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5 simple ways to stop colds spreading around the office

Having a cold is the most common cause of sick leave, contributing to a loss of 137 million working days a year. 

Unfortunately offices are breeding grounds for germs as people share public spaces and spread bacteria all over the place with their hands.

In fact research from the University of Arizona suggests that desktops, keyboards, mice and telephones can be more contaminated than toilet seats. While toilet seats contain 49 germs per square inch, desks were found to have an incredible 21,000. This is because people touch their desks so often, leaving behind a trail of bacteria that can live for up to three days.

Here are 5 tips to limit the spread of germs around your  office:

If you're ill, stay at home

There's nothing worse than a colleague stoically sneezing and coughing their germs around the office under the guise of being hard-working. We call this 'presenteeism': showing up to look good, but not being particularly productive. This is another argument for agile working - if you can get on with things from the quarantined comfort of your home, then why not?

Use antimicrobial computer equipment

Image of antimicrobial products

Our mice and keyboards are perfect little hives for germs and for hot-deskers (those who share desks), this is a really easy way to catch a cold. A few years ago we tasked ourselves with reducing not only the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (the second most common reason for sick leave), but also common colds. Our solution was to produce our top ergonomic products - the Penguin Vertical Mouse and the revolutionary Number Slide Compact Keyboard with special antimicrobial materials.

Antimicrobial materials reduce bacteria up to 99.99%, guard against mould and reduce cross-contamination.

Sanitise busy public areas

Some parts of the office are busier than other. These 'high traffic' areas include meeting rooms, kitchens, toilets, print rooms and water coolers.

Spread information, not germs

Email this blog around, share it on social, or print out hand washing posters like this one published by the NHS. Few people are aware just how easy it is to spread our germs by not washing our hands properly.

Keep yourself fit and healthy

Eat a balanced diet, get plenty of sleep, don't smoke and aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise a day to keep your body strong enough to fight off infection. A recent study published in British Journal of Sports Medicine found that staying active halves the chance of catching a cold.