While some areas of the country continue to fight new outbreaks of the coronavirus, many have been able to start returning to work in an office over the past few weeks, after spending months working from home.
Of course hand washing and cleaning should already be at the top of everyone’s mind when it comes to their desk and workspace, but here is another friendly reminder about just how many germs can be lurking on common office items.
Office suppliers Viking decided to do an experiment with the help of a team of technicians from the local university to see how dirty their own office equipment was, and were actually a little shocked by some of the results.
“The results were disgusting, and certainly highlighted just how important it was to keep your work area as clean as possible,” the UK company revealed on its website.
Swab samples were taken from various objects around the office including desks, phones, keyboards, printers, doors and the hot water tap. While the test was done pre-pandemic, the results still highlight some of the areas across the office where bacteria is likely to grow.
The items tested were:
Hot water boiler
Cleaned computer mouse (using generic desk wipes)
Main corridor door handle
“We then put the dishes in a breathable cardboard box somewhere warm for five days,” the team explained.
“After five days, the bacterial and fungal cultures had grown to visibly revolting levels.”
The ‘cleanest’ sample as you might expect came from the mouse that had been cleaned, with almost no bacteria build up after five days. The mouse that hadn’t been cleaned on the other hand showed a fair amount of bacteria growth after the same time period.
“It highlighted just how important it was to regularly clean your equipment and work surfaces – particularly when somebody in your office is ill, or during a situation such as COVID-19.”
When it comes to lending people your pen that might a big no going forward, particularly if you have a tendency to chew the end of it.
The team found that chewed ballpoint pens and pencils seem to harbour many germs, even after they’ve been sat ‘unchewed’ for a few days.
“The problem here is that, if you chew your pen, you’re essentially creating a point of contagion that you then carry around with you,” they explained.
“Lend it to a colleague and you could be exposing them to something that makes them ill. On top of all this, if the pen itself becomes contaminated you’re then bringing this contamination straight into your mouth.”
The sample with the largest range of bacteria and fungi came from the desk. A desk would come into contact with various things throughout the day, and even more so if workers choose to eat their lunch at their desk as well.
Surprisingly, in this instance, the phone and keyboard samples were on the lower end of the bacteria growth, but there was still some present after five days.
“Keeping work and common areas as clean as possible is a vital step towards reducing the risk of transmitting illnesses, whether that is COVID-19 or a more general bug,” the team concluded.