How do we stop the spread of nasty (and costly) office germs?

Lady with her head in her hand

The number of sick days taken by employees may have fallen in the last year, but experts warn this is because cultures of presenteeism and job insecurity encourage more people to go to work ill. Not only does this accelerate the spread of germs, but it also ends up costing businesses far more. Here's how to fight office colds the right way...

In response to the latest sickness absence statistics, The Trades Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s time to ditch the myth that UK workers are always throwing sickies. The reality is that people are more likely to go to work when ill than stay home when well.

“If someone is poorly, good employers will encourage them to rest up and get better. UK workers already put in billions of pounds worth of unpaid overtime every year. They shouldn’t have to battle through illness as well.”

Unfortunately, offices can be breeding grounds for germs. This is where people come off trains and buses and sit together all day in a confined space. Sharing public spaces and equipment spreads bacteria from person to person - especially if people aren't washing their hands or wiping down their work areas.

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.

Install air purification systems

The AeraMax® Pro air purifier captures up to 99.9% of germs in a 300-700 square foot space. EnviroSmart technology measures the air quality and automatically adjusts the filter's performance to maintain healthy, pure air without using up unnecessary energy.

As well as helping prevent the spread of colds, AeraMax Pro can help:

  • Boost concentration and alertness
  • Increase productivity
  • Reduce absenteeism
  • Reduce odour.

For advice on choosing the right model and having it installed, please fill out this form and we'll get back to you.

Encourage workers to stay home when ill

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

Use antimicrobial computer equipment

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. There are many ways to stay active at work, even if your job is mainly sedentary. Try working with an Opløft Sit-Stand Platform and switch between sitting and standing every 20 minutes to keep yourself active and healthy.

What next?

If you are interested in finding out more about AeraMax air purifiers, please fill out the form below and we will be in touch with help.