We recently surveyed over 650 members of the public workforce to gain an understanding on how often their workspaces and equipment are cleaned. This was in addition to research done by Printerland in May 2018 which found that the average desk harbours 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat. GCC Facilities Management provide commercial cleaning & office cleaning services across the UK. They also offer focused services, including office cleaning in London.

How often is your desk cleaned at work? (Either by yourself or a third party)

Although 35% of workers stated their desk was cleaned everyday and 28% did so on a weekly basis, individually desk items seem to be neglected when it comes to hygiene. The research also found that 9% cleaned their desk monthly whilst 11% didn’t clean it at all.

According to the Printerland study, this could carry risk of contracting Heterotrophic bacteria, E. coli, Helicobacter pylori, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus.

Cleaning your own desks can seem rather redundant when the items you touch most are overlooked.

How often is the mouse, keyboard and telephone on your desk cleaned at work? (Either by yourself or a third party)

37% declared their computer mouse was not cleaned at all. 31% of keyboards are never cleaned and 28% of telephones are also ignored.

Despite the lack of willingness to clean the telephone, it harbours 25,127 germs per square inch, this being 760% more than the keyboard which has 3,295 grams per square inch. This makes it one of the dirtiest items surveyed. The mouse was the cleanest of all 3 items with 1,676 germs per square inch.

Has poor cleanliness at your workplace ever caused you to bring in kitchenware of your own (such as mugs, bowls or tupperware, for example) and have you ever spent personal income on cleaning equipment or appliances for the sole purpose of using them in the office?

32% of staff members avoid communal kitchenware and bring their own due to fear of cleanliness of shared items and 23% have used their own personal funds to supply items for the office to maintain cleanliness.

However, the majority of those surveyed were happy with the sanitation of communal spaces that are most often serviced by cleaners.

How happy are you with the cleanliness of the toilet at your workplace?

Toilets scored the highest percentage of satisfaction with just under 40% satisfied and another 30% told us they were highly satisfied. Though toilets scored well in general, 16% surveyed remained either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied showing that there is still perceived shortages in cleanliness.

How happy are you with the cleanliness of the kitchen and fridge at your workplace?

The kitchen also scored highly with 38% satisfied with the upkeep. The fridge also scored a high 37% on satisfaction. The kitchen usually stems as the hotbed for office social and 13% admitted they were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with its’ cleanliness.

Overall, it gives a clear outline that personal and shared items are often left to harbour bacteria and in a busy office environment can be forgotten about, potentially going a lifetime without being cleaned.

ONS: Number of sick days taken for minor illnesses has increased by 10 million since 2012

Data from the ONS has revealed a staggering increase of 12 million sick days taken for ‘minor illnesses’ since 2011. In 2018 alone, 38.5 million sick days were recorded to have been used due to these ailments, costing businesses millions. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused even more staff members being sent home due to infection or exposure. While a deep-clean of the office can help to prevent the spread, the best course of action is to hire professional fogging services. These services not only reduce the risk of transmission but also allow staff to return to the office in a matter of hours after a confirmed case, with peace of mind they are safe to do so.

Minor illness caused by the spread of bacteria can be easily prevented with proper sanitation and cleanliness. However, this recent data suggests inadequate office hygiene is leading to an epidemic.

“The findings show that desk cleanliness is easily neglected, despite the health risks that it carries and the knock-on effects it could have for businesses in terms of sickness, reduced capacity and absences.

“More needs to be done to firstly raise awareness of the health risks that dirtier working surfaces can have amongst office workers and secondly, businesses should take more action to ensure that their staff are working in a clean and healthy environment.”

Claire Maclean, Managing Director GCC Facilities Management

“Surfaces and equipment can harbour dirt, viruses and bacteria that can remain active for months. Without regular office cleaning and good personal hygiene – e.g. antibacterial handwashing – there’s an increased chance of these surface germs transferring to you and giving you illnesses like flu, food poisoning and diarrhoea.

“If you fall ill, it’s best to take time off work to fully recover and reduce the chance of any harmful germs spreading to your colleagues.”

Dr Arun Thiyagarajan, Health Clinics Medical Director, from Bupa UK


Google Surveys September 2019