How your dirty office is costing you money

Germs are everywhere in the office, and they are easily spread too. The average work desk can be up to 100 times less hygienic than your kitchen table, and 400 times more dirty than the average toilet seat! When you’re working close to colleagues, it’s no wonder that germs and illnesses can spread so rapidly – leading to several employees needing sick days at once.

Whilst recruiting an office cleaner may sound like an expense that you could do without, it could actually save you a lot of money. In a recent report, it was revealed that sickness absences cost employers on average around £29 billion per annum. Together with DCS Multiserve, specialists in industrial cleaning, we investigate how an unclean office can affect your employees and their productivity levels.

Office cleanliness

Equipment in the office can be a breeding ground for germs. For example, the average keyboard is home to approximately 16 million microbes alone – that’s around 3,295 microbes per square inch of your keyboard. To put this into perspective, 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.

Germs such as the ones that lead to the common cold can survive for up to three days on office equipment. This means that you could pick up the illnesses over two days after somewhere has been contaminated. 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.

Bathroom habits of employees are not helping office cleanliness either – 32% of those surveyed admitted to not washing their hands after using the bathroom. A further 30% admitted that they only use water to ‘wash’ their hands. Taking this into consideration, 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.

The cost of calling in sick

Results from the UK’s biggest annual survey of sickness absence rates and costs revealed that during 2014, sickness absence averaged at 2.7% of working time per annum (6.5 sick days per employee). Over 670 organisations were surveyed, with just under two million employees collectively. The cost of sick days came to an estimated £29 billion per year.

It appears that this year is set to follow a similar pattern in terms of absence rates. So far in 2017, 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% in private-sector organisations (5.1 days per employee). Without your employees, your company’s production rate is limited.

Contact with a contaminated surface is the cause of 80% of infections, confirming the importance of workplace cleanliness. 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?

Investing in a cleaner

There are many actions that can be taken within the office to improve levels of hygiene that are cheap and effective – 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.

There are many businesses which pay for office cleaning on daily basis – on average this costs £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 evaluate the annual costs, 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.


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