFFICE GERMS GET IN THE WORKPLACE
Believe it or not, bacteria don’t sneak into your workplace. They are often brought into the environment from the outside. Here are the most common ways office germs enter your facility:
- Contaminated Objects: Employees and clients can bring germs into your office via personal items. This includes gym bags, keys, water bottles, lunch bags, and purses. Microorganisms that live on the bottoms of shoes are also a way that germs can trek into your office.
- Contaminated Food: If an employee brings in food or a food container contaminated with E. Coli or salmonella, they risk spreading those germs to the rest of your staff. If the food comes into direct contact with any surface (think the microwave, kitchen counter, etc.) those harmful germs are now everywhere – and multiplying by the minute.
- Sick Employees or Clients: With over 55% of employees admitting to coming to work ill during a study, chances are someone is coming into your office while contagious. As they sneeze, cough, and touch surfaces, they’ll be spreading bacteria and germs all throughout your office.
SURFACES CRAWLING WITH THE MOST OFFICE GERMS
Just because you can’t see office germs doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Keep bacteria from running amuck and sickening others by rigorously cleaning and disinfecting the most common places germs live. So where do germs like to live in your workplace? Read below to find out!
Office desks tend to be employees’ home away from home. They spend around 40 hours each week at their desks or workstations completing tasks and projects. However, although they may be productive, they could be at risk for infection. It’s been reported that the average desk is covered in around 10 million bacteria. Even more alarming, desks contain 400 times more germs than a toilet seat.
Did you know that the average computer mouse harbors at least 1,676 germs per square inch at minimum? Computer mice are often contaminated by germy hands. If someone sneezes, coughs, or even eats with their hands then touch the mouse without removing bacteria by washing their hands or using hand sanitizer, those germs are then transferred to the mouse – where they will proliferate. Though people may disinfect their desks or keyboards, the computer mouse is often forgotten.
Employees probably aren’t thinking about office germs when they are using their keyboards to send emails, generate reports, or complete other tasks, but they should. E. Coli and Staph are known to lurk on computer keyboards. One study done by Arizona University found that office keyboards host a whopping 3,295 microbes per square inch.
Hands are the first line of defense and vulnerability when it comes to office germs. In fact, around 95% of people fail to wash their hands properly. Common illnesses that spread by hand include the common cold, influenza, chickenpox and meningitis. If you think about how many employees you have and consider the things they do and touch with their hands, it becomes obvious why hand hygiene matters.
Microwave and Fridge Door Handles
Refrigerators hold roughly 7,850 bacteria colony-forming units per square centimeter. In addition to this, a microbiologist found that 48% of microwave door handles contained harmful bacteria during an inspection. Both handles are items frequently contaminated by office germs via filthy hands. Germs find their way on microwave and fridge door handles when people fail to wash their hands with antibacterial soap before or after eating.
Shoes journey to many places. They travel to bathrooms, parks, grocery stores, gyms, sidewalks, and other areas, all the while collecting microscopic bacteria and germs. After adventuring near and far, they then saunter right into your office – with germs hitching a ride via your employees. Bacteria can crawl from floors to walls, light switches, handles, and other surfaces unless killed.
Phones and Headsets
Even as most of us use email, instant messenger, and texting for communication in the office, the office phone and headset are still one of the primary offenders when it comes to office germs. These often overlooked pieces of equipment don’t get cleaned often even though they come into direct contact with both our face and hands. They host an average of over 20,000 germs per square inch, making them the most germ-laden items in an office.
KILLING OFFICE GERMS
Combating office germs requires strategy, consistency, and providing the right products and protocol for your employees. In addition to paying a janitorial or cleaning service to do cleaning and tidying throughout the week, prevent the spread of office germs by investing in easy to use products that people can use to keep surfaces clean, quickly and easily.
Encourage and promote good hygiene habits like hand washing, regularly disinfecting desks, covering mouths during sneezes and coughs, and support employees to take time off of work when they are sick. Invest in non-toxic disinfecting wipes and a stand or dispenser to make sanitizing and disinfecting easy for employees and team members.
A healthy and safe office starts with you as the leader or manager and trickles down to your employees and clients. Set the standard for healthy practices and cleanliness to combat the spread of office germs to keep everyone healthy, safe, and productive.