According to the findings of a new survey by GCC Facilities Management — a commercial cleaning services company in the United Kingdom — office parks and facilities are downright filthy. The 650-person study found out how often workspaces are cleaned.
One of the most interesting takeaways found that in communal kitchenware, people tend to stay away. If you’ve ever wondered just how clean those utensils are, perhaps it’s better to bring your own from home. More than one-third of workers surveyed say they avoid communal kitchenware because they fear these items are not clean.
Regarding cleanliness in general, only about a quarter of the respondents say they have used personal cleaning supplies in the office to maintain cleanliness. Perhaps not surprisingly, only 35% of respondents said their desk is cleaned daily. More than 30% of respondents said their keyboard is not cleaned at all (which may be a personal responsibility), and 36% said their computer mouse is not cleaned.
Their telephones are no different. More than a quarter (28%) of respondents said they’d never cleaned their phone, despite it harboring 760% more bacteria than the keyboard and being the dirtiest item surveyed.
Other than the phone, perhaps the dirtiest place in the office is your desk. Researchers found the office desk is 400% more unhygienic than a toilet.
Of the respondents to answer, 35% of workers said their desk is cleaned every day; 28% did so weekly, but individual desk items are often the most neglected for cleanliness. Researchers also found that only 9% of surveyed employees cleaned their desk monthly; 11% didn’t clean it at all. This can lead to the harboring of Heterotrophic bacteria, E. coli, Helicobacter pylori, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus aureus.
Individual desktop items like the mouse and keyboard were not cleaned with much frequency either. Thirty-seven percent said they mouse was never cleaned; 31% said their keyboards are never cleaned. Twenty-eight percent didn’t answer the call to clean their desk phones.
This might be slightly important to an employee’s overall health, researchers said, because they can harbor up to 25,127 germs per square inch, or more than 3,295 grams per square inch.
Ironically, the mouse was the cleanest of all three items with 1,676 germs per square inch.
Surprisingly, toilets were considered the cleanest of all apparatuses.
Other than what people considered to be dirty kitchenware, the kitchens themselves did OK, with 38% of respondents saying they were satisfied with the upkeep. The fridge scored 37% on satisfaction.
“The findings show that desk cleanliness is easily neglected, despite the health risks that it carries and the knock-on effects it could have for businesses in terms of sickness, reduced capacity, and absences,” researchers said. “More needs to be done to raise awareness of the health risks that dirtier working surfaces can have amongst office workers, and businesses should take more action to ensure that their staff is working in a clean and healthy environment.”
As may be obvious but overlooked is that surfaces and equipment can harbor dirt, viruses, and bacteria, which can remain active for months. Thus, regular cleaning is required, as is good personal hygiene, like handwashing. Otherwise, surface germs transfer throughout the environment.