Don’t let those pristine white workstations fool you. Offices today are one of the dirtiest places you will ever find yourself in. Few people actually like spending time at work, but when you find out just how dirty offices are, you’ll be even less enthusiastic. Open plan offices have been found responsible for making more employees sick, for transmitting infections rapidly and ultimately, have more employees taking medical leave. But where do all these germs come from?
Tracking Office Germs
Any space that contains a lot of people, immediately becomes a hotbed for germs. A person who already has the virus, touches a surface and leaves traces of it behind. Now a healthy person touches that same spot and the virus gets a new home. This triggers a chain reaction, leading to an outbreak of illnesses. Another reason why germs spread is because most people aren’t as hygienic as they’d like you to think. Not every
Employees with children are also to blame for offices being full of germs. Kids are cute and all, but let’s face it, they’re often a cesspool of germs. Parents come into contact with all kinds of germs and when they come into work, their colleagues catch it too. This is especially nightmarish if their kids have lice. Unless parents take care of their kid’s lice outbreak properly, they’re very likely to catch it themselves and pass it on to their work friends.
Another problem with open office plans are that there aren’t any walls to act as barriers. Without walls to stop their path, germs are free to travel through the air and infect unwitting workers. If a person sneezes into the air, the airborne influenza virus automatically comes into contact with the people around him.
The Dirtiest Parts Of Your Office
While by common consensus offices are pretty gross in general, there are some parts that are particularly dirty. These are parts which come into the most human contact on a daily basis and so also contain the most germs. The amount of bacteria in an area is measured by CFUs (Colony Forming Units). CFUs are the total number of bacteria in a sample that are viable. To give you an idea of how many CFUs are considered to be a high bacterial count, school toilet seats contain an average of 3,200 CFUs. If you think that’s bad, there’s bad news waiting for you. In comparison, copier buttons at work have 1,200,013 CFUs. The next time you go to the copy room to get printouts, you might also get the flu. Apart from the copier buttons, coffee pot handles, doorknobs and water dispenser handles all have high CFU counts.
How To Avoid These Germs
Despite your office being a veritable minefield of bacteria and viruses, you don’t have to go in everyday wondering if it’s going to be your last. The most effective thing you can do is to avoid physical contact with people. That’s right, loners might be the healthiest of us all. Try to avoid shaking hands with people or sharing cutlery, because this increases your chances of catching germs. Washing your hands often also kills bacteria before they can make their way into your system.
The best way to avoid getting sick from work, is to maintain your overall health. A healthy immune system is able to fend off most germs easily before they can harm you. Increase your intake of vitamin C because this vitamin is the most effective at boosting your immunity. If you’re still nervous about catching an infection, then take proactive measures. If you notice a flu epidemic making its way around the workplace, don’t hesitate to get a flu shot. This will protect you, keeping you happy, healthy and productive.