The modern workplace can be a dizzying fast-paced environment where the demands of deadlines, memos, and meetings can take priority over etiquette and good manners. Dealing with the everyday pressures of the workplace can make falling into bad hygiene habits at work difficult to resists. Even though many workplaces employ or contract a professional commercial cleaning and janitorial services, employees have to keep up their end as well to keep the workplace clean, safe and hygienic.
This list collects a number of bad hygiene habits at work and ways to avoid them:
1. Poor personal hygiene
Bad hygiene habits may include sneezing without properly covering one’s face, failing to keep up personal hygiene, biting fingernails, and allowing garbage bins to overflow are more than just annoying. Rude and inconsiderate behaviour contribute to bad office hygiene, and in some instances can put employee health at risk.
2. Keeping an untidy work area
A messy desk is one of the biggest indicators of bad hygiene habits. Letting your desk or workspace become cluttered and covered in trash shows everyone about your poor hygiene. Make it a point to clear away waste, throw away or wash used coffee cups and empty wastepaper baskets. You may also consider switching to a paperless office to improve organization.
3. Eating at desk
The temptation to squeeze in a quick meal while working often gets the best of all of us, but doing so definitely ranks as a bad habit. There’s a reason so many workplaces have designated meal areas. Food particles can become lodged in office equipment like computer keyboards, promoting the spread of bacteria that can harmful to people’s health.
Touching a phone, computer mouse or keyboard and then eating spreads harmful germs. Moreover, personal work areas are not cleaned to the same standard as kitchens, where disinfectant sprays are regularly used.
4. A workplace bystander effect (or “Someone else’ll do it”-ism)
There is a strange phenomenon somewhat like the bystander effect that also affects offices and other workplaces. The bystander effect was first identified by two social psychologists who became interested in stories of onlookers refusing to help during the grisly murder of Kitty Genovese in New York in 1964.
In the bystander effect, people who witness an accident or crime in a crowded place are sometimes less likely to intervene because they believe other onlookers will help or contact the authorities. This perceived diffusion of responsibility also can take hold in communal spaces in the workplace. If cleaning up is someone else’s responsibility, why should you do it yourself?
Unfortunately, most workplaces do not have a maid or janitor on call everywhere at all times. In between a cleaning crew’s rounds, this someone else’ll do it-ism can make a workplace terribly messy! Some examples of someone else’ll do it-ism include leaving dirty dishes in the office kitchen, making a mess in the washroom, and generally not picking up after oneself. This is why it ranks as the top bad workplace hygiene habit.
5.Cleaning only the bare minimum
Only cleaning visible surfaces neglects the hidden build up of dust and dirt in other areas of the office. An express cleaning might neglect the deep cleaning of carpets and spaces under desks or behind furniture like desks and filing cabinets.
Static charges from electronic equipment like computers make plugs and wire a magnet for dust. Don’t let this neglect become a habit. It is important to schedule regular cleaning of the areas in a workplace that do not typically get attention.
6. Failing to replace sponges and cleaning cloths regularly
Sponges and dish cloths are breeding grounds for bacteria. Imagine a sponge left sitting in a sink. In that moist environment, bacteria forms and spreads easily. Bacteria will spread with every subsequent use. Experts recommend replacing sponges and cleaning cloths monthly. Both should also be soaked in a solution of water mixed with bleach or disinfectant at the end of every workday.
7. Not replacing bathroom hand towels
Linen bath towels are fine for home use with regular cleaning, but as users of the same towel multiply so too do the harmful bacteria that these towels can carry and spread. Communal towels become moist which makes them the perfect breeding ground for germs.
8. Using blow hand dryers
Controversial new studies have found that even high-end new hand dryers from name brand manufacturers actually disperse bacteria as they expel water from your hands. At the same time, it is not secret that old-school hand dryers do a terrible job of actually drying your hands.
It has been scientifically demonstrated that inadequate hand drying risks spreading disease, as wet hands are able to spread germs a thousand times more than dry hands! Though also controversial for environmental reasons, using paper hand towels significantly reduces the spread of bacteria between people.
9. Not using antibacterial cleansers
While no substitute for effective hand washing, antibacterial cleansers and gels do help to sanitize the workplace. When employers provide anti-bacterial cleansers and hand-gel dispensers, they significantly discourage the spread of germs in the work place. Even if your employer does not provide them, taking the initiative to carry anti-bacterial wipes or hand-gels to manage your work space can make a difference in keeping clean and reduce the spread of bacteria.
Bad hygiene habits at work contribute to the overall health of the people who make up the workplace. When surveyed, many workers feel that their health has been put at risk by the bad workplace hygiene habits of their coworkers. When measured in sick days resulting from the spread of disease, this can have a significant impact on a company’s productivity and morale. In addition to engaging a professional commercial cleaning company and avoiding these bad hygiene habits, companies should develop a policy on workplace hygiene that respects the rights of all workers to enjoy a safe and hygienic workplace.