Winter flu season is upon us once again, wreaking havoc on workplace attendance rates across the UK. If there’s one time of year you’re most likely to pick up some kind of bug, it’s right now. Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter and Staphylococcus aureus, norovirus, colds and flu – all lurking in the darkest of corners around most workplace environments.
Such is the prevalence of winter bugs around the office that some simply regard them as inevitable. Rather than attempting to do anything about them, they accept they’ll be hit at some point or another.
In reality, there’s actually a lot you can do to avoid falling victim to winter bugs. One of which being to acknowledge the most prevalent germ hot spots around the office, stepping up your everyday hygiene regime in response.
If you’d prefer to stay fit and healthy right through to the spring, here’s where to focus your attention:
A recent study carried out in the United States found that the average desk is home to more than 25,000 organisms per surface. This means your desk and everyone else’s desk is quite literally alive with germs and bacteria. In fact, office desks have routinely been found to have more organisms than shared toilet seats. Keep a pack of antimicrobial wipes with you at all times and ensure those desks (and other surfaces) remain pristine.
2. The Fridge
With a shared office fridge, looks can be deceiving. Even if it appears to be gleaming white inside and out, it could still be harbouring germs, bacteria and viruses in terrifying volumes. It’s worth remembering that comparatively few people ensure they wash their hands before manhandling the fridge and its contents. For that matter, the same also goes for any cupboards or dry storage areas in the shared office canteen. Along with keeping things clean, you might want to think about keeping your goods separated from those of your colleagues.
3. Keyboard and Mouse
Every square inch on the average office keyboard harbours more than 3,000 micro-organisms. Even on a mouse, you could be looking at 1,600 bacteria per square inch. Not the biggest threat if they’re your own bacteria, but rather terrifying numbers if they’re someone else’s. If you share peripherals of any kind with other workers, you need to ensure they are kept as clean as possible.
4. Shared Mugs
Can you honestly be sure that your colleagues are hygienically washing their shared mugs, cutlery and so on after use? Unless you have a dishwasher at work, even the cleanest-looking mugs could be your ticket to some unwanted time off. Unless you can be absolutely sure they’re hygienically clean, you might want to think about bringing your own.
5. Door Handles
Last but not least, you can’t realistically scrub and sanitise your hands every time you touch a door handle. Nevertheless, it’s worth remembering that around 60% of men and 40% of women admit to not washing their hands after visiting the bathroom. The average office door handle is crawling with the kind of nasties you really don’t want to think about. As such, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of reaching for a bottle of antibacterial hand sanitiser at regular intervals throughout the day.
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