The flu infects anywhere from 9.3 million to 49 million people every year.
The difference between 5% of people getting sick versus 20% largely depends on how well people prevent the spread of germs.
Unfortunately, part of this strategy relies on people staying home when they’re sick. And even if they do, the flu can start spreading a day before making someone ill.
However, you can do your best avoiding the flu by keeping shared spaces clean. Keep reading to find out the 5 office items you need to disinfect now.
1. Avoiding the Flu Requires Proper Hand Washing
The first office item that needs disinfecting is your hands.
One study claimed that when most people wash their hands, they only do it for 6 seconds. This is 14 seconds short of what the CDC and other health organizations claim to be effective in killing germs.
So, as a much-needed update, here are the steps to make sure you get the cooties off of you:
- Wet your hands with warm water
- Apply enough soap to cover your hands completely and lather
- Scrub all surfaces, including palms, fingers, between fingers, back of hand, and fingernails
- Scrub for 20 seconds, or long enough to sing “happy birthday” or “twinkle twinkle” two times
- Rinse hands with warm water
- Turn off water with a paper towel
- Dry hands with a paper towel
- Throw paper towel into a no-touch trash can
- Open the door with another paper towel to exit the washroom
It seems easy enough, but statistically, most of us aren’t doing it properly.
On the same note, don’t substitute hand sanitizer (alcohol) for handwashing. It’s meant to be used only when you can’t immediately wash your hands.
Also, you’re supposed to let it dry on your hands. Don’t wipe it off.
You should clean your hands frequently, and even more so during flu season. It’s the best preventative measure.
2. Clean the First Thing Everyone Touches
Entering the office, the first thing people touch is the door handle. One of the best flu precautions (aside from handwashing) is to give the door handle a good wipe down daily.
If you or others touch the door frame or door itself while opening it, clean that as well.
If your office uses an elevator, consider adding the buttons to the daily cleaning list.
Studies show that germs on a doorknob can spread throughout the entire office in a matter of hours.
Before you freak out and start online shopping for a hazmat suit, you should know that if everyone washes their hands properly, it can reduce spreading the virus by 80-90%.
3. Attack the Breakroom
Once the germs are on the door handle, the first place they travel is to the breakroom.
Think of all the things you touch every day, starting with the coffee pot, water dispenser, microwave, counters, tables, and fridge handle.
If there’s another appliance your team uses often, give that a good cleaning, too.
To tackle this shared space, suggest to your office that everyone should take turns cleaning the room.
Keeping the breakroom clean not only keeps the team healthy—it boosts overall productivity and efficiency. Bonus!
Also, if you don’t already, it would be a smart idea to bring your own plates, bowls, and other needed kitchen utensils. Wash them after you use them and bring them back to your desk.
4. Speaking of Your Desk…
Clean the surfaces of your workspace, along with your keyboard, mouse, telephone, and other equipment that you use often.
Refrain from borrowing any supplies or items from co-workers, such as pens, staplers, or paper. It may seem extreme, but people get sick from fallen cough or sneeze droplets settling onto items that we handle.
Then, because we touch our noses, mouths, and eyes an average of 16 times an hour, we may become infected.
5. Keeping Germ Copies Off of the Copier
The final major important item on our list is office equipment. This may be a communal printer, copier, or fax machine.
You don’t want to cause damage to the machines while cleaning, but you also don’t want flu germs collecting there.
If at the copier or your desk, you keep hearing someone cough, sneeze, or sniffle, kindly encourage them to talk to the manager about going home. If you are the manager or boss, gently tell sick employees to go home and rest.
Speaking up and holding ourselves accountable when sick is one of the best ways to create a healthier work environment.
Keep Your Priorities Straight
As you can see from the list, there’s a lot of places to keep clean and sterile. It may seem overwhelming.
If you delegate responsibility, it won’t take up a lot of one person’s time. For daily tasks, assign different team members to complete and sign off on different areas of the office.
Pro Flu Tips
In addition to each person’s daily cleaning, you should encourage all employees to take care of themselves as much as possible. This means eating well, taking vitamins, and exercising to build a strong immune system.
During flu season, it’s also beneficial to declutter the office, giving every item a “home”. If you do this, there will be fewer surfaces for germs to live on.
After you declutter, let us come in and clean up those neglected areas where the misplaced items have been.
Stay Healthy and Stay Flu-Free
Avoiding the flu can be as easy as washing your hands often and keeping commonly touched items clean.
You can step up your cootie-free game by avoiding handshakes, too.
We wish you the best during this flu season. Keep reading our blog for more ways to keep your office healthy and productive.