According to the University of Arizona’s germ guru Dr.
Charles Gerba, desks, phones, water fountain handles, microwave door handles
and keyboards are the top five
most germ-contaminated spots
in the office.

Last year The Independent reported that the average desk harbours
400
times more bacteria
than the average toilet seat! The area where you rest
your hand on the desk has in fact around 10,000,000 bacteria! With footfall in
co-working spaces likely to be much higher than in a regular office, the germ
count is also likely to be higher.

If you own a co-working space, poor cleanliness in
co-working spaces could be putting your business at risk. If you use a
co-working space, poor office hygiene could be putting you and your co-workers
at risk of sickness. There are two layers of responsibility here. While the
buck for cleanliness ultimately stops with the owner, individuals have a responsibility
to their colleagues too.

Ultimately, it is up to the owner of the co-working space to
keep the office, toilets and kitchen hygienic, and provide guidelines for
co-workers to keep work and communal spaces tidy and clean. Co-workers
shouldn’t pass the buck and leave desks, kitchens or loos in a sorry state.

There are lots of things managers of co-working spaces and
those that use them can do to keep
workspaces more hygienic
. Here are 6 must-dos!

  1. House rules

Office owners should provide a list of clearly defined
cleanliness rules to co-workers. The problem of office hygiene in a co-working
space definitely needs management direction. Managers should place signs in the kitchen to remind workers
to wash the glasses, cups and plates they use, so that the kitchen sink isn’t
filled with dirty dishes at the end of each day. A note on the fridge should remind
people to take foodstuff and Tupperware home at the end of each week.

Communal areas, like the kitchen and toilets should be checked regularly and any issues reported. Regular professional cleaning is imperative. See more on taking care of your co-working space here.

  • Individual responsibility

Co-workers should have respect for those who will also be
using the desk space and communal facilities, and follow the cleanliness rules
to minimise the risk of germs. A courteous
workplace etiquette
will ensure you build respectful relationships with
your co-workers.

The best way to keep an office clean is to make individuals
take responsibility for the physical area they work in. If co-workers can be
made aware that it is up to them to ensure their desk looks professional and
presentable, they are much more likely to make the effort.

Desks can be kept clean by wiping down completely with an
antibacterial wipe or a vinegar-based solution. While it is the responsibility
of managers/owners of co-working spaces to ensure offices are professionally
cleaned on a regular basis, individuals using the workspace should also leave
desk spaces clean and tidy for their co-workers who are sharing the desk space.

Coach co-workers on the importance
of a clean and tidy office
in terms of productivity. Studies have shown
that the average worker loses as much as an hour each day to disorganisation. A
clean and tidy workspace could save as much as 260 hours each year in lost work
time!

  • It’s all about the bins

Every co-working space should be provided with a wastepaper
bin (or a series of centrally located bins that are easily accessible from all
co-working desks). Adequate waste and recycling bins should also be provided in
kitchen and eating areas. Sanitary disposal bins must be provided in female washrooms
in a readily accessible place.

Providing female co-workers with a discreet and hygienic
place to dispose of feminine hygiene waste is not only crucial to maintaining a
clean and pleasant washroom environment, it’s also a legal
requirement
.

  • Impose the rule – no eating at desks

Eating at desks spreads germs and creates unnecessary litter
around the workstation. It is also an issue for co-workers with serious
allergies, such as an intolerance of peanuts. It could only take a crumb of a
peanut cereal bar to cause a serious reaction. When people are sharing work
spaces it is important to have some set rules around the consumption of food
and drink. See here for
some sound advice on navigating food allergies in the workplace.

A communal space for eating food is essential and will do wonders for creating a buzzy atmosphere and give co-workers a space to get away from desks. It also keeps crumbs and foodstuffs away from work areas.

Photo Credits: eOffice, Pixabay

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