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Is Your Office a Bacteria Haven?

If the COVID-19 pandemic has done anything, it’s made people far more aware of general hygiene and how important it is for reducing the spread of infection. We are now more mindful of things like uncovered food, and we’re all experts on sanitizing our hands every time we touch a communal door handle or light switch, but what about the office?

Many people like to think their office desk is clean. It looks clean, doesn’t it? Well, it might look pristine and you might feel safe touching someone else’s desk, but you might think twice when you read these shocking facts on office bacteria!

1. Toilet seats are cleaner than desks

Yes, you read that right. It’s thought that the average person’s desk is up to 400 times more dirty than a toilet seat. When you consider what a toilet is used for compared to a desk, you might say it ain’t so, but sadly, it is. Take into account that people cough, sneeze, laugh, eat and pretty much live at their desks for the vast majority of the time. They’re there far more than the toilet, so just because no one is explicitly taking a number two on the desk doesn’t mean that it’s any cleaner than the toilet. If anything, office toilets are more clean because people are conscious of using communal bathrooms, and that means more rigorous cleaning compared to desks. If you haven’t wiped your desk down with antibacterial spray already, you certainly will after reading this article!

2. Your mug could be making you sick

You might think it’s an unnecessary hassle to make the effort to bring in your own mug when your office provides you with a mug, but let us reassure you, it’s worth the effort. Studies conducted by the University of Arizona found that 90% of office mugs accommodate bacteria that can make a person sick, and if that wasn’t bad enough, up to 20% of office mugs have fecal matter on them. No matter how you like your coffee, we’re pretty sure a side serving of poo and the flu isn’t it.

3. Preparing your lunch on the bin is better than preparing it on the kitchen counter

You know that poo that’s swimming around in your coffee? Well, it’s also in your sandwiches – at least it is if you prepare your lunch on the kitchen counters in the office because they tend to be covered in coliforms. What this tells us is that a frightening number of people don’t wash their hands after going to the toilet, or maybe they do, but because some people don’t put the toilet seat down when they flush the toilet, once they’ve washed their hands and touch the tap to turn it off, toilet bacteria is back on their hands, thus rendering the hand washing incomplete. Long story short, prepare your lunch at home unless you want gastrointestinal problems.

How to improve office hygiene

Let’s be honest, it might be a bit too much to ask to trust your colleagues to be sanitary, but you can definitely try. Here are some things you could do to improve the cleanliness of your office:

  • Provide employees with antibacterial wipes to wipe down their desks and keyboards every evening before they leave
  • Put a sign in the bathroom asking employees to put the toilet seat down before they flush the toilet
  • Provide adequate ventilation to keep the air as clean and circulating as possible
  • Regularly clean the floor by mopping hard surfaces and vacuuming carpet tiles
  • Provide hand sanitizer and tissues to every employee to catch their coughs/sneezes and sanitize their hands afterwards
  • Hire a cleaning company to keep on top of general office cleanliness

These tips should keep your office tidier, but remember, the best thing you can do for everyone to have good personal hygiene, lead by example and stay home if you’re sick!