How Dirty Is Your Office?
By Stephen Hooley
February 5 2020 - It's that time of year again when the office colds and flu spread like wildfire and employees begin to
quickly fall ill with whatever nasty bug is going around. Working in such proximity to others often leads to us getting sick but did you know this
Proper hygiene and sanitation in the workplace can protect you and your staff from getting sick at work, which in turn can lead to
precious man-hours not being lost. GCC Facilities Management recently conducted a survey to find out how often common office items are cleaned, you
can see a wide range of their commercial cleaning services
Shockingly, 31% of keyboards, 28% of telephones and 36% of computer mice are never cleaned. Considering we have constant contact with
these items, it is no wonder germs are passed quickly around the office.
Data from The ONS shows an increase of over 12 million sick days have been taken since 2011. This is costing businesses extortionate
amounts, not to mention the inconvenience to staff themselves having to alter plans due to sickness.
We are all aware of the importance of keeping items clean, but do you know exactly what areas of your workspace harbour germs more
than others? Below is a list of 7 of the dirtiest items that you may not have realised are making you ill, despite your best efforts.
1. The Water Cooler
Many of us avoid shared office items, such as mugs, plates and cutlery and we can't blame you. You never know who touched them last or
if they were even washed properly, so if you are a germaphobe, it's no wonder these aren't touched by you.
At the same time, we are all encouraged to drink more water, rarely do we drink enough so many employers may install water coolers to
make this more appealing and keep your body and mind healthy.
But, even if you are careful and bring your own drinkware from home, you can still be at risk. On average, a watercooler's spigot
(where the water is dispensed from) contains 2.7 million germs per square inch.
Perhaps next time you refill your water bottle you may think twice and choose tap water instead.
2. The Fridge
If we were all being honest, we would all admit there is a slight fear of the communal office fridge. Questionable leftover takeaway
and yoghurts that seem to have been there since the 90s are almost a tradition in the office fridge.
Unfortunately, they are also an essential appliance for our food and that essential milk for tea and coffee and we all need to use
them. What is more unfortunate is no one seems to believe the responsibility for keeping this clean is theirs and this means the average office
fridge contains 7,850 germs per square centimetre.
Therefore, it is recommended the fridge is cleared out and wiped down every other day, a rare sight which most of us probably have
3. The Microwave
On average, a shared office microwave is used up to 30 times a day and no one can monitor exactly what is heated up in it. Meat and
dairy particles can be left in your microwave, even when you don't see them.
Germs also love a warm place; it helps them multiply and microwave handles are the perfect spot for cold and flu germs to thrive.
These door handles have 48% higher bacteria count than any other office surface.
So, next time you use this appliance, you may want to give it a good clean inside and out before placing items you consume in it.
4. Your Desk
It's where we spend most of our weekday but could also be making us ill. The average desk has 10 million germs, 400 times more than
the office toilet seat!
Even if you aren't feeling unwell, items that have passed through the hands of those who are could be placed on your desk for hands
and other items to come into contact with and as 11% of us never clean them, these bacteria can survive for months.
If you think you've escaped the latest office cold, you may find yourself catching it weeks later due to not cleaning your desk.
5. Computer Mouse
We touch our computer mouse hundreds of times a day, yet 36% of them are never cleaned. Food particles, dust and sweat love living on
our computer mice and so does bacteria.
Each square inch of your computer mouse can contain 1,676 bacteria and considering it is unlikely anyone washes their hands after
each point of contact, germs can quickly be spread.
By wiping your mouse down just once a day with antibacterial cleaning products can make a big difference and dramatically reduce your
chances of getting sick.
Just like your computer mouse, your keyboard is touched hundreds of times a day but with so many cracks and crevices, germs can hide
A shocking fact, your keyboard has almost three times the bacteria than the average public toilet seat.
You are unlikely to touch a public toilet seat with your bare hands, so why are you touching your keyboard? Wipe these down daily and
wash your hands before and after eating to prevent bacteria spreading.
You may have your own telephone on your desk, or your office may share one, either way they are festering with filth.
It isn't just holding these items that can put us at risk from bacteria but also our mouths. Mouths are placed close to the receiver
and germs can easily linger after a conversation. Even those who are regimented with hand washing aren't protected against the mouthpiece.
As 28% of phones are never cleaned, who knows what nasty things we could be breathing in on our next conference call.
Next time you or your colleagues are showing symptoms of a sick bug, really take the time to scrub these items down. We know employees
are busy and may not have the time to do so, investing in professional cleaning staff can make a world of difference and help to prevent the workforce
from dropping like flies.