Feb 2, 2018

Beat the 2018 Flu by Disinfecting These Unexpected Office Items

How Fast Can the Flu Spread in an Office?

The 2017-2018 flu season is the most widespread since the Center for Disease Control began tracking it. This year, getting a flu shot isn't enough—you and your workplace need to take extra precautions.

People know that disinfecting and sanitizing surfaces kills the germs that make you sick. But do you know how fast viruses spread throughout an office?

Researches at University of Arizona wanted to know how much one person could spread the cold or flu. To find out, they sprayed one office worker with "artificial viruses mimicking the cold, the flu and a stomach bug" and several other workers with water.

In just 4 hours, over 50% of the people and surfaces in the office were infected with one or more of the viruses.

The researchers also noted that the 80+ office workers didn't walk around or change work stations very much. They mostly sat at their individual cubicles. It's likely even more surfaces would be contaminated in a workplace where employees switch between workstations.

Stategic Disinfection: What Do You Touch Everyday?

It is unrealistic to sterilize or even sanitize every office surface, but by sanitizing or disinfecting commonly touched surfaces, you can significantly decrease the chances of illness spreading in your office.

This isn't as hard or time consuming as it sounds. I applied EfferSan to a microfiber cloth, wiped down the items marked with a * below in our office area. 12 minutes later, DONE.

To get specific, that's 20 chair arms, 7 light switches, 8 door handles, 1 water cooler, thermostat, coffee maker, microwave, and toaster. (I cleaned off any food remnants from the coffee maker and microwave before disinfecting.) Plus my personal keyboard and trackpad.

Disinfect these Commonly Touched Surfaces Daily

  • Stairwell Rails
  • Light Switches*
  • Phones
  • Water Fountains
  • Buttons (Elevator, Copy Machines*, Intercoms, and Microwave*)
  • Remotes
  • Handles (Door, Cabinet, and Refrigerator)*
  • Keyboards, Mouses, & Trackpads

Often Overlooked Surfaces to Disinfect

  • Chair Arms*
  • Water Cooler Buttons*
  • Coffee Maker Handle*
  • Cabinet doors*
  • Thermostats*
  • Pens and Staplers

In my short office test, I focused on the places I knew people touched: handles, buttons, door knobs, etc. But it's not enough to sanitize these surfaces once.

Frequency is key.

To encourage more frequent sanitizing, we moved the bottle of EfferSan and a microfiber cloth to the kitchen area. (One of the most interacted with areas in our office.) Previously, we had kept all cleaning supplies in a cabinet, but placing it on the counter serves as a visual reminder.

The influenza virus can live on hard surfaces for up to 24 hours, so disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. If a worker comes down with the flu, be sure to sanitize their work station and other objects they frequently handle. And of course, let them take the day off to prevent the flu from spreading to more employees. With these preparations, you can reduce the number of employees who need sick days and increase your office's productivity.