Germ Warfare: How to Navigate the Office Battleground
April 23, 2017
Working in such close proximity, employees in an office environment share more than just ideas and conversation. They are more exposed to germs and illness by coughing, sneezing, shaking hands, touching common objects and more. Germs in the office affect everyone, spreading from person to person and disrupting productivity. Find out how to improve office health and help stop the spread of germs in your workplace, creating a better environment for everyone.
Banish the Common Cold from Your Cubicle
If there are people who come to work sick, coughing and sneezing around the office, one solution is to have face masks available so team members who are feeling under the weather can keep their germs to themselves -- and others who are afraid of catching a virus can protect their immune systems.
If people frequently eat at their desks, it’s a good idea to remind them to wipe down their work spaces before and after a lunch or snack. Crumbs left around the work area provide the perfect place for harmful bacteria to grow. Keyboards are typically loaded with germs, and canned air alone doesn't do the trick. After using the compressed air to remove loose crumbs and debris, wipe down the keys with an alcohol-based sanitizer to make sure you're getting the bacteria. Keep disinfecting or sanitizing wipes on hand to wipe down other items on your desk, such as the phone, mouse and stapler.
Beat Bathroom Bacteria
Do people in your office frequently stop at the restroom on the way to meetings with an armload of papers and file folders? Consider installing a wall pocket outside the restroom door so they can keep their papers clean, dry and help protect them from germs while they use the restroom, avoiding the need to carry documents inside the facility.
Remind people to wash their hands frequently and properly. A thorough hand wash to help remove stubborn germs from the surface of the skin can take about 45 seconds.
Place foot-operated trash cans in all the bathrooms to reduce the spread of germs that can happen from touching the bin lids. Remind everyone to protect their hands with a paper towel when turning off the water or opening the bathroom door. Opt for automated soap dispensers, touchless faucets and automatic paper towel dispensers if your budget allows.
Enjoy a Clean Gathering Spot
Does everyone in the office clamor around the coffee pot in the breakroom? Common areas such as these can register a high number of germs. Use disinfecting wipes to help clear the germs, wiping them as many as three times each day, especially during cold and flu season. Don't forget about other germ hot spots, such as refrigerator doors, microwave handles, vending machine buttons, water fountains and doorknobs.
Fruits and vegetables help boost your immune system, letting your body fight off illnesses before they make you sick. Consider offering a variety of healthy snacks on the breakroom counter to encourage employees to maintain an immune-boosting diet. Avoid leaving open bags of chips, cans of nuts or jars of salsa on the counter, as they encourage the growth and spread of bacteria.
Avoid using dirty sponges to wipe down countertops and clean dishes. It’s better to use paper towels, soap and hot water. Clean the microwave frequently, and use disposable cups, plates and utensils as much as possible.
In addition to providing the right tools to keep the office clean, , it's important to provide people with the knowledge necessary to cut down on the spread of illnesses. Remind everyone to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, avoid close contact with others, and ultimately stay home when they're feeling sick. You can also encourage individuals to get a flu shot, or offer them at your workplace.
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