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Creating A Healthier Workplace:
Germ Hotspots In The Office

As cleaning specialists for London, it is our goal to help our clients to provide a clean and hygienic place for people to work. In fact our own offices in Battersea were voted the UK’s healthiest office.

This knowledge and expertise gained from winning this award allows us to identify ways in which businesses in London can improve the cleanliness and hygiene levels of their offices. In this guide, we look at ways to create a better, and healthier workplace, and in particular, how to tackle germ hotspots in the office. 

Contents:

  1. What Are Germ Hotspots & Where Are They Usually Found?
  2. How Can Office Workers Do Their Bit To Prevent An Outbreak?
  3. How Can Employers Motivate Employees To Practise Better Health And Hygiene?
  4. Julius Rutherfoord: Taking Vital Steps Toward A Healthy Workplace Environment

What Are Germ Hotspots & Where Are They Usually Found?

Germ hotspots are places in our everyday environment where more germs tend to accumulate because of frequent use. In the office, these areas often include:

  • At your desk: Phone receiver and number keypad, computer keyboard, mouse and other electronic on/off buttons or switches.
  • In the kitchen: Kitchen taps, sponges, mugs, dish towels, microwave buttons and the on/off switch on the kettle.
  • In the bathroom: Hand dryer button, toilet flush lever and soap dispensers.
  • Throughout Office: Door and cupboard handles and knobs, lift buttons, light switches, the floor and other surfaces.

Essentially, germ hotspots are what we all frequently touch and use on a daily basis. They require particular attention when cleaning as they’re often where you’ll find harmful bacteria that may cause illnesses, such as the common cold, influenza virus and other infectious diseases. Worryingly, germs can live up to 48 hours on these surfaces, including harmful bacteria, which is why it is so important that we regularly and thoroughly clean these areas using the appropriate method and solution. This way, less people are exposed to risk of infection as they go about their daily lives, and consequently, it will help to prevent the spread of viruses through an office.

Unfortunately there is no way to avoid all of these touch points or hotspots, but what we can do is make people more aware of them so that they can make better health and hygiene choices, such as washing their hands regularly.

Julius Rutherfoord’s cleaners are specifically trained to target germ hotspots in the office as part of their daily service and we have developed specially formulated cleaning wipesfor use on electronic equipment. Wework hard to provide the highest level of cleaning service for commercial, educational and community establishments, keeping workplaces healthy and preventing the spread of infections to others. This has been recognised through several awards, most notably the Kimberly-Clark Golden Service Award for the UK’s ‘Healthy Workplace’ category.

Creating A Healthier Workplace

How Can We All Do Our Bit To Prevent An Outbreak?

According to Durable UK, 71% of workers believe that dirty office spaces have made them ill in the past. Fortunately, there are numerous steps all office workers can take to improve the cleanliness of their environment, and all of them are relatively straightforward and easy to do. Fundamentally, the benefits of keeping your workplace environment clean far outweigh any effort taken. Here are just some of the ways you can minimise bacteria in the office and prevent an outbreak:

In The Kitchen

The office kitchen – despite being a place where workers might clean their dishes and other kitchen essentials – is in fact where many companies will find the most bacteria. This is because it’s also where we prepare food and drink, and like us, bacteria need to feed. Therefore microscopic food and drink particles that have accumulated in the sink, communal office mugs, on dish towels and more, serve as a breeding ground for germs.

  • Ensure re-usable dish towels are washed and replaced regularly. Kitchen roll that can be discarded is considered a better option for reducing instances of illness. Sponges should also be replaced regularly too, and mugs cleaned (not just rinsed) properly.
  • Additionally, regularly sanitize all surfaces, inside the refrigerator (including those pop-out compartments), microwave, kettle and other appliances, and especially in germ hotspots (as detailed above).

At Desk

Your office desk harbours more bacteria than you might think, in fact, researchers have even suggested that they have, on average, 400 times more bacteria than your average toilet seat. So although it might look clean, the amount of germs that will accumulate on your mouse, phone and inside your keyboard, in just one day, can be quite substantial.

  • Sanitize all surface areas regularly and thoroughly, especially hotspots such as your computer keyboard. Depending on how often you clean your keyboard, you may want to remove its keys to properly clean it.
  • Don’t eat lunch at your desk – Fallen crumbs from your lunchtime meal will only encourage the growth of bacteria – even drink spillages can become a source of food for those microscopic organisms!

Throughout Office

As all workers, clients and visitors pass through the office daily, it’s obviously essential that cleanliness is a top priority in passageways, lifts, waiting areas and other communal spaces.

  • Make the availability of disinfectant wipes, antibacterial soap (ideally from touchless dispensers) and hand gel a priority to not only aid in preventing the spread of disease, but also to promote cleanliness too.
  • Immediately clean up drink spillages and crumbs on surfaces to prevent bacteria thriving.
  • Suggest to workers to get the flu vaccination, more commonly known as the “flu jab”, to minimise their risk of infection. It is free under the NHS for anyone aged 65 and over, and adults over the age of 18 who are more at risk at flu, such as those with a weakened immune system, an underlying health condition and pregnant women.

Germ Hotspots In The Office

How Can Employers Motivate Employees To Practise Better Health And Hygiene?

Everyone can do their bit to reduce bacteria build-up in the office, and according to PwC research, which has highlighted that sick days cost UK businesses £29 billion each year, it should be paramount to employers to implement some kind of healthy workplace policy. Here at Julius Rutherfoord, we have a proven track record of eradicating outbreaks in open-plan environments and reducing instances of staff sickness, and we’re continuously on the lookout for innovative ways to improve the cleaning services we provide.

  • As an employer try to discourage employees from attending work when they feel ill, as this will just put others at risk of illness, especially when they sneeze or cough.
  • Since a virus on one person’s hands can be transferred up to six times, the most effective measure against the spread of germs is to promote thorough hand washing. Ensuring antibacterial gel and soap dispensers are always present and full is definitely a step in the right direction!

The Julius Rutherfoord ‘Healthy Workplace Initiative’, in collaboration WITH Kimberly-Clark, strives to create a happier, more enthusiastic and productive workplace environment by highlighting how minor illnesses in the office can impact everyone and helping employees be more hygiene conscious.

Julius Rutherfoord: Taking Vital Steps Toward A Healthy Workplace Environment

We can never completely avoid germs or entirely sanitize our offices and homes, as germs are present everywhere.  However, those who maintain a healthy lifestyle and practise better hygiene will be less likely to be infected as frequently as those who don’t. Even when an illness does occur, they’ll be better able to fight it off and continue with their healthy lifestyle.

If you would like more information or more advice on how to maintain high standards in your office, why not read our ‘Guide: 8 ways to keep a healthy workplace’, or contact our customer services team today on 020 7819 6700, or email  info@julius-r.co.uk.

Julius Rutherfoord