When asked about the dirtiest places in the office, most people wouldn’t hesitate at suggesting it’s the bathroom. Although they’re not entirely wrong, there are also many other areas within the average business that are harbouring lots of harmful bacteria. This is annoying for employers that have to allocate sick days for staff and a dirty workplace has also been proven to reduce productivity levels.
In a study by Kimberly-Clark Professional, 5,000 surfaces in office buildings that housed approximately 3,000 employees were swabbed. The offices were homes to businesses such as law firms, insurance companies, health care companies, call centres and manufacturing facilities.
The swabs were analyzed with a device used to assess sanitary conditions in the industry, known as an ATP meter. It measures levels of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule found in all animal, vegetable, bacteria, yeast and mold cells. High ATP levels are usually present in food or other organic residues left on surfaces. The more ATP found on a surface, the higher the chance it is flourishing with bacteria and viruses.
An ATP reading of over 100 suggests a surface could use a scrub-down. Surfaces with readings over 100 that could use disinfecting included:
• 91% of break room sink faucet handles
• 80% of microwave door handles
• 69% of keyboards
• 69% of refrigerator door handles
• 53% of water fountain buttons
• 51% of all computer mice
• 51% of all desk phones
• 48% of all coffee pots and dispensers
• 43% of vending machine buttons
Readings of 300 or above are considered dirty with a high risk for spreading illness. The dirtiest office surfaces found to have ATP counts of 300 or higher were as follows:
• 75% of break room sink faucet handles
• 48% of microwave door handles
• 27% of keyboards
• 26% of refrigerator door handles
• 23% of water fountain buttons
• 21% of vending machine buttons
Whilst most people are very aware of the germs that linger in the communal areas, specifically the bathrooms, not may people would consider their office desk as a high risk for spreading viruses.
But there is a way to reduce these germs from the workplace. Diligent washing, wiping and sanitising can help office workers reduce their rates of cold, flu and stomach illness by up to 80%. That means less employees off work, happier staff and a better business.
However, expecting your staff to keep their desks clean can result in a few eye rolls and if your workforce are busy doing their job, taking the time to clean their area falls to the last of their priorities. (And that’s without tackling the communal areas of your office.)
The best solution is to hire a professional, quality commercial cleaning company that can do all the work for you and reduce the risk of staff getting sick. A clean, fresh workplace also boosts the business morale and promotes higher levels of productivity.