For so many people in business right now, times are tough and cutbacks need to be made. Many people consider reducing the number of hours their cleaner comes in, or cutting out the contracted cleaning altogether and attempting to do it themselves.
Before you reach for the phone to cancel that contract, remember that as you do, thousands of bacteria are transferring themselves to your hand. Then they travel from your hand to that of your next visitor, then to your keyboard, coffee cup, door handles – basically anything you touch. It’s not nice to think about, but this is our reality. This is how germs spread.
It might well be that in fact, you can’t afford to make that call . . .
A Shocking Fact
A study by the University of Arizona found that office toilets were more often than not cleaner than the desks and that office desks harbour nearly 400 times more microbes than the lavatory seat. The phone is the main offender, often housing up to 25,127 microbes per square inch. The keyboard is next with 3,295 and the mouse 1,676. The average toilet seat contains only 49 microbes per square inch. It’s important for us to be aware that these items in our office do harbour germs.
Our work stations are among the grimiest things we come into contact with and that’s without mentioning all of the communal areas in offices where germs can run rife, like books and files, the photo-copier, fax and microwave. These areas act as super-corridors for the spread of germs – which can ultimately lead to your staff becoming ill. This in turn reduces your productivity.
How Strong is the Cold and Flu Virus?
Did you know that cold and flu viruses can live for 72 hours on our office surfaces? Bacteria levels rise throughout the working day and reach a peak just after lunch as microbes start to multiply on those spilled crumbs and coffee stains.
Beware of Presenteeism
When your employees turn up for work looking like death warmed up and determined to impress you by coming in, they are in fact walking incubators of germs that are just waiting to infect the rest of your staff. In a few days your office will look like the Marie Celeste as everyone succumbs to a virus that could have been contained if they’d just stayed at home until they were recovered. Damage limitation.
Introduce Good Habits
It might be unethical to start spot-checking which deodorant they use or asking at interview how many times a week they shower. But you can issue them with anti-bacterial wipes and ask that they wipe down their desks and equipment regularly. You can put up posters in the toilets to show how to thoroughly clean hands. You can also issue hand-sanitizer and limit the amount of personal items staff are allowed on their desks. All their photos, teddy-bears and other paraphernalia may make them feel at home, but they’ll be making lots of microbes feel at home too.
The Arizonian study that deemed our desks dirtier than our toilets also found that regular cleaning of office surfaces and equipment reduced the levels of germ infestation by 99%. So instead of our cleaning companies being a drain on our stretched resources, they’re actually our first line of defense in keeping our staff healthy, our environment hygienic and our business running smoothly.
The next time you think you can make savings by doing your own cleaning, I’d think again. It’s easy for the cleaning to remain on the bottom of your priority list, when you’ve got so much else on your plate and most people don’t realize the additional problems they can be causing themselves by not staying on top of it. At least with a cleaning company coming in, you can relax about it, take it off your to do list, have peace of mind knowing that it’s being done properly and regularly – then sit back and watch your sickness levels improve and your productivity increase. You’ll make far more money that you spend on cleaning.