You might have heard that the desk you work at can be home to more germs than the average toilet seat, and while this seems unbelievable, unfortunately, it’s true. In fact, the rather shocking statistic is this; office desks can be 400 times dirtier than a toilet seat.
While your keyboard might look relatively clean, it is anything but free of germs with it being the most touched part of your desk. Keyboards are actually home to 70 percent more bacteria than an average toilet seat. It’s not just your computer either: a staggering 25,000 germs per square inch can be found on office phones, and with handsets being used every day by multiple people, those germs can spread quite quickly.
One reason that keyboards, in particular, can be so dirty is because most office workers eat at their desks; this results in crumbs and bits of food falling onto the keyboard and in between the cracks of the keyboard, encouraging the growth of bacteria. It isn’t just computers and desks that can be incredibly unhygienic in the workplace; other areas of the office need to be considered too. For instance, communal water coolers can be a hotbed of germs, with illness being easily transmitted via water cooler buttons in particular.
Another one to be aware of are the tap handles in communal bathrooms, of which 75 percent are considered a serious risk for spreading germs. On average, 10,000 bacteria can be found on any surface where hands regularly rest. Office ID cards have been found to have 243 times more bacteria than a pet chew toy.
How to Make Your Workspace More Hygienic
Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to reduce the number of germs in your office space. An easy first step is to eat your food away from your desk. Taking a break from the office for lunch will also give your eyes a rest from your screen and getting fresh air will help your concentration in the afternoon.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to make sure you’re washing your hands with soap and water at regular intervals, especially after using the toilet. This can reduce contamination of germs by 10 percent. Though it’s a simple action to take, so many people fail to wash their hands with soap after going to the bathroom. In fact, 32 percent of office workers admit to not washing their hands at all after visiting the restroom. You should also disinfect your hands after using an office kitchen or after using somebody else’s computer, especially if you know that the owner of the computer has been sick.
Cleaning your office sounds simple but in reality only three percent of offices clean equipment and surroundings to an acceptable standard. Good office hygiene can be easier to overlook than you might think. Sanitising the most used items in the office can also help, especially if done on a regular basis. This can include desk surfaces, keyboards, mobile phones, office phones and anything else that gets touched daily. With a wide range of sanitising products available — from hand sanitiser to sanitising wipes — this task can be accomplished quickly and easily.
While handshaking is a common business practice, avoiding shaking someone’s hand wherever possible can help prevent the spread of germs. Also, avoid using other people’s equipment in general, and if feasible, postpone any meetings you have scheduled with individuals who’ve recently been sick.
Looking after your own health is incredibly important. Even though today’s diet culture is thriving, skipping meals can affect your immune system in a negative way, making you more likely to get sick. On that note, if you’re feeling unwell, it is important that you stay home instead of going into the office, no matter how much work you may have to complete. This is vital for the hygiene levels in your office and for the health of your co-workers. Remember that one person who has a virus can infect 50 percent of nearby equipment and employees within just four hours.
If you’re still feeling under the weather, it’s vital that you go and visit your doctor. Stay on top of your regular check-ups and pay attention to your health. Cleaning your workstation regularly will help to reduce the number of germs thriving in the office environment.
This is a content partnership between MyDoc and Lifestyle Collective to provide high-quality health content to our readers. MyDoc is a digital health brand that makes access to quality health easier and faster. This series is focused on educating people on general health topics. The information shared has been reviewed by third-party medical professionals.