You may think your office is clean and neat, especially if your files are in order and you’re good at clearing out the clutter. But, even if your workspace appears pristine, there could be unseen germs lurking. Steering clear of transmittable germs can be particularly difficult in close-quartered working environments, where illnesses easily spread from one worker to another.
Combatting these germs starts with an understanding of where they are most commonly found. Keeping the following surfaces clean and germ-free is the first step toward minimizing your risk of infection:
Regardless of whether you use a landline or personal cell phone to conduct business, phones are a breeding ground for a number of infectious bacteria. In fact, studies show that office phones have the potential to carry up to 25,000 germs per square inch. Keep a stash of antibacterial wipes on hand to disinfect handsets and keypads during the day to reduce the risk of passing these germs on to others.
Given the fast pace of today’s workplace culture, many people eat meals while toiling away at their desks. This practice may do wonders for productivity, but it also increases the proliferation of bacteria. Unless cleaned diligently and frequently, keyboards tend to be a haven for food particles, which in turn produce germs that are easily transferred from one surface to another. The regular use of sanitizing wipes and air dusters can help keep your keyboard free of bacteria-carrying debris. Frequently conducting a deep clean on your keys can also help ensure that germs don’t accumulate over time.
For those working in large office complexes, taking an elevator may be part of your daily routine. According to a study published in Open Medicine, elevator buttons have more bacteria than surfaces in public restrooms. Avoid picking up the virus du jour by using an elbow or knuckle to select your floor, if possible. As an added precaution, be sure to wash your hands to kill any lingering germs after you’ve reached your destination.
Break room surfaces
It’s no surprise that break rooms contain an excess of harmful bacteria — employees use these spaces for everything from food preparation and clean-up to group gatherings. Research shows that break room sink faucets, refrigerator handles, and microwave doors are among the most germ-ridden surfaces in any given office. Fight the spread of bacteria by establishing a shared calendar for the disinfection of your company’s break room, employing the help of co-workers to ensure each surface is properly and routinely cleaned.
Regardless of where germs originate, making healthy habits like washing your hands a priority is key to staying healthy. Be sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer upon arriving at your desk, especially if you take mass transit to work. Use disinfectant wipes to rid your desk — including surfaces like your phone and computer keyboard — of germs that could potentially cause contagious illnesses. Keep hand sanitizer in the office break room, as well, to ensure all employees understand the importance of healthy hand hygiene.
These proactive practices will help instill health-conscious behaviors among your team, reducing the risk of bacteria-borne illness in the workplace.
This article was originally published on The Philly Voice, and was sponsored by Independence Blue Cross.