Sure, you hire a nightly cleaning service for your office space, so it’s safe to assume your workplace is clean. However, with flu and cold season fast approaching (if not here already), it’s time to double down on cleanliness standards in common areas. You might be surprised at the places that are neglected.

While you’re at it, take the time to reiterate how to stay healthy around the office. Talk about simple things your employees can do to promote a germ-free space, and think about discussing flu shots to gauge your workforce’s interest in an on-site flu shot clinic.

Trouble Spots

First things first, though. Let’s break down the top places where germs often spread around the office:

  • Break room. While your employees (hopefully) clean up after eating their lunch, they may not clean all the surfaces. The microwave buttons, coffeepot handles, faucet handles, refrigerator and countertops all could attract germs.
  • Office machines. The copier buttons and controls on other machines are touched by everyone, but may never be sanitized.
  • Door handles. In order to get into the office, most of your employees touch door handles and/or elevator buttons. Some of the door handles and all those buttons may be shared with other businesses in the building. Working cooperatively with building management and other tenants could assist with solving any concerns about the cleanliness of common areas.
  • Conference rooms. Chances are, you have multiple meeting rooms where employees gather. How often are these rooms cleaned? If someone isn’t in charge of cleaning the tables and chairs, then they’re germ-spreading zones waiting to happen.
  • Desks and cubicles. It’s likely that desktops, phones and keyboards are not regularly cleaned. Employees touch everything in their personal workspace, and any germs on their hands are then transferred to that area.
  • Reception area. Your employees, as well as customers, visitors, delivery people and vendors, likely enter here. Any area with that much foot traffic adds to the potential for germ spreading. So reception areas should be vacuumed and cleaned frequently.
  • Company vehicles. Depending on your business, you may have a pool of company vehicles used by a variety of employees. Unless someone cleans the door handles and interiors after each use, germs will be waiting for drivers and passengers.

Communication Comes First

Showing your employees how to stay healthy starts with information. There are simple ways to address the spread of germs that will have everyone more than willing to do their part. Provide hand wipes, disinfectant wipes, soap, tissues and hand sanitizer in all rooms of your office. Ask your workers to clean their own workspaces regularly, and assign a rotating weekly crew for common areas.

Request that your employees stay mindful about covering their coughs and sneezes, and encourage frequent hand-washing. Posting reminders around the office may heighten awareness until it becomes a natural part of the workday.

Are Flu Shots an Option?

What better way to promote employee health than by offering flu immunizations at the workplace? Allowing employees’ families to get vaccinated should increase the likelihood of participation. Some people may be reluctant to get a flu shot at work, and while you can’t force participation, an informational meeting giving examples of how flu germs spread may be beneficial in highlighting why you’re offering this service.

Increasing germ awareness around your office may not be the most pleasant experience, but in the long run, everyone should benefit as mindful, healthy thinking comes to the forefront.

Mary Parsons is retired from a 30-year career in the insurance industry. She worked in the claims department of a major insurance carrier as a claims adjuster, manager and a member of a catastrophe team. Since her retirement, she has developed a career as a freelance writer. As an insurance professional, she has been a contributor to several insurance websites.