Germs thrive in our offices due to our shared spaces and poor cleaning techniques. Commit to positively changing your work environment by taking Mindful health steps to avoid office germ illnesses.
Ninety-eight percent of workers are affected by minor illness each year and many of them come in contact with these germs at work. At the office, we’re not always thorough with our cleaning practices. And this can be dangerous since we touch 30 different objects per minute at work.
To better understand office germs, Kimberly-Clark Professionals started the Health Workplace Project. They collected 5,000 samples from offices with over 3,000 employees to test for high levels of contamination. While most people expected the bathrooms to have the most germs, it turned out that office kitchens and break rooms were the dirtiest places (especially during the holiday season, with all the parties and gatherings).
The highest levels of office contamination can be found on:
- Seventy-five percent of break room sink faucet handles.
- Forty-eight percent of microwave door handles.
- Twenty-seven percent of keyboards.
- Twenty-six percent of refrigerator handles.
- Twenty-three percent of water fountain buttons.
- Twenty-one percent of vending machine buttons.
Other Germ Hotspots
- Personal areas. Personal spaces are not as dirty as communal ones, but they can use some improvement. People are not as vigilant about sanitation when in their own personal space, especially if they eat at their desk. Computer mice and desk phones have an enormous amount of germs. In fact, desks have 400 times more germs than toilet seats.
- Communal areas. Communal areas and objects that spread germs include carpeting, coffeepots, conference tables, copy machines, door frames, door handles, elevator buttons, stair railings, and reception/lobby areas.
- Random items. During holidays communal candy dishes can be found around the office and unwrapped candies can be germ hotbeds. Books house bacteria and mold. And when we share writing utensils we spread germs.
Tips for Avoiding Office Germs and Office Germ Illnesses
To avoid office germs, consider the Mindful tips listed below.
- Wash and dry. After washing your hands dry them with a paper towel. It reduces germs by 77 percent.
- Disinfect. Use a disposable, disinfectant wipe to clean the previously mentioned germ hotspots.
- Sanitize. Keep hand sanitizer with you.
- Don’t touch your face. Bacteria spreads through the areas on our face (like our nose, eyes, and mouth) and studies show that we touch our face 16 times an hour. So avoid touching your face with dirty hands.