Cleanliness is next to productiveness!

Posted on: July 1st 2017    •    Posted in: PC Cleaning

We’ve all worked with someone whose workspace resembles the filthiest of student digs. Dirty coffee cups, plates and crusty soup bowls vie for space with used tissues, unread trade magazines and stacks of documents waiting to be looked at.

Thankfully the office cleaners usually sort out the worst of the mess at the end of each day. Cups and plates are removed before there’s any chance of mould growing and they might flick a duster around. But is it enough? And, when you look closely, are the workspaces of smug clear-desk-policy-abiding colleagues really clean either?

Scientific research would suggest not. Several studies have found that office workstations are teeming with germs and bacteria that are invisible to the naked eye. It’s not just visibly dirty desks that are affected. On average, a computer keyboard harbours more bacteria than a toilet seat. Women’s desks were found to be significantly more germy than men’s. And teachers and accountants were found to have more bacteria on their desks than any other professionals.

The bottom line is that even people with clean desks in shiny, modern offices may actually be working in unsanitary conditions. And it’s not just desks, but the technologies used on a daily basis that can harbour illness-inducing bacteria.

A study by Which? found that touchscreen tablets and phones can harbour all sorts of dangerous bugs. Swabs were taken from 30 tablets and 30 phones, then sent for analysis. Eight of the tablets were contaminated with high-risk levels of enterobacteria, which can cause intestinal infection. Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause severe food poisoning, was found at high levels on three of the tablets and smartphones. In one case a tablet had a count of 600 units of staphylococcus aureus per swab. By comparison, a toilet seat that was tested had a count of less than 20.

Bad habits are to blame for much of the surface contamination. Poor hand hygiene, snacking while working and rushed toilet breaks all contribute to the risk. And the contamination is thought to facilitate the spread of illnesses such as colds, flu and gastroenteritis that result in millions of sick days in the UK every year. So, what can be done to break the cycle?

It’s nearly 250 years since John Wesley said that ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’. An equivalent mantra for today’s office environment could be ‘Cleanliness is next to productiveness’.

Creating an office culture that encourages good hygiene is an important step. Washing hands after visiting the bathroom and before eating should be second nature, but it doesn’t do any harm to put up signs reminding people. Providing hand sanitisers and specially-designed disinfectant wipes for keyboards and electronic devices is also good practice. Backing this up with regular professional cleaning of workspaces and technologies completes the circle.


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