If you work in an office you should know that the average American’s desk has 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Studies have revealed that nationwide, bacteria runs rampant in the areas workers spend the most time at, and that, is their desks. During an eight hour work day an employee may only leave their desk for a total of thirty minutes or even less. With flu season nearing, it is wise to adopt some habits that will keep your desk area cleaner. Here are a few ways to help keep bacteria and viruses away from your workspace.
Break for lunch
Many workers eat their lunches at their desks, which only helps spread germs to desk surfaces, the computer mouse and phones, not to mention it leaves crumbs and sticky surfaces behind. Instead of chowing down at your desk, go outside or to a break room to eat. If you have a lot of work to do you can scarf down your food in fifteen minutes and then return to your desk to work through the rest of your lunch hour (although I recommend taking your full hour for sanity’s sake.)
Convene at the water cooler
People who have offices or workspaces that are frequented by many colleagues tend to have higher numbers of bacteria present. So if you need to catch-up on the latest office gossip or discuss work with a coworker, encourage the meeting to take place outside your space. Break rooms, meeting rooms or even a stairwell can be used. If the weather is good take a walk around your building so you get exercise and take care of business at the same time.
Ditch the communal candy dish
If you’re the office sugar supplier and keep a bowl or dish of candies on your desk for one and all to partake of, you may wish to rethink this nice gesture. Candy dishes are crawling with bacteria. Think about how many coworkers dip their hands into the dish each day and then put the candy into their mouths; it’s not a pretty picture. Do the whole office a favor and if you really want to share candy, drop an individually wrapped chocolate on each person’s desk periodically.
Wipe it down
The best way to eliminate germs is with a bacterial wipe. Keep a roll of them at your desk and wipe down all the surfaces (desk, chair arms, keyboard, computer mouse, phone, etc.) once a week. If you’re not good at remembering to do it, make it an appointment on your computer’s calendar so you get a reminder each week to scrub it clean.
It’s also good to keep an antibacterial lotion or gel at your desk. Rub some into your hands before you eat (and yes this includes snacking), if you cough or sneeze into your hands, and after shaking hands with coworkers.
It’s not hard to keep your workspace germ-free it just requires a little dedication and changing of old habits. Once you get into a new routine, however, you will find it’s not so bad. You may also find you get sick less often, and that’s definitely worth adopting these healthier habits.