Germs and Your Workstation: An Office Love Affair

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With the chill of winter upon us and sniffles in the air we must conclude that flu season is well underway but perhaps we can hope to avoid the all too familiar sore throats and dripping noses this year by improving our office hygiene and helping to wage war again winter germs!

The impact of staff colds is not to be sniffed at, every year colds and flu account for short term staff absences, costing companies money. As a result office hygiene has become big business for some enterprising organisations.

I googled “office hygiene” and was amazed at how many businesses there are out there offering specialised solutions to help us keep our desks, IT and phone equipment germ-free. One such company, PROtech IT, offered possibly the most convincing marketing strategy on their website that I have ever seen in the form of a stomach-churning list of office hygiene facts that convinced me within moments that I was in need of their services. After reading the list through eyes that, although horrified, refused to look away, I learned that…

  • An office desk is capable of supporting 10 million microbes and the average office contains 20,961 microbes per square inch
  • The key offenders are telephones, which harbour up to 25,127 microbes per square inch, keyboards 3,295 and computer mice 1,676
  • When someone is infected with a cold or flu bug the surfaces they touch during the day become germ transfer points because some cold and flu viruses can survive on surfaces for up to 72 hours
  • A keyboard is a tray and catches nasal droppings, food, skin and hair
  • Enough skin falls of a human to fill one tea cup a day
  • 31% of men and 17% of women confessed to not washing hands after going to the toilet: One in five said they did not bother because their hands looked clean.
  • E-Coli naturally lives in your intestines but you can find it on your phone


Coughed on, sneezed on, spat on, even dripped on by our runny noses, the workstation is a daily stage for our truly disgusting office habits and calling in a specialist company to deal with the consequences of our germ-harvesting antics would certainly seem like a good idea. Taking the responsibility upon ourselves to make some small changes to our day-to-day habits could also help to create a healthier working environment for us and our colleagues.

Washing our hands, for example, is something that we are all taught to do as infants but the above statistics offered by PROtech IT prove that not all of us were good little children! Ask your boss to make anti-bacterial soup available in the toilets and to hang up “wash your hands” reminder signs encouraging staff to make this obvious first defence against germs habitual.

Desktop-eaters have got to be another group of regular offenders helping to spread and harvest those workstation germs. As the winter weather worsens an increasing number of us will choose to eat our lunches at their desks rather than leaving the office. Make sure that you take responsibility for cleaning up your area, clearing away food and drink spillages properly to avoid mould.

How clean is your office? Have you ever been alarmed by the habits of your co-workers? Write in and tell us all about it (the dirtier the better!)

To find out more about PROtech IT Hygiene contact David Mclenachan, National Accounts Director, on 07866 268140.

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This article was written by Ceri Lenahan for the exclusive use of Nuclei Limited websites. Please do not copy our articles without permission from the author.

5 thoughts on “Germs and Your Workstation: An Office Love Affair”

  1. I used to sit next to a guy that would eat his lunch at his desk and then floss his teeth flicking bits of spit all over his computer screen – i am not kidding! DISGUSTING!

  2. I’m sure there is truth in all of this. I work out of the office a lot of the time, but I will sometimes go in for a week when there is a new project. I often find that I come down with a cold. I can also notice a lot more dirt on the keyboards there, than on my home computer.

  3. People that sneeze without covering their mouths really gets to me … all those germs sprayed around the office …. might as well blow a raspberry in someones face YUK!

  4. Desktop eaters are the ones that get to me! i hate having to use the equipment in the office that has been used by people that eat at their desks and use their computer (or even mine) at the same time…. WHY? just eat and then go and wash your hands – what is so difficult about that?

    Spread of germs through colds etc. is a hard one due to the social pressure if feeling like one must work OR when you feel you caught it from your colleague and therefore why should you go home and not give it back to him/her!

  5. In our office we pass around the antibacterial stuff – hand gel, sprays or desk wipes – its not that difficult – you just need a bit of consideration for others!

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