January is a month that can bring all forms of blues, from the post-Christmas sadness, trying to re-balance your finances but most commonly, someone in our office will inevitably fall ill.
GCC Facilities Management conducted a study to see how often common office items were cleaned. Shockingly, telephones were found to be one of the least sterilised items, despite carrying more bacteria than the average toilet seat and being in near contact with our mouths, 28% of us have never cleaned their phone. The below guide identifies some easy and cheap ways to avoid getting sick this winter through good health practices and cleanliness. GCC FM offers a wide range of office cleaning services which you can find at www.gccfm.com/commercial-cleaning-services/.
We are within the depths of cold and flu season and no matter how well you clean your home, the germ-factory that is our office is unavoidable. By sharing space with colleagues who are carrying the cold and flu virus, despite our best efforts to avoid them, germs can spread like wildfire.
Maintaining a good standard of office hygiene is essential to avoid falling ill, not just for employees but also employers. If proper hygiene standards are not conducted, viruses can quickly spread throughout the workforce, causing more to take sick days and reduce productivity.
Keep Your Own Body Clean
This doesn’t just involve washing your hands, you need to maintain a healthy and clean body inside and out to avoid getting ill.
If you do not properly look after yourself, you can become more susceptible to bacteria and your symptoms could be worse. Look after your immune system throughout the year and this should help you avoid those nasty bugs.
Keeping hydrated is an incredibly important factor when considering all elements of your health. Avoid sugary drinks and boost your antioxidant intake with green tea.
This time of year, many of us leave in the morning and return at night when it is still dark, meaning we are lacking in Vitamin D. A deficiency in Vitamin D can lead to a lowered immunity and defence against bacteria. Consider taking supplements to keep your immune system healthy.
Most importantly, get enough sleep. Not getting a good night’s sleep can lead to a weakened immune system and this can determine how long it takes for you to recover should you catch something.
Clean Your Desk
Even if you aren’t harbouring germs yourself, it doesn’t mean your work desk isn’t.
Dr Arun Thiyagarajan, Health Clinics Medical Director of Bupa UK states:
“Surfaces and equipment can harbour dirt, viruses and bacteria that can remain active for months. Without regular office cleaning and good personal hygiene – e.g. antibacterial handwashing – there’s an increased chance of these surface germs transferring to you and giving you illnesses like flu, food poisoning and diarrhoea.”
As 37% of office workers never clean their mouse and 31% disregard their keyboards, despite constant contact, these items can be festering with over 25,000 germs per square inch.
Try to clean your desk daily, this doesn’t have to be a deep scrub but a light once-over with antibacterial wipes or spray can really have an impact on the cleanliness and make a big difference if you are trying to avoid getting ill.
Anti-Bac Is Best
Stock up on antibacterial gel for not just yourself, but others around you. As effective as hand-washing is to prevent the spread of germs, if we need to do this as often as needs to eradicate all germs on our palms, we would never leave the bathroom.
An anti-bacterial gel is a great method to quickly sterilise our hands, use it whenever you are leaving or returning to your desk to prevent germs spreading throughout the office. Encourage others to do the same, especially if they are under the weather.
Working in close proximity with others, especially within small offices, will always increase your chances of getting ill.
If you are able, work from home during sick spells in your office. Even if those who are unwell have done the same, germs can live on hard surfaces for days and if you don’t have a reliable cleaning team, you can pick these up.
Even though you may not be in the office for a day or two, this will prevent you from getting ill and taking days off where you may not have any energy to do any work at all.
If working from home is not an option, move your workstation to a more secluded area and near a flow of fresh air.
Avoid The Kitchenware
Your morning cup of coffee is incredibly important, but so is keeping healthy. Shared kitchen items such as mugs and cutlery can be a playground for bacteria. Even if these have been thoroughly washed, germ-infested hands could have still touched these, which then have direct contact with your mouth.
Bringing your own mugs from home means you can be in charge of the washing and human contact of them. It also avoids anyone who is feeling ill accidently using them.
Kitchen sponges are also riddled with bacteria and you never know who used it last so try to avoid these and instead opt for the dishwasher or take your kitchenware home.
Studies have shown sick days for preventable illnesses have increased by 12.5 million since 2011 suggesting poor cleanliness is leading to an epidemic in the workplace, costing businesses millions each year.
You can protect yourself and your business this season by following these top tips. If you are unlucky and do fall ill, protect your colleagues by staying at home to prevent spreading this sickness to them. Even if viruses are not apparent in your office, it is important to maintain hygiene standards so any germs that do enter your office are killed before they can make an impact on the workforce.