The Hidden Costs Of A Filthy Workplace

15:26' 04-09-2018
Although your workplace might seem bright and shiny, it is a haven for germs and bacteria.

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    Libby Sander, assistant professor at Bond Business School, says in The Conversation that your office desk alone has more than 10 million bacteria, 400 times more than a toilet seat.

    According to Ms Sander, a 13-month study by American researchers found 4,800 dirty surfaces in office buildings, the worst being taps, microwaves, computer keyboards and fridge doors were the dirtiest surfaces.

    While bacteria cannot survive long without a food source, viruses can survive for hours or even months on surfaces like phones and computer equipment.

    The most obvious outcome is increased illness, costing the Australian economy about $34.1 billion each year through lost productivity.

    However, a dirty workplace also has psychological effects. One study of 43,021 workers from 351 office buildings found that cleanliness was linked with employee satisfaction. One study showed that a cleaner office resulted in a 12.5% decrease in sick days, and increases in productivity.

    Hand hygiene is one of the most effective means of reducing the transmission of germs. In year-long random controlled trials, workplace hygiene programs including education and the use of hand sanitisers reduced hygiene-related healthcare claims by over 20%.

    Part of the problem is people not taking responsibility for keeping their workplace clean, disposing of litter, emptying the dishwasher and so on. In one famous study, even people who said they wouldn't litter were more likely to do so when the environment was already dirty or others were littering.

    It seems that people easily stop caring about hygiene if no one else seems to care about it either. Not caring about the workplace then leads to caring less about the company.

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