How hygienic is hot-desking?

21Aug

It’s estimated that over 30% of office workers in the UK share their workspace with colleagues, otherwise known as hot-desking, as more companies move their staff away from fixed desk arrangements.

For employers, hot-desking is estimated to save the cost of running an office by as much as 30% and anecdotal evidence suggests that it also helps to improve communication between teams that would otherwise be seated separately.

For employees, however, being separated from your own team could lead to a feeling of isolation, a lack of your own personal space and, with many people sharing the same desks and equipment, a raised risk of infections being spread.

Is hot-desking less hygienic?

A new study, carried out by Initial Washroom, found that hot-desking leads to dirtier desks and workspaces than traditional fixed desk arrangements, increasing the chance of cross-contamination and colds and flu viruses being spread.

To carry out the experiment, a company with over 100 employees working in a fixed desk arrangement had their desks and commonly used equipment swabbed to check for bacterial concentration.

The same company then moved over to hot-desking and, after 4 months had passed, the same areas and equipment were swabbed for comparison.

When the two results were compared, the hot-desking office showed bacterial contamination readings were around 18% higher on average than a traditional fixed desk arrangement, with shared equipment like keyboards and computer mice a key exposure pathway.

Computer mice in the hot-desking experiment had a 41% higher reading, while desk surfaces in the initial fixed desk test had a 32% lower count of overall bacterial concentration.

How to make your workspace more hygienic

Of course, not all bacteria that we find in the workplace are bad for us, particularly for those of us with strong immune systems.  However, pathogens like MRSA, cold and flu viruses and even Norovirus can spread extremely quickly in confined areas and can survive for long periods on hard surfaces.

Shared computer equipment, desk surfaces, phones and even eating at your desk can all contribute to bacterial contamination in the workplace so it’s important to help break the chain of infection, particularly if you work in a hot-desking office.

The most effective way of breaking the chain of infection is by washing your hands regularly with soap and water, which will help to reduce the levels of bacteria spreading to your keyboard and mice.  At the end of the day you should also wipe down your desk area and equipment used with an antibacterial wipe.

To read more tips on office hygiene from Biomaster, click here

Biomaster antimicrobial technology helps to reduce the risk of cross-contamination in the office.  To win a free Biomaster antimicrobial microfibre cloth, simply tell us which 3 things in the workplace you would protect with Biomaster