It can be tempting to spend your lunch hour at your desk, sending emails, surfing the web or watching videos on YouTube.

Admittedly, this can be a practical use of your time, but it can also create the ideal conditions for spreading germs. That’s because desks are veritable bacteria magnets. More than half of all workers eat at their desk, but only 20% of clean them before eating!

Desks are crawling with microbes!

  • The typical workspace can host 400 times more harmful bacteria than a toilet seat.
  • Traces of norovirus (gastro), influenza, MRSA and E. coli can be found on desks.
  • The average desk harbours 10 million bacteria. That’s 100 times more than the average kitchen table!
  • The average office phone headset has over 25,000 microbes per square inch.
  • 20% of workers never clean their mouse or keyboard.

Pro tips and advice

  • Provide employees with a friendly and welcoming space where they can take breaks and eat their meals.
  • Place bottles of hand sanitizer at every desk and in common areas.
  • Designate a cleanliness “supervisor” per department/work team whose role is to remind colleagues to clean their workspace.
  • Clean your work desk, phone, keyboard and computer mouse once a week with sanitizing wipes.

Is it possible to avoid all contact with germs? Of course not. Nor should you try to; the human body needs germs and bacteria to keep its immune system functioning properly. That being said, it’s important to wash your hands often, especially before eating. Instead of eating at your desk, eat at a designated meal area. And don’t forget to regularly clean your workspace!

 Not just a matter of germs

Eating at your desk also means remaining seated longer, which can negatively impact your health in other ways. Staying in “work” mode all day long without taking any breaks decreases productivity, increases stress levels and can quickly lead to burnout. Taking time for things like eating outside and getting up and stretching every so often will help to prevent injuries and illness such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and muscle and joint pain. Regularly resting your mind and moving your body are good for both your physical and mental health.