Maintaining the cleanliness of the workplace doesn’t stop at the break room or restrooms. You’d be surprised to know that bacteria lurk in items and places you would least suspect.
If you were told that sitting at your desk 8 hours a day exposes you to germs, would you believe it? There are occupations that we know increases the risk of encountering dirt and bacteria, such as garbage collection, janitorial, or plumbing jobs. Surely, your office job keeps you relatively cleaner, right?
Not so, says this study that reveals that the average office desk harbors more than 10 million bacteria, which is 400 times more germs than found on a toilet seat!
The Dirty Dozen (and more)
In the same study, it was found that high bacterial counts were detected on a variety of surfaces in the workplace:
- Elevator buttons
- Office phones
- Water fountains
- Computer keyboards
- Vending machine buttons
- Computer mice
- Break room sink faucet handles
- Microwave door handles
- Refrigerator door handles
Not to mention mobile devices, doorknobs/handles, headsets, pens, printers, mugs… the list could go on and on. If it’s being touched by multiple people multiple times a day, you can bet it’s got germs on it.
Of course, where bacteria flourish, infections are not far behind.
How does this happen?
- Improper hand washing
It comes as no surprise that the biggest contributor to infections is improper hand hygiene. Even though this is a lesson taught early in life, many people just don’t wash their hands properly.
- Sick employees coming to work
Because of limited sick days in many organisations, employees still come to work whilst unwell, exposing others to illness.
Why is it important to maintain a clean workplace?
- Less absenteeism
A report by PricewaterhouseCoopers commissioned by Medibank Health revealed that absenteeism cost the Australian economy $7 billion each year. Ensuring the cleanliness of your workplace contributes to the good health of your employees, resulting in fewer sick days.
- Improves productivity
When people go to work sick, their performance suffers, and it increases the risk of spreading disease. In fact, this study by The Center for International
Economics revealed that it costs the Australian economy an estimated $34.1 billion per year in lost productivity. A clutter-free and neat office decreases distractions, resulting in increased productivity and even higher quality work.
- Increases employee satisfaction
A clean work environment breeds satisfaction and boosts employee morale. Workers feel more appreciated by their employers and company when they can see the effort that is put in to ensure cleanliness and order in the office.
- Motivates employees
Clean workplaces appear more dignified and respectable which will help to influence the mindset of your workers and inspire them to act in a more professional manner. This will help them to focus on the tasks at hand and do their best.
- Happier employees
Because your workers spend the better part of the day at the office, associating positive feelings with being in the workplace becomes necessary. When employees have high morale and satisfaction in the workplace, it follows that they are happier with their jobs.
- Maintains equipment and furnishings
Keeping your workplace clean ensures the longevity of your equipment and furnishings. Investing in high quality, eco-friendly and Worksafe cleaning agents not only helps ensure the effectiveness of the cleaning process, it also safeguards the health and well-being of your workforce, assets, and the environment.
How do we achieve a clean workplace?
Whilst it may be the janitorial team’s job to clean, achieving and maintaining a hygienic workplace is everyone’s responsibility. Some good practices to introduce and encourage everyone to start doing include:
- Routine (and proper) hand washing
This is one of the most effective ways of limiting the spread of bacteria. Encourage your employees to get into the habit of properly washing their hands, especially before eating and after using the restroom. Place hand sanitisers or alcohol in strategic locations so they can be used in between washes.
- Allow remote working for sick employees
Remote work is a win-win situation for you and your sick employee: you can keep the rest of your workforce protected from illness and the sick employee can still be productive and hand in necessary work (that’s if they don’t want to call in sick instead).
- Invest in safe and effective cleaning agents
Not all cleaning products are created equal. Take a careful look at the labels of traditional cleaning agents, such as cleaners, degreasers and disinfectants, and you’ll find the many harmful ingredients quietly lurking in them. Choosing a safe and effective range of cleaning agents ensures the health of your workforce. Additionally, it allows your janitorial staff to clean efficiently, saving you time and money.
- Introduce cleaning regimen to employees
Educate and regularly remind your workers of the importance of keeping the workplace clean and why everyone should pitch in and do spot cleaning. Encourage your employees to practise a simple and straightforward cleaning regimen, such as wiping down their office desks (including computer keyboards, mice and telephones) with a sanitising spray once or twice a day; and keeping communal spaces, such as the kitchen, clean (including microwave ovens, refrigerators, sinks), to name a few.