Unexpected Germ Nightmare: The Office

You might think that because your office is professionally cleaned, dusted and swept regularly that it’s one of the cleanest places you could spend your day (that’s more cleaning than happens in my house, for instance, on a weekly basis…).

But, it’s not. It’s really, really gross.

Ragan Communications has posted an infographic from MASTER Cleaners Ltd, which points to just how dirty our desks, phones, and other work surfaces are – and no, I’m not talking about clutter on your desk, or even the pile of shoes under your desk (shoe graveyard, as I’ve affectionately called mine).

Be prepared: You’ll want to have your anti-bacterial wipes ready.

The dirty details:

  • Office phones have about 25,000 germs per square inch.
  • Cold and flu viruses can survive for up to 18 hours on hard surfaces; and bacteria actually increase by up to 31% per day on surfaces that aren’t regularly disinfected. If you’re sick, this just proves that you should stay at home until you are better.
  • Wash your hands – and then use antibacterial gel when you get back to your desk, because 75% of office tap handles are considered a serious risk for illness transmission.
  • I’ve saved this one for last: office desks have been found to be more than 400 times dirtier than a toilet seat. On average, about 10,000 bacteria reside around the area where your hands rest. Most keyboards contain 70% more bacteria than a toilet seat.

Alright, now that you are thoroughly disgusted, here are a few simple ways you can combat office germs as we head straight into cold and flu season:

  • I’ll say it again: Wash your hands. The same lesson that applied as children still applies now (though, as I witnessed a woman leave a library bathroom without washing her hands the other day, some people still don’t get this simple message).
  • Clean your stuff – disinfecting your phone, desk, door handles and other hard surfaces regularly and often will help keep bacteria at bay.
  • Take an actual lunch break and eat somewhere else – if you must eat in the office, absolutely don’t place the food straight onto the solid surfaces of your desk.
  • Do your coworkers a favor and stay home if you’re ill – there’s just no good excuse to come in to work if you’re infectious.

Of course, you can’t live life in a bubble. Germs and sickness are a part of life; but remember that there are a few easy things you can do to keep yourself and others around you healthy. We’re all in it together!