Is your office as clean as you think?
Is your office as clean as you think it is, or have you become so used to it that you no longer see the problem?
If you were to visit your workplace for the first time, what perception would you have of your organisation? Would you think it a comfortable, pleasant, safe environment to work in? Or would you consider it unprofessional, disorganised, even unhygienic?
How clean and tidy your office is says a lot about your organisation. For 89 percent of Americans the condition of a workplace restroom indicates how a company values its workforce.
Workplace habits that put workers at risk
Modern workplaces are designed to encourage close collaboration, socialising, and sharing of workspaces and technology. But common practices such as open plan offices and hotdesking, when paired with inadequate cleaning, can lead to unhygienic and unsafe offices. Workers in open plan offices have a 62 percent higher incidence of absence than those in private or smaller shared workspaces.
The average desk is dirtier than a toilet seat
Communal areas like kitchens and washrooms are typically included in routine cleaning schedules and therefore receive more attention. Desk cleanliness however is easily neglected, particularly if left to individuals. The average desk is 400 times dirtier than a toilet seat, yet there remains a culture of eating at desks.
Almost a third of UK workers and over half of Americans admit to eating lunch at their desks. Not taking a lunch break, or eating while still working, has a negative effect on worker’s mental wellbeing and exposes them to germs like Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus.
The telephone harbours 25,127 germs per square inch, this being 760 per cent more than the keyboard which has 3,295 germs per square inch. The mouse is the cleanest with 1,676 germs per square inch.
Over half of workers don’t wash their hands properly
It’s not just workplace hygiene that puts staff at risk. Just 61 per cent of both UK and American employees wash their hands properly after visiting the toilet. Research of UK workers found that 18 per cent wash their hands quickly, 14 per cent decide when to wash their hands after going to the bathroom, and 7 per cent admit to not washing their hands at all.
Given the renewed focus on hygiene in light of the coronavirus outbreak, we expect to see an increase in the number of people washing their hands thoroughly. The challenge for businesses however will be in maintaining these practices once the current crisis passes.
Cleanliness is not just a Health & Safety issue
While office cleanliness falls under Health & Safety regulations, it must also become part of the wider office culture. Netflix for instance looks for people who share their values, one of which is responsibility. “Picks up trash lying on the floor” is included in their employee handbook as a quality they look for in a ‘responsible person’, along with “Never feels that’s not my job”.
At Borg & Overström we are committed to providing a safe and pleasant working environment. We recognise that successful Health & Safety management, including how clean our office is, can only be achieved with the support and commitment of our staff. We actively encourage the team to take ownership of the office environment and empower them to assist their colleagues in maintaining high standards.
Clean, comfortable and secure workplaces are basic needs
Cleanliness, comfort of working area, lighting and air quality are among the most important factors for European office workers. Cleanliness in the workplace is considered to be the most important factor by 88 per cent of workers.
When it comes to how clean your office is compliance with Health & Safety legislation should be the minimum acceptable standard. A clean office is not only essential for ensuring staff are kept healthy, but it’s also what employees expect and want from employers.
Next time you step over that box (again) or have to rearrange objects on your desk to answer the phone, take a hard look at the office environment. Is it still as clean and tidy as you thought?