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Office Germs: Where Are Bugs Hiding In Your Workplace?

25 April 2022

Since the start of the global pandemic, we have all become hyper-aware of germs. But did you know offices can be an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and viruses? While you may think your office looks nice and clean on the surface, there may be lots of hidden nasties lurking underneath. Cramped indoor spaces, shared furniture and equipment and a recirculated air supply, mean that colleagues share more than the latest gossip. Nasty bugs can be passed around the office in no time, leaving workers phoning in sick and susceptible to serious illness.

Which areas of the office are these nasty germs likely to be lurking? Join us as we explore the germ hotspots of the office and consider how to minimise the risk of these nasties.

1. Office Telephones

Telephones are one of the most widely used pieces of communal equipment found in an office. When the phone is ringing, most people don’t stop to sanitise or wash their hands before answering it. Everybody’s germ-riddled hands have likely been all over the office phone at some point throughout the day. What’s more, as you talk into the phone, you are directly breathing your mouth germs all over the phone’s surface. The office phone has probably got forgotten about during a deep clean, leaving these germs to breed and spread to others.

To keep your office phones germ-free, remember to regularly give them a quick clean with an antibacterial wipe.  

2. Keyboards

You will probably be horrified to learn that your computer keyboard is 20,000 times dirtier than your toilet seat! That’s not a nice thought, is it? Your hands are in contact with your keyboard for most of the day, so germs can be transferred onto there from anything that you have touched. Unsurprisingly, shared keyboards are likely to harbour the most germs, with the potential to transmit nasty infections between co-workers.

As with your office phone, try and give your keyboard a quick clean with an antibacterial wipe regularly throughout the day. If you share a keyboard with your colleagues, you may wish to give it a wipe before and after you use it.

3. Lift Buttons

If you work in a busy office building, the lift buttons are likely to get pressed by many, many people throughout the day. With over 1,500 bacteria residing on every square centimetre of skin on our hands, they are a major source of germs. While the importance of washing our hands is clear, particularly in the midst of a global pandemic, a large percentage of office workers don’t bother. Shocking right?! So, who knows what is lurking on these lift call buttons after Dave from Floor 3 has just been to the toilet and is heading back to the office?

To limit your risk of picking up any nasty bugs as you catch the lift to the canteen, you could carry a small bottle of hand sanitiser with you. Quickly sanitise your hands before and after using the lift buttons to protect yourself and others.

4. Toilet Door Handles

If some of your colleagues are “forgetting” to wash their hands after using the little boy’s or girl’s room, then there are probably some very nasty bugs hanging around on the toilet door handles. While these may seem an obvious hotspot for germs, they are often overlooked during the daily office clean. Those trusty antibacterial wipes to the rescue again!

5. Shared Stationery

Do you have a habit of borrowing your colleague’s pen to take a quick note, or grabbing their highlighter as yours has run out of ink? We are all guilty of it! Well, you may want to think twice about it in future as shared stationary is another breeding ground for germs. If you do share stationary with your co-workers, remember to sanitise or wash your hands before and after using it.

6. Desk Surface

Look down at the surface of your desk. It looks clean and tidy, doesn’t it? Or does it? In fact, if you were to look at it under a microscope, you would see millions of germs crawling around, just waiting for the opportunity to get you sick.

By keeping your desk tidy and clutter-free, you will make it easy to give it a quick clean throughout the day. If you work in a hot-desking environment, you should sanitise your desk area before and after you use it.

7. Vending Machine Keypad

As with the lift buttons, the vending machine keypad gets used by lots of office staff throughout the day. Think about how many of your colleagues get that 3 pm slump and head to the vending machine for a sugar boost. You can guarantee none of them thinks about giving the keypad a quick wipe down while they are there. Next time you head to the vending machine, take your antibacterial wipes with you.

8. Kettle Handle 

A hot cup of coffee or tea is an essential part of the office day, so it is not surprising that the kettle handle is another source of contamination. Think about how many hands touch that handle every day, leaving their germs behind as they go on their way. Try to encourage your colleagues to give the kettle a quick clean each time they wipe down the kitchen surfaces.

Final Thoughts

Now you know where germs may be hiding in your office, you can help to prevent their spread. Implement some basic cleaning measures in these high-risk areas and encourage your work colleagues to wash their hands regularly throughout the day, particularly after going to the toilet and before eating.