Research from the University of Arizona reveals some alarming facts:
- The average office desk has 10 million bacteria — four times the bacteria count of the average toilet seat.
- Men’s workspaces are far germier than women’s.
- Phones and chairs are the germiest items in a typical office.
- High levels of contamination are also found on keyboards and in shared break room spaces.
Working from home? Researchers from Aston University in the UK checked out home offices and found that home office desks harbor more bacteria than either toilet seats or trash cans. Once again, keyboards and chairs were also heavily contaminated.
Why are desks so dirty?
In offices, desks are dirtier than you might expect because people spend a lot of time there, experts say. With hotdesking becoming more common, multiple users of desks increase the chance of sharing microorganisms. People use their desks and office machines y and touch everything with their hands — which have been in the bathroom or eating or touching all kinds of surfaces all day. Desks don’t get cleaned very often, either.
Home office desks may be cleaned even less often, especially if you don’t have a professional cleaning services taking care of that for you. After all, your boss and coworkers aren’t watching, and you may havre kids and dogs around, too. Is that a cat behind your computer monitor?
For a lot of us, as long as we keep a clear space for Zoom meetings, our offices can be completely disorganized. Chances are good that you eat at your desk, have cups of coffee there, and toss the wrappers from fast food sandwiches in the wastebasket under the desk.
Control the dirty desk!
If you don’t have a professional cleaner, consider hiring one. It’s a bona fide business expense, and likely to be tax deductible.
Even if you do have a professional cleaner (or a janitorial service if you’re in an office building), keep the surface of your desk clear. It’s not that clutter collects more germs than a bare desk, but that a clear surface can be cleaned.
Cleaning requires the removal of grime and germs from a surface. If your cleaners can’t get to the surface, they can’t clean it. Disinfecting takes place after cleaning, so a cluttered desk is likely to keep its microorganisms where a clear desk can be wiped regularly. Add food and drink plus the bacteria people naturally shed while typing, writing, using phones, and simply sitting in the chair, and you have a welcoming environment for microbes.
There are other flat surfaces
The desk is the dirtiest surface in the typical office, at home or in an office building. But it’s not the only flat surface that can be cleaned…if it’s clear.
Your office floor ma have piles and books and papers, files and boxes. These piles can prevent your cleaner (or even your robovac) from cleaning. If you do in fact have children and animals in your office occasionally, they will add to the grime and make vacuuming even more important.
Bookshelves are supposed to hold books, and books and papers generally are not disease vectors. However, a cluttered and unruly bookcase can increase stress. You may be less productive if you spend time searching for things in a disorganized space. Research shows that many people find visual clutter reduces their ability to focus. The combination of these factors can have negative effects on your work as well as your mood.
Clean the electronics
When computers were first introduced to offices, people expected that there would be no more paper on desks. That hasn’t happened. Instead, most desks still have files, notes, Post-It notes, notebooks — and also phones, computers, keyboards, and monitors.
Continue working toward reducing paper, but also clean your electronics. Use compressed air to clean your keyboard and wipe down your screens with specialized screen cleaning wipes. Make this a weekly ritual to reduce workstation bacteria and enjoy smudge-free screens, too.