We’re right in the middle of cold and flu season. And even if you haven’t caught the bug yet, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Germs are all around us, especially at work. Did you know that office phones have an average of 25,127 germs per square inch? With that in mind, there are plenty of ways to avoid catching a cold or the flu from your co-workers.
Clean, Clean, Clean
One of the best defenses against germs is to clean regularly. Using disinfectants can go a long way when it comes to killing germs. So you should give your workspace a thorough wipe-down at least once a day. This is especially important if you share items with other people in the office. And while things like leather furniture should be conditioned every six months or so, furniture should not only be maintained but cleaned regularly. Chairs and couches should be wiped down as best as possible. Additionally, any communal spaces in the office should be disinfected as often as possible — coffee makers, light switches, countertops… if it was touched by more than one person, it should be cleaned. So while it may take a bit of extra time to wipe down communal surfaces, you’ll be grateful when you avoid catching whatever your sick coworkers have.
Take Care of Yourself
During this time of the year, people are often focused on keeping their surroundings clean and avoiding sick people. Unfortunately, this won’t be enough if you don’t look after your health. If your body is tired and weak, it’s not going to be able to fight off any germs you come into contact with. So make sure you’re getting plenty of rest and eating healthy foods. In fact, you should make it a habit to only eat healthy foods while at work to double up on your defenses. And if you’ve been waiting for the right time to start exercise, now is a great time. With the average U.S. home having 300,000 things in it, you should consider adding some exercise equipment to your list of belongings. Exercising regularly can help give your body the strength it needs during this sickly time of the year. Remember, taking care of your health is just as important as cleaning your surroundings.
Be Mindful of the Air
Germs don’t just travel on hard surfaces — they fill the air as well. This means when you sick coworker refuses to stay home and is sneezing all over the office, they’re quickly spreading germs. And while you may want to walk around in a cloud of disinfectant spray all day, that’s not practical or good for your lungs. So instead, you should think about a few ways to clean the air in the office — literally. Air purifiers are a great investment, and you can even keep one right at your desk, as long as it’s okay with your boss. Other options include diffusers, which can emit purifying components into the air. And if possible, talk to your boss about getting the building’s ductwork cleaned. While this may seem a little over the top, germs can continuously be circulated throughout the office through the HVAC system. And as an added bonus, productivity among employees may increase. The National Center for Biotechnology Information found that improving indoor air quality can help increase workplace performance and productivity by 6% to 9%. All in all, be mindful of how clean the air you’re breathing in is.
Unfortunately, you can’t force your coworkers to stay home when they’re experiencing symptoms like a sore throat or make them cover their mouths when they sneeze. And truth be told, your car is consistently dirtier than your home, having 17,000 times more bacteria. But if you follow these simple tips, you may have a good chance of avoiding getting sick.