Are you germophobic? Love your morning office cuppa? We’ve got some filthy news for you.
New research has found that the average office is a germ megatropolis. Yep that’s right. And the key germ hot spots will shock you. Many of them that you assumed were clean, actually aren’t.
The 6 office germ hot spots
1. One in five office cups have faecal matter on them - that’s a morning cup of yuk.
According to research by TotalJobs, one in five office mugs contain faecal matter because 25 per cent of people don’t wash their hands after going to the loo while at work. Hhmmm….yummy!
What’s more, around 90% of most office mugs harbour other dangerous germs on their surface.
All those coffee and tea mugs with the brown film sitting on your desk from yesterday is the single most bacteria-ridden item of those measured, according to Gerba’s research, with 2,200 bacteria per square inch. Not to mention mould too.
Simple rinsing of cups may not remove a colleague’s germs, because a mug’s outside surface could become contaminated by their hands. And if they had a cold, you could get their germs.
If you clean a cup thoroughly, you’ll cut that number down to just 110 bacteria per square inch. But by using the bacteria-laden office sponge from the shared kitchen to wipe out that cup, you won’t get anywhere close to that 110 number.
2. Office phones can have up to 25,127 germs per square inch. Hello!!!
Desk phones are the second germiest spot in an office (behind the dirty coffee cup). It can have over 1,600 bacteria per square inch (compared with just 59 per square inch on the toilet seat).
One study summed up office phones like this, “If you want to avoid germs in the office, you’d be better off licking the shared toilet seat than using the phone right in front of you!”.
Phones are rarely cleaned. Since they’re constantly being touched with hands and mouths and the odd bit of spit flying onto them from conversations, they’re a hot spot to harbour and breed different types of bacteria – everything from Helicobacter pylori, to E- Coli.
Don’t worry about E.T. phoning home – bacteria is already on the line!
3. The average office desk has over 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat.
Can I borrow your e-coli please? Sure, it’s next to the staphylococcus on the desk. Thanks!
Your office desktop isn’t only home to your office stationary and items.
Studies have shown that the average desk has up to 20,961 germs per square inch.
But who’s counting? Ok, how about this then? Other office desks have been found to have nearly 14 times more bacteria than the office toilet seat.
With some offices only being cleaned once a month or less, and many people eating lunch at their desks, a whole city of bacteria are living, breeding and living the “high-life” on people’s dirty desks.
It was even found that marketing people were the worst culprits. They were said to cohabit the messiest desks, winning the crown of having the germiest desks!
If only the bacteria could do your work, you’d be set. But they’re often the bugs that make you sick and lower your own (and the office’s) productivity with sick days.
4. Keyboards can have over 3,295 germs per square inch and a mouse can have 1,676 germs per square inch.
One survey by office supplies company Viking, found the bacteria Staphylococcus on 60% of desks. Staphy-whatus?!?!?
No matter how fast you type or how many times you click a mouse, if these aren’t being cleaned at lease once a week, you’re tapping on bacteria. And if you’re hot desking, other office colleagues’ hand germs could be transferred onto your hands.
Plus you can add to this germ count, if people are eating at their desks. Dropped food is also helping create a bacteria buffet on offices desks.
5. The office kitchen Water cooler: 2.7 million germs per square inch. Kettle handles: 2,483 germs per square inch. Fridge door handle 1,592 germs per square inch. Sugar container 1,406 germs per square inch. Water tap: 1,331 germs per square inch.
Danger Will Robinson! If you’re not familiar with Lost in Space, then think of the office kitchen as an alien planet full of bacteria just waiting to colonise your lunch, hands and mouth.
Let’s look at the biggest culprits.
The water cooler
It’s home to a whole swarm of germs and bacteria like 2.7 million per square inch. Suddenly bottled water from home is a good idea eh?
Another place most office people touch regularly throughout the day, spreading their germs is the fridge.
When you’re picking up your lunch, you cold also be picking up a bacteria take-away of dangerous bacteria Campylobacter, E. coli or Listeria – the latter can cause miscarriages and even death.
If your fridge isn’t working properly (the temp. should be below 5 degrees C) and if that forgotten lunch now growls at you, the chances of getting sick from the office fridge are even higher.
For those who keep their shopping in the fridge before going home, raw meat and vegetables that have bacteria on their outer packaging, can cross contaminate people’s lunches!
The kettle, cutlery draw, taps, in fact anything anyone touches in the kitchen, is going to have germs on it if it’s not cleaned regularly.
6. Printers can have 301 germs per square inch and photocopiers around 69 germs per square inch.
Don’t worry about the office clown photocopying their bum thinking it’s a great office joke.
When you pick up your printed papers or copied papers, there’s a high chance you’re also picking up a copy of your office colleague’s cold or flu virus. Let alone bacteria from the shared loo.
After you’ve touched the buttons and if you’re about to have lunch or a snack, wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer liquid to avoid someone’s else’s germs.
9 Tips for a cleaner office
- Offices desks, kitchens, bathrooms should be cleaned at least once a fortnight to minimise the spread of germs, cold and flu viruses – especially during winter.
- Anti-bacterial cleaning sprays and clean cloths should be used to clean all surfaces from kitchens, to desks to phones, keyboards and printer buttons etc.
- Hot water for every office clean should be used with cleaning solution to ensure floors are kept hygienically cleaned.
- Hot-cleaned fresh mops should be used for every new office clean to prevent cross-contamination between offices.
- Avoid eating food at office desks.
- Fridges should be cleaned once a week and old food thrown out.
- Office bathrooms should be cleaned especially sink drain bends, and the mop used in the bathroom shouldn’t be the same mop used to wash the office kitchen floor.
- Separate food waste from paper waste in different bins. Food bins should only be in the office kitchen.
- And of course, you should use a cleaner like no other for this – Star Express Cleaning. Ask for a quote today.
Download our Healthy Office Guide
If you think your workplace is clean, there’s a pretty good chance it may not be. And that could be affecting your workplace productivity and the number of staff sick days which could be costing your business and eating into your profits.
We’ve put together ‘10 things your current cleaning provider should be doing’. Download it and ask them. Then ask us for a quote. We’ll even give you a free office boutique hand sanitizer.
Totaljobs: workplace Hygiene
WSJ: Germ Offices
Printerland.co.uk: Germs in your Office
Independent: Average Desk contains over 400 times more germs than a toilet seat
Disclaimer: This information is not medical advice. Please speak to your doctor about prevention or treatment of illnesses or disease.