If you work in an office, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve touched a doorknob, a keyboard, a copier and a whole slew of other germ hotspots today. And depending on how clean they were, you could be passing on harmful bacteria to your co-workers and family.
According to Stephen Collins, founder of a 35-year full-service cleaning service in Massachusetts, employee health is closely related to the cleanliness of their work environment – especially during cold winter months.
“Commercial buildings are buttoned up tight in the winter, but reduced fresh air flow along and the arrival of the cold and flu season means workplaces are an ideal place for the growth and spread of germs – and a dramatic jump in sick days. Besides a person’s health, cleanliness of the work environment has a direct effect on employees’ health, mood, productivity and attendance.”
Laboratory studies have shown that cold and flu germs can remain on surfaces for 48 hours or longer – especially on surfaces like stainless steel, plastic and similarly hard surfaces. Other factors such as temperature and humidity can have an effect of the life cycle of germs outside of the body.
If the conditions below sound like your office, then it’s time to clean up your act:
- Employees work long hours in close proximity to their co-workers
- Employees regularly eat meals in their work space
- Employees sneeze, cough or yawn without covering their mouth
- Employees don’t wash their hands after using the restroom
So what’s the best way to keep your employees healthy?
Though you can’t always control employee behavior, you can ensure a clean work space. Regularly cleaning and regularly sanitizing commonly touched or handled surfaces around the office are two of the best ways to keep your employees healthy.
Encouraging hand washing with hand soap is also an important way to prevent the spread of infection. Hands should be washed frequently with soap or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (though hand soap is always preferable).