Thought Leaders: The Dirtiest Places in the Office

By Pete Gazlay - Total Facility Care — 

As Covid-19 infection rates fall again, workers are trickling back to the office at the highest rate since the pandemic began. With the rise of vaccination rates, office-building use has been slowly rising after most businesses required employees to return at least part of the week. In other cases, workers are returning voluntarily with summer vacations over and their children back in school.

Last month, The Adecco Group staffing agency released an international study about mental health in the workplace. It found that 49% of leaders and 42% of non-managers said they have felt, or are feeling, anxiety about returning to shared office spaces, as shared spaces often equated to the dirtiest places in the workplace.

When you think about these shared office spaces aka the spaces that contain the most dust, germs, and bacteria, doorknobs and door handles should come to mind. Research has shown that these surfaces hold the largest number of bacteria- 30 times more than toilet seats in the office restroom. The research tested several areas of a busy office to determine the amount of relative light units (RLU) they contained, which is directly correlated with the number of bacteria and other contaminants in the area. The door handle to the main office door had a reading of 648 RLU. In comparison, a toilet seat produced a result of just 21 RLU. The remaining top germy office areas are staff member shared mobile phones, breakroom coffee pots, restroom sinks, office chairs, the breakroom refrigerator, and desk phones.

The best way to help your employees feel comfortable returning to the office is to make sure your cleaning scope of work covers the most common, dirtiest areas. In shared areas have wipes or other cleaning supplies readily available for your team so employees can disinfect often-touched surfaces throughout the day. And do not forget to promote handwashing. Handwashing is the simplest and single most important self-protection you can take. If an employee is sick, they should stay home even if it’s a minor cold. The days of powering through in person are over for now.

We can expect an even larger surge in office workers returning to the office for the rest of 2021 and well into 2022. As workers prepare to return to the office, many with a feeling of trepidation, employers must work hard to maintain hygiene and employees should be extra careful. Your employees want to come back to a different type of office- one that is demonstrably clean and safe, which is our expertise at Total Facility Care.