Spreading illness in the workplace

Pseudomonas is just one bacteria that could be lurking in your office. (PRNewsFoto/Staples)
Pseudomonas is just one bacteria that could be lurking in your office. (PRNewsFoto/Staples)

A third of Britons have knowingly been to work with an infectious illness, according to a new survey.

Office workers are putting themselves and their colleagues at risk, with 31% admitting they have gone to work knowing they had an infectious illness.

The survey was carried out on 3,000 employees by office supply chain Staples in an effort to raise awareness about staying healthy at work.

The majority (61%) of workers who came in while sick cited having ‘too much work’ as the main reason for doing this. Others said it was because they weren’t able to work remotely (28%).

Most people (72%) have fallen into the habit of eating at their desk, which can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, especially on the keyboard.

Keyboards are often cited as being dirtier than a toilet, meaning that if you eat while typing you could be exposing yourself to harmful bacteria. Germs like E.coli, Pseudomonas and MRSA can all be found in the workplace.

Of the genders, females are the biggest desk-eating culprits, with 74% of women eating at their desks compared to 68% of men.

 The survey found that one in seven workers don’t use soap when they have used the toilet, and one in 50 don’t wash their hands at all.

According to the data, men are less likely than women to wash their hands or use soap, despite the severe risks posed by non-washing.

Monica Mauri, VP, Hhead of HR from Staples Europe, commented: “What we’re seeing is a worrying number of workers who feel the need to come into the office when sick. Employers need to make employees aware of the importance of staying home when ill, especially when it’s infectious.

“There is also a pronounced trend in people eating at their desks. Keyboards and workstations are actually teeming with harmful bacteria, so it’s recommended that they are cleaned on a regular basis.”