With more and more people returning to a central place of work, employers have implemented regular and intense cleaning regimes to prevent the spread of germs and to keep staff and customers safe.
And with hygiene being a top priority for organisations, the website Digital ID conducted an experiment into the top office bacteria hotspots that employees should avoid.
Between July 1 and 15, Digital ID took a range of swabs from frequently used office items to see how much bacteria was found, despite regular cleaning of the facilities.
According to the experiment, door handles, stationery and telephones were among the worst offenders for collecting bacteria and microbes.
For example, door handles are a common touchpoint in the workplace and given that they are shared by many people, the site explained that precautions should be taken.
Particularly for door handles that are made of stainless steel, the study said that germs can survive on the metal surface for longer – weeks in some cases.
Elsewhere, the study looked into office phones and found that they were full of bacteria – likely because phones come into close contact with a person’s mouth and ears.
Keyboard and mouse, fridge, kettle and ear pods were also among the top office bacteria hotspots to avoid.
While the study noted that not all bacteria is harmful, the findings shone a light on the importance of good workplace cleaning practices to keep the whole workforce safe.
‘Smartphones are a reservoir for germs’
In addition, a university professor has warned that smartphone hygiene should be a key consideration for employers when returning to work.
Dr Simon Clarke, Associate Professor in Cellular Microbiology at the University of Reading previously told UK Tech News that smartphone usage and storage should be considered upon the return to work to ensure health and safety.
“Smartphones are a reservoir for germs and have the potential to spread pathogens, such as the virus that causes COVID-19,” said Dr. Clarke.
“We use them constantly, touch them with our hands and put them near our faces. When you cough or sneeze, droplets transfer to your phone – directly, or from your hands if they’ve been used as a shield.
“The hand-washing message has really landed, but the minute you take your phone out of your pocket or bag, your hands are no longer clean. Improving and introducing new hygiene standards for all employees as we begin to return to the workplace is key,” he added.
When in the office, practising good office hygiene is one of the most effective ways to stay safe upon the return to work.
Phil Day, Superintendent Pharmacist at Pharmacy2U previously told the Yorkshire Post, that employers should have extra cleaning and hygiene measures in place.
In addition to that, Day said that employees should regularly disinfect their desk and any other things they use in the office such as phones, keyboards and a computer mouse.
“If you need to sneeze, make sure to do it into the crook of your arm or into a tissue – and place any used tissues straight into a closed waste bin.
“I’d also recommend that you don’t touch your face, and wash your hands regularly, especially when you first enter the building. If you can open the windows in your office, that can help to let fresh air circulate too,” he added.