We all spend so much time in workplaces assuming that they’re hygienic and safe yet the practices needed for a truly healthy work desk and space are often understated. One of the key takeaways of 2020 was how the smallest things can make an impact when it comes to individual and public health both at home and at work.
To learn how to maintain a clean and healthy work desk at the workplace and your home office, read on. Also, at the end of this article is a link to an infographic explaining in detail this article with statistics, plus a practical checklist for workplaces.
Health & hygiene facts
In the workplace, there is strong data to show the many links between illness and immunity. While there are always allegories around seasonal illnesses such as colds and flu, the low-level impacts are worth discussing when it comes to the connection between hygiene and overall health.
For example, offices tend to be cleaned regularly to a commercial standard yet individual desks and personal equipment statistically carry a lot of bacteria and organic matter.
In fact, data from Printerland shows that the average desk has 400 times more germs than a toilet seat harboring 20,961 germs per square inch!
Image Source: Printerland
Beyond what can be controlled, there’s also an inherent risk of spreading germs, bacteria, and viral fragments just through close quarters and long periods spent in enclosed spaces especially if people are propelling infected droplets through coughing and sneezing.
Cleaning, Disinfecting & Sanitizing – Understanding the Differences
To help combat and minimize these risks, it’s obviously necessary to implement a strong framework of actively cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing. Firstly though, let’s differentiate between the three practices and how they impact health and hygiene.
This works with soap or detergent to physically remove dirt, impurities, and germs. The main characteristic here is that cleaning removes rather than kills germs while helping to lower the risk of infection spreading.
This involves chemicals that work to kill germs. It doesn’t specifically clean a space or remove the germs yet it can help with lowering the risk of infection spreading, too. This is the strongest approach for health and hygiene however it’s not a guaranteed way to eradicate the germs that survive.
This incorporates both cleaning and disinfecting to lower the number of germs through removing and killing. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that sanitizing kills 99.9% of germs on hard surfaces.
The Health Benefits of Hygiene & Anti-viral Practices
Beyond the obvious benefits of stringent and consistent cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing a desk, there are additional flow-on benefits that are part of public health as well as holistic outcomes for a workplace:
- Improved health and less sick days: research has found that the common cold causes around 22% of sick days in the UK due to coughing and sneezing, poor ventilation, and difficulty maintaining hygienic workplaces while people are sick. Proper practices that are designed around removing infectious debris and germ spread as well as other preventative processes really does make a difference.
- Reduced risk of food poisoning and other bacteria-related illnesses: as discussed above, average workplaces are a real melting pot of people sharing physical spaces and difficulties with maintaining cleaning all day every day. Not convinced? 90% of most office mugs have been found to harbor dangerous germs on their surfaces so removing sharing from the equation targets one risky norm!
- Enhanced productivity: a better working environment has complementary correlations to enhanced workflow and organization (particularly when you remove piles of paperwork on a desk due to how they can house dust and cause allergy flare-ups).
- Increased positivity for mindset improvements: while not an obvious one, a prioritization of cleaning helps with health promotion and reassuring people that the workplace is safe plus communicates that wellbeing is an organization’s priority. Clear practices that are about a healthy environment can help reduce anxiety and promote values of health.
Also Read: Workplace Safety Tips to Get More out of Your Small Business
Hot Hygiene Tips for your Desk & Workspace
Prioritizing anti-viral procedures is a critical factor for offices with the baseline goal being to keep surfaces disinfected. Here are six tips for managing a desk as this is where you can really control germs and dust building up while maintaining systems that are consistent with best practice health and hygiene advice.
1. Know poor hygiene hotspots
Most offices and desks harbor bacteria, germs, and viral fragments with some ‘high traffic’ spots particularly susceptible to this. Make sure to use a disinfectant spray and wipe to keep these hotspots clean: door handles, chairs, computers including the mouse and keyboard, phones, and pens and pencils.
2. Stop sharing equipment
There are many statistics about germ buildup on public equipment such as library computers. Avoid sharing equipment as much as possible and keep antibacterial wipes on hand to clean an item that’s been loaned.
3. Create cleaning systems
The basic premise here is to regularly wipe down surfaces with a daily cleaning schedule. Keep disinfectant spray, paper towels, and antibacterial wipes on hand with special focus on hygiene hotspots.
4. Maintain hygiene standards
This is about creating an environment that promotes healthy hygiene habits including a 60% alcohol hand sanitizer gel and a face mask while removing habits like eating and drinking (other than water) at a desk which can spread bacteria.
5. Safely dispose of waste
Properly dispose of all waste daily and ensure waste is transferred to a bin immediately, e.g. tissues, to prevent viral and bacterial droplets spreading.
6. Remember stationery and personal items
A lot of random objects on a desk surface contribute to bacteria, dust, and other allergens clustering. Ensure paperwork is filed away or destroyed, streamline stationery equipment and store in a draw, and spray or wipe down work surfaces daily.
What next for your hygienic desk setup and a checklist for desk hygiene
To make the most of these healthy desk tips and optimize hygiene, this infographic guide from Cleaning Services Group expands on the topics discussed in this article with even more details and statistics, plus a practical checklist for workplaces (including home offices). Check out the resource and here’s to healthy habits.
How To Maintain a Clean and Healthy Work Desk