workTraditional office environments place co-workers in close proximity to each other for long periods of time every single day. In addition, many objects that range from door knobs to buttons on the copier machine are touched by numerous people each day. These are just a few of the reasons why contagious diseases and illnesses may easily spread between co-workers in an office environment.

There are several steps that you can take to reduce the number of germs that you come into contact with at work and to minimize the spread of illnesses within your office premises.

Use An Alcohol-Based Sanitizer On Office Equipment
You touch numerous objects throughout the day. These objects may be the ones that only you use, such as your own phone and keyboard at your desk.  At the same time, there may also be objects that your coworkers or office staff commonly touches, such as the door handle of the bathroom, equipment in the stationery room or the fridge handle in the breakroom.

  • You can keep alcohol-based sanitizing wipes close to your desk to wipe your own work area periodically. In fact, doing this even once per day can yield great results.
  • You may also ask your office manager to keep sanitizing wipes in common areas so that you as well as others can remember to wipe clean the commonly shared items.

Use Hand Sanitizer Periodically Throughout The Day
Using hand sanitizer several times a day can also be helpful. Consider sanitizing your hands before meals and after using the restroom.

  • After shaking hands with people at a meeting, you may also use hand sanitizer to kill germs that may be passed onto your hands.
  • In some cases, it may be appropriate to offer others your hand sanitizer. However, in other situations, it may be considered rude to use a sanitizer in front of others. For example, if you shake hands with someone and then immediately reach for hand sanitizer, you may give off the impression that you think the other person is dirty.

Therefore, consider how you can use sanitizer in a way that is socially acceptable in a professional environment.

Ask Sick Co-Workers To Cover Their Coughs And Sneezes
Coughing and sneezing are activities that can project germs outward into the air and onto surfaces that are several feet away. Essentially, this is one of the most common ways to transmit contagious diseases to others. Therefore;

  • If you are close to others who are coughing or sneezing, a smart idea is to ask them politely to cover their coughs and sneezes.
  • If you are concerned that the individual may find your suggestion to be rude, you can simply offer a box of tissues to the sick individual as a reminder.
  • If they do not take the hint, you can then be more obvious about your suggestion by giving them verbal advice to cover coughs and sneezes.

Request Sick Co-Workers To Work From Home
It is not always feasible for a co-worker with a mild cold or allergies to spend every day at home, so everyone who has sniffles, sneezes or coughing may not be able to head home at the first sign of general malaise. However, if an individual appears to be truly sick, you may request that he or she take a day off or suggest that they work from home for a couple of days, if possible.

Wear A Surgeon’s Mask
When all else fails, you can consider wearing a surgeon’s mask.

  • Generally, a surgeon’s mask will keep you from inhaling airborne germs.
  • Therefore, this step may yield the best results if numerous people in your environment are coughing and sneezing.

A surgeon’s mask may not be ideal for all work environments, such as if you work directly with the general public and must present a professional image. However, if you have a back-office job, use of a surgeon’s mask may be acceptable in your workplace.

When you are concerned about the spread of contagious diseases throughout your office, you can work to minimize your risk of getting sick and prevent your co-workers from getting sick. These are all simple ideas that can produce great results and you can begin implementing them today.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author:  Michele Holincheck, FNP