Fears over the spread of the COV-19 virus – the virus the media calls the coronavirus, although that is a term for a group of viruses and thus incorrect – has employers thinking more about improving the health of their workers and the workplace they come to every day. But the fact is that it should not have taken a possible pandemic for this to happen.
We spend so much of our time in the office that it should come as no surprise that it's one of the places where we are most likely to fall sick. For the sake of your health and that of your team – now is the time to find out where the bacteria hotspots are around your office and encourage everyone – yourself included – to stop these common unhygienic habits at work in general, not just when a virus is making the news.
Leaving Open Food Containers in the Office Fridge
This might sound like a no-brainer, but amid work distractions, you might sometimes forget to seal (not just cover) your food container. From airborne bacteria to cross contamination, leaving food open without a seal or in a container can be very harmful, especially when you're sharing the fridge with all of your colleagues.
Also, make sure to label your items properly so people don't use your items by mistake, and throw out anything that's expired.
Resting Your Face on Your Hands
This one's for those of us who have a habit of resting or leaning your face on your hands or cupping your face as you work. Just think about it: How many different parts of the office do you come into contact with every day?
From door handles to files and folders to the shared kitchen space, every surface contains bacteria that you unwittingly transfer to your face each time you touch it. This can lead to breakouts and spreads bacteria easily.
Make it a point to sit up straight so you're less inclined to lean forwards, or place a mirror in front of you so you'll be more aware each time you touch your face.
Forgetting to Wash Your Mug
Most of us own some kind of water jug or mug that we use regularly at the office. Which is good, as remaining hydrated is a must for your health in general. But how often do we bring these items to the kitchen for a soap and rinse?
Bacteria often thrives in water, so it's wise to wash your daily mug or cup with soap and water each time you use it, and your water pitcher at least once a week. To really kill germs, consider rinsing with hot water that will help sanitize even further.
Also, be sure to dry out office kitchen sponges properly and replace them as often as possible, as damp sponges can harbor some serious illness-causing germs too.
Allowing a Messy Microwave
We've seen some pretty nasty office microwave ovens that look like they haven't been cleaned for months, judging by the buildup of crusty dried-up sauces and grease stains.
But that's not all – the microwave door handle and buttons are all prime breeding grounds for bacteria, especially if people didn't wash their hands before touching them.
To prevent splattering, always cover your containers with paper towels or use containers with lids with a vent that allow steam to escape. You should also wipe away any spills and splatters after each use as an act of courtesy to the next person.
Not Cleaning Your Desk Space Often Enough
Plenty of research has shown that the average office desk is a lot dirtier than a toilet bowl. This is because the toilet bowls in offices are often cleaned more often than the desks. After all, it is where waste matters end up so a more conscious effort is made to clean it compared to an office desk.
However, desks, especially those that are eaten at, can be bacteria hotspots. Try to wipe down your keyboard, telephone and mouse at least twice a week sanitizing spray or wet wipes and encourage team members to do the same.
You should also try to end the practice of eating at desks altogether. Not only will that allow people to keep a cleaner desk space but as it's bad for their health in general – your team need breaks away from their desks to reduce back pain and joint damage, prevent eyestrain and more – it will help them stay healthier and more productive too.