Are the everyday devices in your office making you sick? You may not realise it but the phones, mice and keyboards in your office could be spreading germs around. With studies showing that the average workstation has 400 times as many microbes than a toilet seat it’s worth having a look at just how much of a germ incubator your office is. The common cold virus is stubborn and once it gets a hold on your office it can hang around for weeks, sapping people’s energy and affecting productivity. People with colds are infectious from the moment they develop symptoms and this can last for up to two weeks. So, short of turning up for work in a surgical mask and gloves, how can you avoid passing it backwards and forwards between each other?
80% of infectious dieases are spread by touch(2) and 43% of people are contaminated by the cold or flu virus by a colleague at work(3) so things like regular hand washing, and the use of sanitiser, are particularly relevant in offices where a large number of people regularly congregate and there are lots of common surfaces, whether it’s a door handle, coffee machine, a phone or a shared workstation. Air-conditioning can also affect contamination. Air-conditioning works by removing the moisture from the air, but it can also remove the protective moist layer lining the inside of the nose, making it easier for viruses to reproduce(4).
Keeping yourself fit and healthy can also build up resistance to a cold. Your immune system works better if you are getting enough sleep and exercise, as well as eating the right kind of foods.
While it makes sense to stay at home when you are sick, only 11% of workers actually do(5), so it seems that keeping the office clean is our best defence against colds and flu. This includes making sure that high-use areas such as light switches and printer buttons are cleaned regularly, as well as our keyboards and general workspace.
A healthy workplace means healthy workers, which can only lead to a healthier business.