A Clean Office Is Your Best Defense Against Employee Illness

How fast can a respiratory virus or stomach flu sweep through an office? It takes only hours. Keeping an office facility clean isn't just about picking up the trash and removing paper coffee cups from the break room. It's also about keeping employees healthy and your business functioning without interruptions due to employee illnesses and absences.

Contamination Is Quick

According to a recent study that tracked the movement of a tracer virus from one or two locations in an office to the rest of the building, it only takes 2 to 4 hours before a virus contaminates as much as 60% of the surfaces in an office.

However, simple intervention steps - like wiping surfaces daily with disinfectant wipes and encouraging clean hands among employees - reduced the spread of the virus by as much as 99%.

Employees Add To The Problem

Sometimes employees add to the problem by keeping less than sanitary work habits. Studies indicate that office workers are comfortable clipping their nails at their desks and digging through trash cans for something they've dropped or lost. 

Educating employees about how easily viruses are spread is one way to combat the problem. Office managers should encourage employees to:

  • wash hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds, especially after bathroom breaks and before and after being in the employee break room around food. 
  • use tissues if coughing or sneezing and keep tissues at all work stations.
  • use anti-bacterial gels designed to clean hands if they're unable to wash their hands right away.
  • wipe down frequently touched objects, like door handles, table tops, phone handles and printers, using disinfectant wipes.
  • stay home if they are sick so that they don't transmit the illness to other employees.

Your Janitorial Service Is Also Part Of The Solution

Your janitorial service is your partner when it comes to combating illness in the office. You can address your specific concerns about the spread of viruses to the cleaning company manager so that everyone participates in the effort to reduce viral contamination.

Specifically, you want to make sure that:

  • surfaces that are frequently touched, including door handles, light switches, telephone receivers, desk tops and chair arms, are all tended to during routine cleaning processes.
  • disinfectants are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as effective against viruses.
  • surfaces are "pre-cleaned" by wiping off any soiled areas, skin oils, or other surface dirt, before disinfectant is applied, so that the disinfectant can get to the viruses and not just the dirt.
  • cleaning staff understands the necessity of "dwell time" for their disinfectant. Every disinfectant has a specific amount of time, indicated on the label, that it has to remain on a surface in order to work properly.
  • the inside of personal trash bins, such as those kept under desks, need to be disinfected as well, so that they don't become a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria.
  • wipe the undersides of desks, which people often touch without realizing it.

Maintaining a clean office is important for aesthetics and morale, not to mention making sure clients have positive impressions when they walk through the door. However, a properly clean office is essential if you want to keep your employees healthy, despite all the viruses that run rampant every winter. Work with a cleaning staff, such as Jones Boys Maintenance Co., to establish the "best practices" for your office, and address any specific needs that have to be met.