Whether in the winter months or in the height of summer, there’s nothing more nerve-wracking than watching everyone around you fall victim to an office bug. As your colleagues start to drop like flies, you’ll no doubt feel like your workplace is a breeding ground for germs. But, as new research has revealed, office germs don’t just show up when there’s an illness.
Prepare to be grossed out as The Independent reveals just how dirty your office really is…
Our offices are what microbiologists call a built environment and it is believed that the microflora (think bacteria, viruses, fungi and any other microbe that is detected) is far less varied in the built environment than in the outside world.
But what areas in the workplace are the biggest breeding ground for germs?
Senior lecturer at the school of Science and Technology at Nottingham Trent University, Michael Loughlin, noted that the average office desk is believed to contain 400 times more germs than a toilet seat!
But there is a discrepancy between the hygiene of desks among co-workers. According to research by the University of Arizona, men have three to four times the amount of bacteria in, on or around their desks, phones, computers, keyboards, drawers and personal items when compared to their female colleagues.
It is probably not surprising that phones are such a focal point. Not only do we carry our mobiles practically everywhere we go, we also hold them extremely close to vulnerable entry points, such as our mouth and ears.
Research varies on just how bad our mobile phones are when it comes to hoarding bacteria. The University of Arizona found that mobiles carry 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats, while a German university suggests touchscreen phones have lower levels of bacteria – typically skin and nasal but also some gastrointestinal species.
Whether you use your landline, your mobile, or both at work, it’s definitely worth giving them a regular clean – especially if you share the phone with other people.
Cups and mugs
We all need a daily caffeine hit to help us through the day, but have you given much thought to the mugs you drink from? Public Health England guidance states that reusable coffee mugs must be properly cleaned in order to prevent bacterial growth. While this might seem obvious, a study found that up to 90% of mugs in office kitchens are coated in germs, and a stomach-inducing 20% of those carry faecal matter.
Unless you all start heading to work in hazmat suits, there’s no way to eliminate the spread of germs in the office. But you might want to consider bringing in your own mug!
While we might not be able to help improve the hygiene of individual employees, we can help you design an office that boosts the physical and mental health of your staff. Want to find out more? Give Kerr a call today.