Unclean offices ‘promote the spread of germs’

March 11th, 2013 Category: Office Cleaning

New research in the US has revealed that unclean offices can act as a harbourer of germs, allowing viruses to spread quicker and workers to fall ill far easier.

Environmental microbiologist Kelly Reynolds at the University of Arizona in America noticed that as the winter wore on more of her colleagues had started to get sick. There is a general presumption that one should stay at home if they catch a virus, but Miss Reynolds wanted to put some science behind how quickly germs can spread in close quarters such as the workspace.

Along with her colleagues, Miss Reynolds launched a study at the university involving a typical cast of winter characters: several dozen co-workers in good health and one ‘sick’ colleague carrying a virus mimicking the flu. They found that within four hours, more than 50 per cent of surfaces and employees were contaminated with the virus, highlighting the importance of regular office cleaning during the winter months.

Speaking to PBS Newshour, Miss Reynolds said: “I was very surprised at how effectively our virus spread. Because in the office building we targeted, people tended to stay in their cubicles or in their offices the majority of the day.

“There was very little social interaction. It seemed like people were very isolated in their offices. But throughout the day, everybody tended to go to the bathroom at least once and they tended to touch one of the common areas.”

Viruses are largely spread in communal areas, as well as on office items that are used often but rarely cleaned. The computer keyboard, mouse and desktop are common examples of this, but there are also less obvious places, such as the kettle or the refrigerator handle, which come into human contact several times throughout the day.

In order to mitigate the threat of widespread illness in the office, it is important that cleaning is done on a regular basis and in a professional manner. Outsourcing cleaning responsibilities is usually the best way to efficiently and cost-effectively achieve this.