In the past during cold and flu season, it was sometimes stated that there was a bug going around the office. Times have changed and the concerns have become solemn. There are important yet common sense steps that can help you protect your workplace now and for the future.
A Hand Out
From an infected person's hand, viruses or bacteria spread to computer keyboards, light switches, doorknobs, the break room refrigerator and microwave, and lots of other surfaces. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using hand sanitizer as a simple and effective way to help break the chain of transmission. Wall-mounted dispensers — touchless models in particular — can go anywhere you have a wall, a corner or a sturdy cubicle. Free-standing dispensers are affordable and can suit large, open spaces such as foyers or reception areas. Consider keeping a supply of individual bottles on hand for any odd locations where a dispenser won't fit.
Work Up a Lather
Hand sanitizers work well as a complement to hand washing, but not as an outright substitution. The skin's natural oils, grease from food, and soil or residues from tools or office equipment can all provide hiding places for bacteria or viruses. Scrubbing with plenty of hot, soapy water removes those havens from the skin, as well as the pathogens themselves. Your local health authority may be able to provide printed or downloadable posters to go alongside your washroom sinks, explaining the correct procedure for hand washing. Proper hygiene requires 20 seconds of scrubbing, which is longer than you might think. Consider investing in a hand soap that won't dry your staffers' skin.
Wipe 'Em Away
Lavish use of sanitizer and hand soap go a long way towards keeping your office healthy, but those hands only stay clean until they touch something. To keep the most-used surfaces in your office sanitary, stock up on disinfectant wipes and hand them out liberally. Any surfaces that are handled frequently — phones, computers, doorknobs, light switches and anything in the break room — should be wiped down often. If you're diligent about cleaning both surfaces and hands, it's much more difficult for the flu, colds or other nastiness to spread throughout the office.
The Airborne Invasion
Although the flu and cold viruses can live on surfaces for long enough to be inconvenient, they're most dangerous when airborne. Coughing and sneezing expel the virus into the surrounding air, and your own ventilation system spreads it from there. A plentiful supply of facial tissue is a simple, low-tech response to this problem. Try to place tissues at every workstation and everywhere your staffers congregate. It's not a foolproof solution, but it will help reduce the likelihood of illness spreading throughout your workplace.
Just Do It
The combination of tissues, sanitizer, soap and disinfecting wipes can help reduce the impact on your productivity, but only if — and it's a big if — they're used properly. Use these products repeatedly everyday. Don’t let up after the newness has worn off. Continue the fight to beat the bug.
With a background in technology, business and personal finance, and B2B sales, Fred Decker has over eight years of experience writing on a broad range of business topics. He’s been featured in top publications including the Houston Chronicle.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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