Seventy-two per cent of people are concerned about germs left on surfaces shared by colleagues.
And they should be.
Especially when 80% of communicable diseases are transferred by touch.
Some items in the office, like your desk, are up to three times dirtier than a toilet seat.
A study found the top 10 bacteria hotspots in the office by swabbing each surface and determining the relative light unit (RLU) of each. The higher the RLU reading, the dirtier the item and anything more than 50 is a fail.
If you’re currently reading this while eating at your desk, this may put you off your food.
Are you ready to see the results?
Here is how each of them scored
1. Office Door Handle
2. Office Sink
3. Microwave Door
4. Mobile Phone
6. Toilet Tap
7. Office Chair
8. Kitchen Fridge
9. Desk Phone
It’s no surprise that high-touch points are a hive for bacteria. With so many people touching door handles (after touching goodness knows what), it’s the number one germiest item in the office with 30 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. How much bacteria did a toilet seat have? Just 21, passing the bacteria test, unlike most items in your office.
The office sink, like your kitchen sink at home (see our dirtiest places in the home blog), can be an issue of contempt in any office. There’s always someone who throws food down it or leaves their dirty dishes in the sink.
The kitchen was the dirtiest room in the office, with four of the ten dirtiest items, being in the kitchen including the microwave (or microwavveee as Nigella Lawson likes to call it).
Your desk is almost three times dirtier than a toilet seat and your keyboard can have as many germs as a kitchen bin.
All sorts of food crumbs can make their way in between the keys and it’s almost impossible to get them out again.
Still feel like a bite to eat?
Covid at Work
Around 93,000 workers who caught Covid believe they got it at work.
Hygiene at work is more important than ever during this pandemic.
Workers should still be encouraged to wear masks in communal areas and sanitise their hands regularly.
There should be social distancing where possible and creating a culture of cleanliness at work should reduce the spread of infections, colds, and virsus such as Covid.
Effects of a Dirty Workplace
A dirty workplace means lower productivity and higher costs for businesses, plus employees can be less satisfied at work and can become sick causing them to possibly lose pay.
An unclean office can have higher carbon dioxide levels.
In office buildings with a higher carbon dioxide level, there was decreased performance.
An unclean workplace can also lead to infections which are responsible for a large percentage of sickness absence.
Sickness absence can mean the lose of an average 30.4 days of productivity.
When there is a greater number of people in an office, it significantly increases sickness absence. Open plan offices had 62% more sickness days than smaller offices.
Businesses could lose £77 billion a year due to employees coming to work when they are sick which decreases their productivity.
Even if businesses aren’t having to pay sick pay, they could still lose money due to decreased productivity if staff have mental or physical stress.
Workplace clutter increases workers stress level and this causes workers to delay decisions and have messier desks, creating a vicious circle. The act of cleaning improves your mood, as it provides an adrenaline rush, so both the act of cleaning and a clean environment helps employees.
How to encourage a clean culture
You can reduce viruses on surfaces by more than 85 per cent by improving cleaning and basic hygiene at work.
There are many ways to encourage a healthy workplace where every employee contributes to creating a safe space.
Create a Cleaning Culture
Make cleaning a priority in your workplace by communicating to staff how important it is.
One way of doing this is by having tidy days.
Once a month have a ‘tidy Friday’ (or any other day of the week), where everyone has to get rid of anything unnecessary from their desk, dispose of any documents, clean their workstation, remove anything gross from fridges, and generally clean and tidy.
By dedicating a time to this, everyone is doing this together and taking pride in their workplace.
One in four office workers don’t wash their hands after using the toilet. It’s no wonder there are many items around the office that have more bacteria than a toilet seat.
Faecal bacteria (yes, poo), can be present on 26% of hands leading to cross-contamination.
The office should always have paper towels in place to dry hands which are superior to electric air dryers.
There should always be soap as washing your hands with soap reduces the presence of bacteria to 8%. Without soap it only reduces to 23%.
Using signs in the workplace to encourage hand washing can encourage a higher percentage of compliance.
Many consumers, especially since Covid, want to see signs of cleaning in businesses, with 45% agreeing that visibility of cleaning in progress would encourage them to return to stores, and 55% want venues to continue to have hygiene measures displayed.
By displaying hygiene signs in your premises, it can help to show customers and staff that you are committed to providing a clean and safe space.
Access to Sanitiser
Do you remember when the shops ran out of sanitiser at the start of the pandemic?
Sanitisers are essential for continuing to have healthy spaces.
They should be placed at entrances and exits and near any high touch areas to encourage people to use them.
It also shows you are highly aware of the health of everyone who enters your premises.
It not only increases the trust staff and customers have for the business, but it can help to reduce illness and costs.
Essential Office Cleaning Products
Cleaning products are cheap compared to the cost of sickness in your workplace.
Workers and cleaners should have access to cleaning products at all times to encourage a clean environment.
It is better for your health and the environment to use sustainable cleaning products. Look for products that have recyclable packaging, that are biodegradable, or have the FSC logo.
Cleaning products can cause air pollution if they contain harsh chemicals and can smell terrible. By using eco-friendly cleaning products, you can reduce indoor air pollution, use less cleaning products which costs less, and have a fresh smell instead.
Your essentials should be:
- Antibacterial wipes
The Quick and Easy Way to Clean Your Office
Before you go and get a hazmat suit to go into work in after reading about all these germs, there are easier solutions.
These are the best ways to clean the bacteria hotspots in your office.
Office Door Handle
Wipe down with an antibacterial wipe. Use wipes that are 100% biodegradable, so you can protect you and the planet.
While you’re cleaning the door handles, clean lift buttons and any other high-touch points around the office.
Sprinkle some bicarbonate of soda around the sink and give it a scrub before washing down. If you scrub it down with a kitchen sponge, make sure it is new or a clean one (hint: kitchen sponges are the dirtiest item in your home).
You can use a lemon cut in half to rub around the microwave or the door to cut through any grease.
Then wipe down with an antibacterial wipe.
Wipe down with an antibacterial wipe. Make sure it’s not too damp or you might damage your
Fill your kettle with vinegar and water, then boil. Empty the contents then fill with water and boil several times to get the remaining residue and vinegar smell out of the kettle. Be sure to let everyone else in the office know what you’re doing, or they could pour themselves a nice cup of vinegar water and you might end up with an HR complaint.
There is one thing in the bathroom that is actually dirty and it’s the toilet tap. Either clean with an antibacterial wipe or put some white vinegar in a sandwich bag and tie it to the tap and leave overnight.
All the crusty nasty stuff will be gone, and the bacteria too.
It’s says a lot about this generation that a lot of back pain is caused by sitting on our bums
all day. So, it’s no surprise our chairs get dirty from crumbs, skin, and hair.
Clean the plastic or metal areas with (you guessed it) an antibacterial wipe and vacuum the material part.
Do not even talk about office fridges. There are some things in there that are growing their own civilisation and of course, no one takes credit for being the creator of this new life.
Get everything out of the fridge and throw out expired items. The shelves are more than likely removable, so, take them out and give them a wash with soap and water, before cleaning the inside of the fridge with a disinfectant spray.
Your phone should be cleaned around once a week with an antibacterial wipe, making sure it's not too damp or you could ruin the electrics.
Gently tip your keyboard to get any access dirt out of it. A can of air with a nozzle can be used to get in between and under the keys at all the crumbs and dust.
Then use an antibacterial wipe to clean the surface which should be done about once a week.
If you share a desk, it should be done every time you are handing your desk over to someone, and when you sit down at it again.
Do you Need a Professional Cleaner?
A cleaner may seem like another expense but it is an investment. Having a clean workplace may mean higher productivity, morale, less illnesses, and less time off work resulting in a more profitable business.
If your management cites budget constraints for making staff do their own cleaning but it’s not working, use these arguments to convince them otherwise. It also helps with wear and tear on expensive items.
Cleaning companies usually charge a fixed rate per hour and can create a tailored plan of what needs to be cleaned, when, how, and who is responsible.
Choose a cleaning service that has staff who are trained in COSHH and health and safety.
Print our Office Cleaning Poster
Before you run screaming from your office, print our infographic on the top 10 dirtiest places in the office and display it in your workplace.
Maybe email this blog around the office too to give people a hint that everyone needs to be responsible for cleaning and protecting each other.
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