As the winter months draw nearer, we become very aware that people get ill more easily and germs and viruses are everywhere. Although many illnesses are often blamed on the cold and miserable weather, it is also down to hygiene either at home or in the workplace which is something that you can keep under control! The office can be a breeding ground for coughing and sniffling, meaning it is even more important to keep the environment clean and sanitary to battle against germs.

Not being able to see germs means we are not always as vigilant as we should be, and this is something that could become a problem in an office environment where symptoms are easily spread and shared. Having employees who are under the weather could impact the productivity of your business over winter, especially when business can be slightly slower than average already.

Hidden germs

Everything in your office, down to your keyboard and your telephone, is most probably harbouring germs and this is what can spread illness around your colleagues. The average work desk is actually 400 times dirtier than an average toilet seat. Shocked? There are in fact 10 million bacteria that live on your office desk, and while this may sound like a ridiculously high number, it is easy to keep on top of with the right cleaning products.

Approximately 80% of common infections are transmitted by touch, meaning that germs are probably spread every time you touch something in the office. High germ zones include your telephone, keyboard and computer mouse, which makes sense as these are probably the items you touch the most throughout the day.

The average computer keyboard harbours around 7500 bacteria, and 11% of office workers never clean it. 46% of workers only sanitise their keyboard less than once a month. It has been said that viruses such as the flu can survive on such surfaces, and your desk, for up to and sometimes even more than 24 hours.

How germs can affect your business

We touch our nose, mouth or eyes about 16 times per hour, and with most infections spread due to touch. UK workers lose, on average, 9.1 days per year to sickness. Depending on how many staff you have, this could have a big impact on productivity, which is something you can easily try and maintain. On top of this if your staff eat lunch at their desk, which 70% do, they could be encouraging the uncleanliness of your office as bacteria feed on food crumbs.

By Andy Carr, Assistant Operations Manager, System Hygiene