We have officially reached the time of year where the workplace seems to drastically thin out as illness spreads through departments. It seems unavoidable, particularly for those with young children, who tend to bring germs and sickness home from school with them… Except, what if we told you that home life might not be to blame for your staff getting sick, that actually, the source of the germs is right there in the office?
There have been numerous studies about workplace germs, with experts comparing the bacteria between locations to identify which parts of your job are exposing you to the most nasties. Here’s a clue – the toilet seats are much, much cleaner than your desk. We spoke to the professionals at Cleaning Industrial Solutions about the grubbiest areas they deal with when cleaning commercial offices. You might be wondering what exactly is in your office that could be so dirty, especially just in hallways and foyers. Well, there’s plenty. Here are the worst…
1. Watercooler Buttons
Most office water dispensers operate with some sort of button or toggle, which is used by almost everyone that sits near it. Likewise, the spout gets exposed to used cups and water bottles which have been in people’s mouths. Now, you tell us how often you clean it… if ever.
2. Vending Machines
Your vending machine is probably stocked by the owners, but is it cleaned by them? Unlikely. Especially given the thousands of bacteria that can be found on the buttons of most communal machines. Think about it – just like coolers, they’re being touched by various sets of hands, every single day.
That’s right, just a simple bit of stationery can harbour hundreds of bacteria. Known for hitchhiking between desks, pens and pen lids can be handled by any number of hands and mouths over their lifetime, making it well worth cleaning – or binning – them every so often.
4. The Fridge
Perhaps the least-surprising contender on this list. Home to abandoned yoghurts, questionable take-away boxes and thousands of bacteria, office fridges really need to be cleaned out several times a week. Don’t forget the outside – fridge handles are one of the grubbiest places in the break room.
The average office microwave is used 30 times a day, and is exposed to all kinds of germs. The combination of meat and vegetables particles that splash around the inside are rarely cleaned off the same day, and the warmth and moisture produced while cooking makes it a haven for germs to multiply.
You read that correctly – the sink area is commonly overlooked in most workplaces, and taps are most likely to be touched by grubby hands. It’s obvious, really.
Maybe the user has sneezed over it, or not washed their hands properly after using the bathroom. Perhaps someone ate their lunch over it last week, and now the crumbs underneath the keys are a breeding ground for germs. Even if it’s simply a case of a typist using a grubby door handle before whipping out a memo, every square inch of keyboard harbours thousands of bacteria.
8. Computer Mice
Just like keyboards, computer mice are exposed to germs from all over the place and are rarely wiped clean. Yuck.
9. Desk Phones
Whether it’s a handset in the sales team that’s been pressed against mouths all day, or the phone in your creative department that’s sitting under a thin layer of dust, chances are you don’t know when you last cleaned it.
Why It’s So Important To Keep Your Office Clean
An unhygienic office is part of a vicious cycle, where germs breed on communal surfaces and make employees sick. Ill staff then come in to work and spread more germs around the office, which in turn aren’t properly cleaned up and infect more staff.
The result? A workplace where your entire team is either off sick, sniffling away at their desks or wearing makeshift bio-hazard outfits in a bid to keep working. Productivity is down, morale is terrible and your ability to meet targets and satisfy customers hangs in the balance.
With so many people routinely congregating in the same spaces, it’s inevitable that various germs from different households will make it into your office. While you might not be able to stop nasties from getting in the building, there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of bacteria in communal areas.
How To Make Your Office More Hygienic
Firstly, encourage staff to form healthier habits, like opening windows, emptying bins and keeping food away from their desks. Also make sure that your employees are properly equipped with hand sanitiser, disinfectant wipes and surface cleaner, and educate them about germ hotspots around their workstation so they can self-manage a certain level of hygiene.
Secondly, you should seriously consider hiring a professional cleaning team to at least take care of the communal areas of your business. Aside from dusting and hoovering, arrange for them to do a thorough clean of the kitchen every week, and regular cleans of the spots that usually get overlooked.