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Doesn’t it seem that all it takes is for one person in the office to come in sick and suddenly the dominos begin to fall and everyone else in the office is following suit? Staying healthy in the office around flu season is nearly impossible (even though I somehow managed to avoid catching the flu this year…except I just sealed my fate with that comment). So what aspects of the office are the most susceptible to spreading germs and ultimately getting employees sick?

Telephone

I never even imagined the office phone to be loaded with germs. Charles Gerba, a professor of Microbiology at the University of Arizona states that the phone in an office has more bacteria than a toilet seat. WHAT?! How can a toilet seat possibly have fewer germs than a phone? According to Gerba, a toilet seat is frequently wiped down, where as an office phone is virtually never cleaned.

Keyboard

This one makes more sense to me. I realistically only wipe my keyboard down when the surface is sticky, when in actuality, you are transferring germs to your keyboard every time you touch something else between keystrokes. If you are like me, a 9 to 5 office cubicle dweller, often times you eat your lunch at your desk. Eating on a contaminated work surface can put you at risk of transferring bacteria via your food.

Buttons

The printer, the fax, elevator buttons, light switches, coffee maker: they all can be loaded with germs. Areas of high traffic, such as a printer, are constantly being touched by everyone around the office. Who knows if they washed their hands and have scarlet fever? (Yes this still exists).

Break Rooms

The break room is the mecca of office germs. Why? Because typically the employees are somewhat responsible for cleaning up after themselves, and we all know how that goes. How can we expect individuals who can barely make their trash into a trash can to do a sufficient enough job cleaning up after themselves? The break room is swarming with bacteria from old foods (as long as there are office refrigerators, month old sandwiches will have a home).

Remedies  

Yes there are bacteria everywhere and quite frankly there is only so much one person can do to avoid it. Wipe down work surfaces and work materials with a disinfectant at least weekly to avoid a buildup of germs. Create an office cleaning schedule where common touch points are disinfected. And of course, the easiest method of all, wash your hands frequently.