Everyone knows what it’s like to sit next to a sick coworker all day long. You can almost feel yourself getting sick as the constant coughing and endless nose-blowing lasts for the entire workday — and sometimes even multiple workdays. And everyone also knows what it’s like to be that person who comes to work sick and spends all day coughing and reaching for the box of tissues. Offices are full of germs — it’s a simple fact of life. Between sick coworkers and the germs produced in everyday life, the office isn’t exactly the most hygienic place to spend your time.
But what choice do you have?
You still have to go to work, but you can at least make your office a cleaner and healthier place to be. These five tips can help you keep your personal space clean and offer good suggestions for how to encourage the whole office to be cleaner.
Keep your desk area clean
At the very least, you can keep your own personal desk space clean. Wipe down your desk, chair, keyboard, computer, mouse and phone each day or every other day with antibacterial wipes. You should also avoid eating at your desk; your food is exposed to more germs than you might realize. The average desk harbors about 21,000 bacteria per square foot — that’s more than most toilet seats. If you must eat at your desk, be sure to sanitize the entire area first and wash your hands thoroughly, or you’ll essentially be eating your lunch in a filthy bathroom.
Stay on top of kitchen and break room tidiness
A kitchen sponge can have more than 50 million microorganisms living inside it at any given time, making it one of the dirtiest items to be found just about anywhere. Even if you have a pile of dirty dishes in your office kitchen (also a significant source of germs and bacteria), washing them with a filthy sponge will only make the problem worse. Keep the break room clean by washing dishes with a clean sponge or brush. Keep the countertops and sinks clean with antibacterial spray or wipes. Be sure to clean out the fridge on a regular basis and clean the handles and exterior surface of items like microwaves, toasters, refrigerators and coffee makers.
Clean the restrooms regularly
Whether an office janitorial staff is responsible for cleaning the bathrooms or members of the office staff take turns, maintaining a clean bathroom is key for keeping germs and sickness from spreading. Commercial toilets and public bathrooms are used by hundreds of people each day, so it’s absolutely imperative that they’re cleaned regularly — at least once a day. Also be sure to clean the knobs and locks on bathroom doors, sink handles, paper towel dispensers, toilet paper dispensers, sinks and countertops.
Stay home when you’re sick
Though it seems tempting to save your personal time off for vacations or fake sick days, coming to work when you truly are sick puts yourself and others at risk. Not only will you spread your germs to others, but when you come to work feeling under the weather, you’re denying your body the rest it needs to fully recover.
Practice good personal hygiene
Workplace hygiene ultimately boils down to individual hygiene. Wash your hands regularly, clean up after yourself, cover your coughs and sneezes, stay home when you’re sick and visit the doctor regularly. A healthy and clean workplace starts with you and your coworkers.