We spend an average of 8 hours a day at work and with this being a major part of our lives, it is important we maintain good hygiene within our offices to avoid catching any nasty viruses. When we fall ill, not only does it take the toll on our bodies, but is also a huge inconvenience as it can cause us to fall behind on our workload and make our lives more stressful.
Recent data from The ONS revealed there has been a staggering increase of over 12 million sick days since 2011 for preventable illness, such as colds and flu. This costs businesses millions each year but could be dramatically reduced if high-standards are maintained in regards to cleanliness in the workplace.
GCC Facilities management, providers of professional commercial and office cleaning, recently conducted a survey to discover which common office items are left neglected when it comes to cleaning. They want to highlight the importance of office hygiene for employees and employers, you can see their full range of commercial cleaning services here.
The study showed that a shocking 31% of keyboards, 28% of telephones and 36% of computer mice have never been cleaned. Considering how often these are touched, it is no wonder that when one person falls ill in the office, it quickly spreads to the whole team.
Below is a list of the 7 dirtiest office items. After reading this, you may reconsider your office cleaning routine.
1. The Water Cooler
While so many of us avoid shared kitchen items, such as mugs and plates, and bring our own items from home, this may be completely redundant if the liquid we drink is full of bacteria.
Did you know that those communal glasses and mugs aren’t the filthiest thing in your office kitchen but it is actually your water cooler? More precisely, the water spigot (where the water comes out) can contain 2.7 million germs per square inch.
This is due to the lack of cleanliness as very few of us think about cleaning this. Perhaps next time you go to get yourself a drink, you’ll think twice and use the tap instead.
2. The Fridge
The office fridge has always been a place of fear for decades but unfortunately, they are essential for properly storing our food to ensure you don’t get ill from eating it.
Dubious leftover containers and gone-off yoghurts are a staple of any shared office fridge and leave many of us recoiling at the thought of entering and rightly so, the average office fridge contains 7,850 germs per square centimetre.
It is recommended that office fridges are cleared out at the end of every working day and wiped down with an antibacterial product every two days. Following this, it should have a deep-cleanse every month.
However, many of us will agree to this cleaning routine but very few will take on the responsibility. Hiring professional cleaners can make a huge difference.
3. The Microwave
On average, your office microwave is used 30 times a day and you have no control over what goes in it. Meat and dairy products can leave particles lingering for days in there and germs love a warm place to multiply.
Have you ever seen your microwave being cleaned? Other staff may quickly wipe up any spillages but this doesn’t mean bacteria has been removed.
Studies show just the microwave door handle alone contains 47% more bacteria than other office surfaces.
4. Your Desk
We spend most of our time at our desks so it can be easy to become blind to dirt building up. The average office desk has 10 million germs on it, that’s 400 times more than the average toilet seat!
Even if you are not feeling unwell, those who are could have been in contact with your desk, or even placed items they have been in contact with on there. Cold and flu viruses can live on hard surfaces for months.
The study by GCC Facilities Management revealed 11% of us never clean our desk, meaning 11% of desks are just waiting to make us ill.
5. Computer Mouse
As previously mentioned, 36% of us never clean our computer mice. We touch these hundreds of times a day and sweat, dust and food particles love living on them.
There are over 1,600 bacteria per square inch living on our computer mice and very few of us wash our hands after contact. By wiping these down just once a day can dramatically reduce our chances of getting sick at work.
Just like our computer mice, we touch our keyboards hundreds of times a day but with even more cracks and crevices for nasty bugs to hide in, they are a breeding ground for bacteria.
The average keyboard has almost three times more bacteria than a public toilet seat. You wouldn’t touch a public toilet seat with your bare hands, so why are you doing the same with your keyboard?
A light wipe-down with an antibacterial wipe once a day can really make a difference to your keyboard.
They are positioned so close to our mouths, so why are 28% of us never cleaning our office phones?
Shared office phones are used by numerous people each day and mouthpieces can be festering with filth. Even those who are regimented to hand washing are exposing themself to bacteria with this common office item.
To avoid spreading illness, implement personal desk phones and you can reduce the chance of your team falling sick.
Next time someone in your office appears to be ill or you are showing symptoms of a cold or flu virus, allocate some time to have everything properly wiped down and sterilised.
Hiring professional cleaners can make this a lot easier as employees are often too busy to do this themselves. If you are unable to hire professionals, make sure your office is stocked with the right cleaning supplies so it encourages people to maintain cleanliness at their work stations.