More often than not, when we’re asked which area of our workplace is probably the most germ-ridden one, the topmost spot would go to the washrooms and pantry areas.
While those areas do have a much-deserved bad reputation for being some of the biggest contributors to the colony of germs and bacteria in our workplaces, the truth is that there are far more germy areas that horrifyingly go unnoticed in the office.
But before we delve into the grimy secrets of all the germ hotspots in your workplace, let’s take a look at what causes the spread of these hidden horrors.
How do germs spread in the workplace?
You’ve washed your hands, disposed of your trash and given your desk a good wipe with a damp cloth, so you must’ve gotten rid of all the dirt, dust and bacteria, right? Although the assumption that a good wipe is all it takes to rid your workspace of nasties is comforting, it couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Viruses, germs and bacteria can accumulate on surfaces via airborne transmission as well as by direct and indirect contact. Simply wiping things down with a damp cloth no longer does the trick, particularly in the post-pandemic new normal we live in.
Bacteria and viruses can survive well on surfaces, so a cleaning product with a disinfectant is your best bet in eliminating these unwanted guests from your belongings. However, it’s still difficult to thoroughly eliminate all the possible germ hotspots in the workplace especially since they are invisible to the naked eye.
As the day progresses, more people will touch common surfaces leading to an accumulation of germs which are then picked up and spread to your belongings once you touch the same surfaces.
Contamination levels are also believed to peak around lunchtime making everything from eating to answering a phone call or simply typing an email a risky business.
10 surprising germ hotspots in your workplace
Now that you’re aware of how germs and other invisible nasties spread, let’s explore some of the dirtiest germ hotspots in your workplace with the following list:
- Lift buttons
We tend to forget that lift buttons come in contact with numerous people every day, but these tiny buttons are some of the top breeding grounds for bacteria, germs and viruses since almost everyone needs to use the lift as they go in and out of the office building. Before you think the stairs are any cleaner, consider that stair handrails are also some of the main high-touch areas in any building!
2. Door handles
Entering and exiting a room typically requires contact with door handles or knobs, hence their capacity for carrying a plethora of germs. Plus, avoiding touching door handles can be a near-impossible feat to achieve. Worse still, all it takes is one dirty doorknob to contaminate an entire office – a grim thought indeed.
3. Desk phones, keyboards and mouse
You may be the only one using your desk phone, keyboard and mouse, but since we spend a significant portion of our time on our gadgets throughout the day, these items can also end up becoming contamination zones as they accumulate evidence of where we’ve been and what we’ve touched. Keyboards and mouse are also particularly great at hoarding germs and dirt thanks to their concave designs. If you haven’t cleaned your keyboard and mouse in a while, this is your sign to get to it with an antibacterial wipe.
We put our bags on our desks, touch our desk’s surface frequently, place miscellaneous files that have passed through multiple hands on our desks and then also come into contact with co-workers, cleaners and more. It’s easy to forget that all these actions can drag any number of bacteria and germs onto the same surface where we spend most of our working day. Studies have also shown that there are more than 10 million bacteria on a typical office desk – that’s 400 times more bacteria than found on the average toilet seat.
- Office equipment and shared furniture
While we can ensure that our personal hygiene is of the most stringent standards, the same can’t be said for everyone else in your office. Colleagues, guests and other individuals outside your organisation may also be using your office equipment or shared furniture – resulting in the spread of germs from unknown sources that you simply have no control over.
- Light Switches
How often do light switches get wiped? The answer is “not often enough”, especially considering the number of people touching them throughout the day or work week. Therein lies even more opportunities for germs to spread.
- Kitchen sponges
We’d like to imagine that the dishwashing solution we liberally scrubbed our dishes and mugs with is sufficient to stop the spread of germs and bacteria, but consider just how many people have used the very same sponge before you and what they may have touched as well. Sadly, kitchen sponges are often used for more than just scrubbing dishes and studies have found that they contain more active bacteria than anywhere in the office.
- Water Dispenser and Coffee Maker
Hydrating throughout the day is essential, but beware because you may be picking up more than just your caffeine fix or water refill when you use the shared water dispenser and coffee maker. Neither spots are places where people will think to clean often and probably accumulate their fair share of germs. Water dispenser bottles can also pick up germs during transport and delivery. On top of that, these two places are probably the most frequented spots aside from the bathrooms, so it might be wise to bring your own water and coffee whenever possible.
The large variety of hands and food that go through your office sink on a regular basis makes it a magnet for bacteria, germs and fungi – especially the faucet as everyone touches it but not many will think to give it a rinse now and then.
Carpets are typically the last places we’d think to point fingers at when it comes to spreading germs, but a dirty carpet can also be a breeding ground for bacteria and germs as they are a place of high traffic and can trap bacteria, viruses and germs as well potential allergens such as pollen, fungi and chemicals.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the germ hotspots in your workplace, but they’re a good place to start cleaning if you haven’t already.
How to prevent the spread of germs
It may impossible to wipe down every single surface that you’ll come into contact with, however, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your workplace is as germ-free and clean as possible, from the surfaces to the air you breathe.
- Hand washing and using sanitisers
Regular handwashing remains one of the best, most effective ways to remove germs and prevent the spread of bacteria to others. However, constant trips to the bathroom may be rather disruptive to your workflow so it’s advisable to keep a bottle of sanitiser and some antibacterial wipes handy for when you need a quick cleanse.
- Better workplace hygiene practices
Employees should be encouraged to frequently wipe down high-touch areas such as their workstations, keyboard, computer mouse and desk phones. A good rule of thumb is to perform a thorough wipe-down at least once a week with proper disinfectants and antibacterial wipes rather than just water or soap.
- Employing a professional cleaning service
If a job needs to be done, sometimes it’s best to leave it to the professionals – especially when it comes to cleaning common areas and shared spaces. Consider hiring a professional cleaning service to come and clean every nook and cranny of your workplace so everyone can start the week in a clean space.
- Installing air steriliser
Cleaning every surface possible simply isn’t enough to keep illnesses at bay these days – and this is where air purifiers and sterilisers come in handy. Not only can you bid musty-smelling office spaces goodbye, but you’ll also be able to take a breath of cleaner, fresher air with air purifiers such as the ones from White Umbrella. Whether you’re opting to the Flesta Air Sterilizer that proven to be able to destroys 99.99% of airborne viruses and bacteria, or prefer to save cost and install an air steriliser system into your existing air conditioning system, White Umbrella has the solution for all your air purifying needs.
Prevention is better than cure, so now that you know just where the germ hotspots are in your workplace, it’s time to get cleaning and cleansing! Check out White Umbrella’s range of air solutions that will not only keep your entire workforce cool and comfortable but also help improve air quality, save energy and safeguard everyone’s health while they’re at it.