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Office workers ‘becoming germphobic’

Posted on: Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Office workers are growing increasingly germaphobic, new research suggests.

A study unveiled by Kimberly–Clark Professional revealed that two in five office workers have used another part of their body to exit the toilets at work to avoid getting germs from colleagues on their hands.

It found that most people who use another body part to open the toilet door at work used their elbows (57 per cent), while using a single finger or a foot (both 29 per cent) were equally the second most used methods.

Some 303 workers were polled for the study and showed that other respondents admitted using their bottoms, shoulders and knees.

One of the main reasons that workers are going to such lengths to avoid touching the bathroom doors is because they suspect their colleagues neglect to wash their hands when they use the toilet.

Speaking about the findings, Suzanne Halley, segment marketing manager at Kimberly-Clark Professional, said: “Our research shows that the presence of germs in the workplace is a significant concern for office workers, and that many go to great lengths to avoid getting harmful bacteria on their hands. Fortunately there are some straightforward steps companies can take to create an environment in which people will be focusing on business rather than the risk of catching illnesses. 

"Raising awareness about hygiene in the workplace is critical and we can help support this by encouraging employees to wash and dry their hands regularly and keep their workspace clean.”

Over half (56 per cent) of workers said they do not think their colleagues wash their hands, and 72 per cent believed that if their colleagues didn’t wash their hands routinely at work, it could cause them harm.

Unsurprisingly, when asked where they believed the most germs would be discovered, 78 per cent cited the office toilets, with 69 per cent mentioned toilet door handles.

When asked about the standards they would expect at the facilities in their workplace, a clean, hygienic washroom with fully stocked dispensers is a minimum expectation.

There may even be some evidence that clean office facilities may help to boost morale, with many workers stating that their office washroom facility says how much their company values them.

According to the study, the vast majority (73 per cent) of people in the business community believe a bad toilet environment indicates poor overall management. 

Suzanne Halley added: “Businesses that respond to employees’ concerns about germs and washroom standards, and implement the types of measures needed, including educating staff on hand hygiene and providing the right hygiene products for people to use, will be rewarded with a happier, more engaged and more productive workforce.”