Cold and flu season really puts a cramp in our style, sometimes for months on end. We all seem to dread that time each year when the office seems to be a revolving door of absent workers home sick with whatever new is going around.
Worse yet, those of us with children are either passing colds from work on to the kids, or vice versa. We clean and clean and clean, sanitize and wash our hands, nag at our children to cover their mouths and wash their hands, yet we seem to lose the cold and flu battle every year. What else can we really do?
The importance of being clean does not stop at the front door, no matter if it’s at home or the office. While we’re all so focused with keeping our homes clean and sanitary, we may not take much time to think about office cleaning. Most of us just assume the office is as clean as it can be, especially when we come in the morning and see evidence of the cleaning crew from the night before.
A clean workplace is just as important as a clean home, especially considering the amount of time we spend there. Our homes may be rock solid in the sanitary department, but if we aren’t keeping our work spaces as clean, we get sick, miss out on work, and become less productive. As the revolving door of absenteeism continues, the overall productivity of the office takes a nosedive as key people are all absent at different times.
Because most workplaces are shared facilities, the collective responsibility to keep the office clean gets taken for granted all the time. But what should not be overlooked is each person’s responsibility to provide a clean, organized environment not just for themselves, but for their coworkers too. It’s not just up to the nightly cleaning crew to keep your workplace in tip top shape.
Keeping the workplace clean and tidy is important on two levels, both of which directly translate into a high productivity environment. A consistently clean office is the first defense against illness and respiratory issues. One of the biggest enemies of a highly productive office is the on and off absenteeism throughout the year caused by virus and bacteria hanging out and spreading on surfaces.
A work environment where things are easy to find and everything is put in its place neatly, is a work environment that lowers stress.Organization and cleanliness allows employees to take a breath, and relax, knowing that everything they need is easily accessible.
Not many people can sit in a cluttered office and feel completely relaxed. Most of us need at least a small amount of physical order to help us feel that our own lives, or even just the work day, is in order. A clean environment lowers absenteeism and also promotes organization. The result of organization and low absenteeism promotes productivity!
So, what can you do to contribute in keeping the office germ-free as possible?
Let’s start with your desk. Clean your desk and keep it that way will increase your attendance rate and your productivity in no time. Wipe your cubicle, desk, or office down every day, before you start working. Or, if you prefer, do it at the end of the work day.
Bacteria and viruses can live for some time on keyboards, desk surfaces, and chairs. Anyone working with you who may touch any part of your desk can be indirectly exposed to germs. If each employee wipes down his/her desk daily, the number of absences due to sickness will surely start to decline.
Desks aren’t the only places you should be concerned about when working to avoid the common cold or other nasty virus. Make sure the door knobs, railings and doors are getting a regular wipe down. If you’re not sure it’s getting the proper attention, you may be able to coordinate with your office to create a scheduled employee rotation that changes on a daily basis.
Bathrooms are ground zero for the spreading of germs because it comes into contact with so many different people throughout the day. Even when all employees are washing hands, germs can be left to fester on door knobs, toilet paper holders, faucets, and the like. Washing your hands and using a paper towel to turn off the water or open the door is a good way to prevent picking up new germs on your clean hands.
Indoor air pollution is a big concern for staying healthy in the workplace. Although you may not be able to directly control this factor yourself, you can do what you can to avoid aggravation caused by the indoor environment. Avoid sitting near a vent where air circulation is at its peak. Cover your mouth adequately when sneezing and coughing. Ask the building management to make sure the vents are regularly cleaned.
Keeping dust down to a minimum will help greatly in keeping allergen levels low. This is particularly helpful for those suffering from asthma or other respiratory conditions. Cleaning crews are often prohibited from cleaning work areas. So it’s your job to make sure your area is well dusted, including the tops of cubicles and desks, plants, lamps, frames, posters, binders, bookshelves, etc.
A clean office is not just a healthy office.It’s a productive office too. Cleanliness means reducing clutter and getting more organized. How else are we going to wipe down our desks if there’s clutter all over it? Through the process of removing unnecessary items, you may naturally start organizing the items you actually need.
Getting the office from where it is now to a highly functioning, productive machine won’t happen overnight. Cleanliness must lead to less sickness and more organization, which may take a while. But when it does, it won’t just be noticed on an individual level. Increased productivity will create an overall uptick in operational tempo as less people need to call in sick to work, and more people get more things done in less time… thanks to a clean, organized office.