We spend so much of our time in the office that it should come as no surprise that it’s one of the places where we are most likely to fall sick. For the sake of your health (and your fellow colleagues), find out where are the bacteria hotspots around the office and quit doing these 11 common unhygienic habits at work.
Leaving food containers open in the office fridge
This might sound like a no-brainer, but amid work distractions, you might sometimes forget to seal (not just cover) your food container. From airborne bacteria to cross contamination, leaving food open without a seal or in a container can be very harmful, especially when you’re sharing the fridge with all of your colleagues.
Also, make sure to label your items properly so people don’t use your items by mistake, and throw out anything that’s expired (don’t just leave it to the cleaning aunties!).
Resting your face on your hands
This one’s for those of us who have a habit of resting or leaning your face on your hands or cupping your face as you work. Just think about it: How many different parts of the office do you come into contact with every day? From door handles to files and folders to the shared pantry space, every surface contains bacteria that you unwittingly transfer to your face each time you touch it. This can lead to breakouts and spreads bacteria easily.
Make it a point to sit up straight so you’re less inclined to lean forwards, or place a mirror in front of you so you’ll be more aware each time you touch your face.
Bringing your phone to the toilet
Bringing your phone to the toilet seems like a good idea (especially if you’re doing a number two), but you risk exposing yourself to faecal matter as well as germs like salmonella E. coli all the same. Unless your phone is kept in your pocket or handbag at all times, even leaving it exposed on a ledge can be dangerous, especially if you handle it after touching the flush and door lock.
It’s best not to place your phone on the toilet roll holder or any other surface, and to keep it in your pocket or bag at all times.
Eating food left out for too long
Cooked food should be consumed within four hours of being cooked. So if you’re thinking of finishing that leftover pizza from lunch, perhaps it’s wise not to.
Instead, keep leftover food in a safe container and put it in the office fridge to prevent bacteria from multiplying quickly.
Forgetting to wash your mug or pitcher
Most of us own some kind of water jug or mug that we use regularly. But how often do we bring these items to the pantry for a soap and rinse? Bacteria thrives in water, so it’s wise to wash your daily mug or cup with soap and water each time you use it, and your water pitcher at least once a week. To really kill germs, consider rinsing with hot water that will help sanitise even further.
Also, be sure to dry out your sponges properly and replace them as often as possible as damp sponges harbour some serious illness-causing germs – we’re not kidding!
Making a mess of the microwave
We’ve seen some pretty nasty office microwave ovens that look like they haven’t been cleaned for months, judging by the buildup of crusty dried-up sauces and grease stains. But that’s not all – the microwave door handle and buttons are all prime breeding grounds for bacteria, especially if people didn’t wash their hands before touching them.
To prevent splattering, always cover your containers with paper towels or use containers with lids with a vent that allow steam to escape. You should also wipe away any spills and splatters after each use as an act of courtesy to the next person.
Not turning your keyboard over
Food particles like crumbs from that bag of chips you’ve been snacking on, to dirt and dust, can easily get trapped in the crevices between the keys of your keyboard.
Do yourself a favour and turn the keyboard give it a good shake. Alternatively, get yourself a brush or a can of compressed air to help clean out your keyboard more thoroughly.
Going to work while sick
You might see it as a badge of honour to head to work while nursing a cold but spare a thought for your colleagues and take a sick day.
Not only will you not infect them with your virus, you’ll probably get well faster too!
Holding in your pee to rush out a deadline
Holding in your pee for prolonged periods of time can cause urinary tract infections and make your body feel like it has to go more often, a condition also known as overactive bladder. That five-minute walk to and from the toilet can help clear your head a bit and help you feel more focused when you’re return to your seat.
Eating at your desk
Your brain, eyes and back need a break from your office computer and chair so it’s better to grab a quick lunch instead of eating it at your office desk. Plus, you’ll make less of a mess on your table.
Not cleaning your desk often
Plenty of research has shown that the average office desk is a lot dirtier than a toilet bowl.
That’s because a toilet bowl is more regularly cleaned. After all, it is where waste matters end up so a more conscious effort is made to clean it compared to an office desk.
Try to wipe down your keyboard, telephone and mouse at least once a week (the ideal number of times is twice a week) with a sanitising spray or wet wipes. You can get cleaning kits from places like Horme, Stationery World and Challenger.
Text: Elizabeth Liew & Atika Lim / The Singapore Women’s Weekly / February 2020
Images: Pixabay, Pexels