desk clean

How clean is your desk?

Posted on: May 10th 2017    •    Posted in: PC Cleaning

If Kim and Aggie from the noughties TV show How Clean Is Your House? were to swab your desk for bacterial samples, you might be horrified at the results. Especially if you’re a woman. Research shows that the typical desktop is about 100 times germier than the average kitchen table. And women’s workspaces tend to harbour more bacteria than men’s. Experts say this is down to having lotions, tissues and snacks hanging around.

So, where might nasties be lurking in your workplace, and how can you eradicate them?

Germ hotspots

Germs abound in the average office, and often in places you wouldn’t expect. Cleaners thoroughly scrub toilet facilities on a daily basis, but generally don’t like to touch people’s workspaces for fear of messing up papers or breaking personal items. Here are some of the prime locations for germs and bacteria:

  • Telephones – can harbour more than 25,000 germs according to scientists.
  • Computer keyboards – may have more than 200 times as many bacteria as a toilet seat. Shared computers are especially hazardous.
  • Buttons in the lift / on security keypads – can be used by hundreds of people per day. Some of them are bound to have an infectious illness, and who knows what their hand hygiene is like.

Prevention is the best medicine

The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that up to 80 percent of all infections are spread by hand contact with contaminated surfaces and direct human contact. So, all those germ hotspots could be partly responsible for the 45 million work days lost in the UK last year due to minor illnesses such as colds.

Taking control of the cleanliness of your own workspace can reduce your risk of picking up more than you bargained for from your colleagues. Daily use of a disinfecting wipe to remove dirt, dust and biological contaminants from your keyboard and phone is a good first step. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to wipe down that tube of hand cream! A US study found that when office workers were told to clean their desks in this way, bacterial levels were reduced by 99 percent. Do check with your IT team first though as wet materials can interfere with the functionality of keyboards.

It may not be considered socially acceptable to take it upon yourself to disinfect the buttons on the security keypad or in the lift. But you could make a habit of washing your hands when you get to the office, or carry a bottle of hand sanitiser in your pocket to use discretely as required.

Final thoughts

Be careful about communal treats. It’s nice to share, but do you really want all those (potentially dirty) hands in your goodies?

Think twice about using the watercooler. Apparently, they are guilty of spreading office germs as well as gossip. It’s something to do with the trajectory of the water and pre-used cups and bottles. Anyway, bring your own water from home if you want to reduce your exposure to the latest bug doing the rounds.

Remember, if something has a handle or a button, it probably harbours bacteria. That covers doors, photocopiers, coffee machines, kettles and microwaves as well as flush handles – I’m sure you can think of more. Wash your hands. Often. And especially before you eat.

Lastly, speak to your employer about steps that could be taken to boost cleanliness in the workplace. Providing hand sanitiser dispensers and disinfectant wipes throughout the office can encourage good habits. Coupled with regular deep-cleans of office equipment, this could significantly improve staff wellbeing and reduce the number of workdays lost to sickness every year.

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