Nobody likes to take a sick day off from work, and worse still is being out of sick days and having to go to work anyway, sniffling and sneezing your way through the day. But could your office be what’s giving you that cold in the first place? Sure, we all know to wash our hands when we use the bathroom at work, but what might surprise you is that the bathroom isn’t the dirtiest part of your workplace. Here are some unexpected sources of germs around the office:
Where You Eat
The filthiest place at work, surprisingly enough, is likely to be the place where you eat lunch every day. The faucet handles in the office break room harbor the most germs of any surface in the average workplace. Other surfaces that are likely to need cleaning include the handle on the microwave door, the handle on the refrigerator, and the buttons on the vending machine; all of which are likely to be riddled with bacteria, especially if your company is among those that don’t contract with reliable cleaning services.
Where You Sit
New York City office workers (like my friends and colleagues) might think they’ll be safer if they eat at their desks, but that’s far from true. In fact, this is a major reason why computer keyboards are also some of the dirtiest things at the office. Computer mice and phones can also get pretty gross through constant handling, especially if you do so with a sandwich in one hand and a bag of Cheetos near the other.
Where You Drink
At this point, you might want to step away from your desk for a quick breather. But not so fast: The button on the water fountain and the handle of the office coffee pot are also prime places to find germs that could get you sick.
What to Do
So what’s an office worker to do? You can’t very well skip lunch, after all, not if you expect to make it through the work day. There are a few easy solutions, though, to help protect yourself from office germs. First of all, the oldest advice is still the best: wash your hands right before you touch your food, using a clean, dry paper towel to turn off the sink when you’re done. And once you open up the bag of chips or candy you just got out of the vending machine, don’t forget to wash your hands before you reach inside, since you’ve just touched both the dirty machine and the cash you used to buy that snack. In a rush? Keep a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer in your pocket or purse and use that instead: It’ll do in a pinch.
It’s also a good idea to keep your desk clean, whether you plan to eat while you type or not. I find that the best solution here is to keep a package of disinfectant wipes in a desk drawer. I give my keyboard and mouse a good cleaning from time to time, both to keep them germ-free and to help them function better. I also like to give my whole desk a good once-over every week or so to get rid of any dust or grime that might have accumulated
What’s the moral of this story? Well, with a little effort from office workers and a bit of help from reliable cleaning services, New York City workplaces can be healthier places. This shift could also boost productivity around the office. After all, it’s easier to get work done when you’re not distracted by a chorus of coughs and sneezes!