Germs are everywhere that we go. However, if we could limit our exposure to them, we could avoid that nasty tummy bug or annoying cold. One way to do this is to improve office cleanliness. Did you know that the average work desk can be up to 100 times less hygienic than your kitchen table, and 400 times dirtier than the average toilet seat? Probably not. When you’re working in close proximity with other colleagues, it’s no wonder that germs and illnesses can spread so quickly, leading to several employees needing sick days away from the office.
Some employers may think that recruiting an office cleaner is a waste of money that could be spent elsewhere. However, industrial cleaning company DCS Multiserve investigates why keeping your office clean could actually save you money. In a recent report, it was revealed that sickness absences cost employers on average around £29 billion per annum. Here, we discuss the cost of sick days versus the cost of keeping your workplace clean and germ free. Could a clean office save you money in sickness pay-outs?
Illness from the workplace
One eye-opening fact is that the average keyboard is host to approximately 16 million microbes – that’s around 3,295 microbes per square inch of your keyboard. Compare this to the fact there’s only around 49 microbes per square inch of a toilet seat, and it suddenly becomes apparent how dirty our keyboards are. And that’s no surprise when only 3% of offices are said to sufficiently clean their equipment – and 11% of employees never clean their keyboards.
Some microbes, like the ones which cause the common cold, can live for up to three days on your office equipment. Even more worrying is that more serious microbes, such as MRSA, can last anywhere between six weeks to seven months, highlighting how important it is to regularly clean work surfaces and equipment.
It seems as though employees aren’t helping themselves with their unclean bathroom habits. With 32% admitting to not washing their hands after using the bathroom, and a further 30% admitting they only use water to ‘wash’ their hands, it’s no surprise that 24% of us have faecal bacteria on our hands, which is then transferred onto the surfaces which we touch. One single person carrying a virus will infect 50% of all equipment and fellow employees in the same vicinity within four hours. Killing germs sooner rather than later will reduce and prevent future contamination and the spread of infections around the office.
Each sick day counts
To examine sick days and their effects on a business, a survey was carried out which collected data from over 670 organisations covering just under two million employees. It was revealed that during 2014, sickness absence averaged at 2.8% of working time per annum – that equates to 6.5 sick days per employee. In total, this cost employers an estimated £29 billion a year.
It seems as though 2017 will continue in the same way. So far this year, public sector organisations have witnessed a median of 3.5% of working time lost due to illness (8.1 days per employee) and 2.2% have been recorded in private-sector organisations (5.1 days per employee). Without your employees, your company’s production rate is limited.
Around 80% of infections are passed on through contact with a contaminated surface. Allowing germs to spread around the office can leave employers short staffed and out of pocket, so maybe it’s time to invest in an office cleaner?
Hiring a cleaner
There are some things that can be done at a low-cost to keep the office clean – hand sanitising wipes and gel, regular desk and keyboard cleans and implementing a no food at your desk rule should help. However, you can’t expect your staff to clean the entire workplace on a daily basis to kill any germs that have set up home around the office. Hiring a cleaner, or cleaning company to clean your workplace is an investment which will in turn help to save you money in sick days.
Businesses who have made the smart decision to invest in cleaning spend on average £13 per hour, per cleaner. However, prices can vary on the size of your premises and what you require the cleaner to do. Quotes are unique to each business. It’s likely that you will not need your cleaner to work every hour of the working day – in most cases, a few hours are sufficient — that’s if the company you employ provides a reliable and quality service.
To understand the annual payments, consider the following scenario. If you were to hire a cleaner for two hours, each working day, it would cost an estimated £130 per week to keep your office clean. Presuming you require a cleaner for 50 weeks of the year, with two weeks off to account for Christmas and any office closures, it would cost approximately £6,760 per year, which is a worthwhile investment to prevent the spread of infections around the office, and save you money in staff sick pay.