Now more than ever, cleanliness and hygiene in the workplace is imperative. However, while you may wipe down your desk, empty your bin and wash your mug, have you ever considered the invisible threats that are lurking around the office? There are a whole host of hidden hotspots for germs in the workplace, which are left unconsidered yet create a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses and more. Some may surprise you more than others!
Understanding & Preventing Germs In The Workplace
Although there will inevitably be some germs in the workplace, understanding how to mitigate any risks and prevent them from spreading is vitally important. With COVID-19 continuing to play a significant role in our lives, we have suddenly been made aware of how quickly bacteria, germs and viruses can transfer from one individual to another. Disinfecting and sanitising has become second nature, but it is vital not to forget these habits once we reach the end of the pandemic. There will still be hundreds of surfaces that have the potential to pass on germs and the following are just a handful of the worst culprits:
- Lift Buttons
- Door Handles
- Desk Surfaces
- Chair Arms
- Office Equipment
- Drinks Stations
- Kitchen Sponges
- Mugs, Cutlery & Dinnerware
- Microwave Doors
- Vending Machines
When discussing the most common hot spots for germs, there are many surfaces that come to mind, but one that is rarely considered is lift buttons. However, did you know that these buttons can harbour more germs than toilet surfaces? And by more, we mean up to 22% more! This is a shocking statistic, but shouldn’t cause worry as there are many ways that you can protect yourself. It is more than likely that outside the lift doors in your workplace there is now a sanitising station – always use this to your advantage, be sure to wash your hands before eating and avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth.
When the phone rings, the first reaction for anyone closest is to grab it, without a second thought about how dirty your hands may be. You could be halfway through eating your lunch or have just arrived at work after commuting on public transport, which means that unless you always sanitise before touching the phone, you will be passing on germs. Not only this, but medical research has also shown that germs can be spread through droplets formed through breathing. This means that you may also be leaving a layer of germs from speaking directly into the phone, especially if you are sick.
With this in mind, we recommend encouraging staff to get into the routine of cleaning down the phone after they have used it. This means that any bacteria from their hands or even their breath can be removed before anyone else comes into contact.
Until recently, no one would ever consider sanitising their hands before opening or closing a public door, yet door handles are by far one of the most touched surfaces in any commercial building. And although most door handles are made from a non-porous material meaning that viruses are eventually destroyed, it can be up to 24 hours before reaching this stage. This means that along with sanitising, at the end of each day, door handles should always be wiped down with disinfectant.
A home for growing bacteria that we are all more than aware of is keyboards, but can you safely say that you spend the time regularly cleaning your keyword? Only you use it, so surely it doesn’t matter as much, right? Wrong. The plastic used to make keyboards create the perfect home for microbes, helping them to thrive. And although not all microbes are harmful to you, now more than ever, we must ensure that any potential for illness is eradicated from the surfaces we frequently come into contact with.
To clean your keyboard, start by shaking any debris away and then we recommend using a slightly damp lint-free cloth to wipe the surface. You can then use alcohol wipes to disinfect your keyboard.
Harbouring germs on your keyboard brings us onto desk surfaces. Studies have shown that the spot on your desk that you usually rest your hands has ten million bacteria on average. While this may seem a considerable amount, think about how many times you touch several surfaces around the office then return to your desk or how often you eat at your workstation – the bacteria can quickly build up and with this, so does the spread of viruses.
Along with ensuring that each staff member disinfects their desk before heading home for the day, professional cleaning will also be essential. Through enlisting reputable office cleaning in Milton Keynes with Facilities Company, not only can you ensure that desks are free from bacteria but also all other surfaces around the workplace. Please feel free to get in touch with our team to begin piecing together your tailored contract.
Think about how many times a day you touch the arms of your chair – it is impossible to give a precise answer. But these chairs are where we spend almost eight hours a day, five days a week, yet are never considered when it comes to cleaning. Instead of only cleaning when there is a spillage, for example, try to get into the routine of wiping down the chair arms and any other areas you regularly touch with your hands. For a more thorough clean, Btod.com has put together a super helpful article on how to clean every type of office chair material.
Printers, scanners and photocopiers all fall under the office equipment category and continue to be used by several different staff members each day. The problem with these is that it is impossible to stop many different people using the equipment each day, which means that the only solution is to ensure that those who do use the devices have clean hands. Much like you would have done across other areas of the office, be sure to place a hand sanitiser next to each piece of office equipment, which will remind staff to sanitise before touching the surface.
Much like office equipment, remotes are used by different team members each day, whether this may be to control the air conditioning, heating or screens in conference rooms. Along with asking all staff to sanitise before using remotes, it is also a good idea to ensure that they are cleaned with a disinfectant wipe each day. The same goes for any other shared items in your meeting and conference rooms, in particular, even if they are only currently being used by a few individuals at once.
By far, one of the most regularly used spots in any workplace is drinks stations, whether this may be watercoolers, coffee machines or the kettle. From staff to clients and visitors, regardless of where your drinks stations are located, you can be sure they are touched frequently and not necessarily by clean hands. This significantly increases the transfer of germs, particularly if individuals were to grab a drink then sit down to have their lunch, without washing their hands before eating.
Along with being mindful about touching surfaces that are used by many, it is also important to keep in mind the bacteria that can build up inside these drinks machines. For instance, inside coffee machines, the growth of bacteria is multiplied as the damp, dark environment creates the perfect breeding ground. To avoid bacteria build-up, it is highly recommended to include kitchen equipment cleaning into your maintenance package. For more information on our tailored commercial maintenance in Milton Keynes, please feel free to contact our team!
Germs thrive the most in porous materials, especially when they are damp, making kitchen sponges the perfect home for nurturing bacteria. In fact, a study carried out in Germany found that there can be up to 362 different types of bacteria on just one sponge. Unlike the other hotspots in our list, this bacteria isn’t necessarily caused by humans but instead the debris, dirt and juices that the sponges are used to clean.
Although there are ways of cleaning kitchen sponges, no method is completely effective, which means that the best route is to stock up on supplies and replace the sponge at least every week. If it has become noticeably dirty any quicker then again, your best bet is just to start fresh!
By now, we can be almost certain that shared mugs, cutlery and dinnerware in the workplace are no longer permitted to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, we would strongly recommend sticking to this concept after the pandemic as it will remain an effective way to reduce the spread of germs. Why? Well, this statistic is likely to make you feel slightly uneasy, but research has proven that as many as 90% of the mugs found in office kitchens are filled with germs. As much as 20% of these have actually been shown to carry faecal bacteria – we needn’t say any more on this one!
When it comes to the spread of germs, one aspect of the workplace that is rarely considered is the carpet – as long as it looks clean, no one tends to give it a second thought. However, carpets are a known germ harbour and due to the fibres, trap dirt and dust from the atmosphere. This can quickly begin to build up, eventually impacting your air quality.
Although regularly hoovering the carpet in your workplace is important in managing dirt accumulation, this cannot remove all germs, which means that professional carpet cleaning is vital. With this in mind, our team offers expert carpet cleaning in Milton Keynes as a standalone service or as part of your maintenance package. This will not only help you to manage germs but also prevent mould, pollen build-up and much more, improving the overall cleanliness of your workplace.
Working in an office means that each lunchtime, you have a queue of people waiting to use the microwave, each of these staff members opening and closing the door several times. This makes the microwave door one of the dirtiest surfaces in the workplace, yet is rarely cleaned unless there is a spillage inside. Much like our other recommendations, the most effective way to reduce bacteria is to ensure that the door is sanitised using a disinfectant wipes frequently throughout the day. For a more thorough clean, take a look at the handy guide over on Ideal Home.
For the days that you have forgotten to prepare your microwave food, you may consider just popping to the vending machine for a few snacks. Well, you guessed it, these have just as much bacteria build-up, if not more, than the microwave. This is because vending machines tend to only be placed in areas of the building with high traffic, often to accommodate visitors so not only are they being touched by your colleagues, but also strangers passing by.
Keep Your Workplace Clean, Healthy & Germ-Free!
The pandemic has most definitely made us more aware of how quickly germs can spread. Hopefully, with our new disinfecting and sanitising habits imprinted in our minds, the cleanliness of workplaces will better than ever. As a result, it is likely that you will see sickness amongst employees dramatically reduce, and there will no longer be the winter cold making its rounds!
If you are interested in maximising the cleanliness of your workplace through professional services, then the team at Facilities Company are just a phone call away. Our packages are devised bespoke to you, incorporating as many of our services as you require, whether this may be commercial maintenance, office cleaning or window cleaning in Milton Keynes. Your safety is our priority, and we will always strive to provide the highest standard of services.