According to Mirror Online, Viking Direct, a research firm based in the UK, carried out an experiment to discover the extent of germ infestation in offices. Researchers swiped cotton swabs across a variety of typical office supplies to obtain samples.
Among the items sampled were computer keyboards, mice, photocopiers, and chewed pencils/pens. The swabs were then wiped into petri dishes to test their bacteria levels. The results, while expected, were disturbing enough to make one reconsider their white-collar career choice.
Not surprisingly, the chewed writing utensils were off-the-charts when it came to germ content. However, following closely behind were computer mice, which employees rarely tend to clean, despite the amount of germs their hands can gather throughout the course of a work day.
“We found that most areas in our office were technically dirty and that some places should probably be cleaned on a more regular basis,” the researchers said in the report.
Essentially every part of the offices tested were considered to be health risks and in need of cleaning. A major source of germs in an office is the carpet, which experts say can carry more bacteria as walking traffic increases. Employers are recommended to bring in professional carpet cleaners at least once a year to avoid germ build-up.
Dirty carpets and computer mouses are often caused by employees who refuse to take a sick day. According to the Huffington Post, researchers at the University of East Anglia recently looked into the growing trend of “presenteeism” in the workplace, which is the act of attending work despite feeling under the weather.
Researchers found that increased job demands, understaffing, time constraints, and financial difficulties were the main factors in widespread presenteeism. Mariella Maraglia, a lead researcher in the study, says that the solutions have to come from employers who dictate these unfair working conditions.
“Although increasing job resources, such as job control and colleague, supervisor, and organizational support, can be helpful in tackling presenteeism through their positive impact on health, our results suggest that controlling job demands represents a key line of defense against the behavior,” Maraglia said.
In the meantime, employees are strongly urged to wash their hands at work and get the flu shot. Also, avoid writing with chewed-up pencils at all costs, especially if they’re not your own.