President Dwight D. Eisenhower famously made sure to have a clean desk at the end of every day. Whether he was commanding troops and coordinating military strategy for Operation Overlord in World War Two, or sitting in the Oval Office in the White House as the 34th President of the United States, he always had a clean desk at the end of the day.
Those who didn’t know him well would look upon his desk with awe and amazement. Those who were close to him knew that at the end of every day he would open a large drawer, and casually sweep everything into it at the end of each day.
This gave the illusion that his desk was always clean. Though he would come back in the next morning, open the giant drawer, and splay everything back out on it to start with a full head of steam into the chaos he’d created.
Of course, this is just one of many stories about famous men who more famously failed to maintain a truly clean office desk.
The truth is most of us have sat next to “That Guy” whose desk looks like a miniature recreation of a World War Two battle scene played out in paper clips, old post-it notes, and coffee cup ring stains. Though even if you are a drawer sweeper like Dwight Eisenhower, chances are good that even your seemingly clean desk is a lot dirtier than you think.
Germs & the Average Desktop
It’s estimated that a typical office desk can have up to 400 times more germs than an average toilet seat. While there’s some debate about the efficacy of the data here, it still stands as a shocking reality that desktops are rife with potential pathogens that come from sneezing, coughing, high-touch surfaces, poor personal office hygiene practices, and the general presence of respiratory droplets. Therefore maintaining proper office cleaning schedule and process is paramount to keeping these at bay.
Now, this is certainly an area of concern for a single executive desk used by one employee and only one employee. Though what about communal workstations, customer service counters, telemarketing pods, and cubicles that are shared by multiple people over multiple shifts.
All of a sudden those deposited desktop germs that were supposedly limited to yourself and the people working around you become communal property for droves of other people. Then those people go home with those freshly deposited germs to hug their loved ones!
Data Trends for Germs on Office Desks
The University of Arizona decided to demystify the concerns about germs on office desks and the overall cleanliness of the average workplace. Their research found that human beings are the most common source of bacteria and other potentially pathogenic microbes in any workplace.
Their data also suggests that desks that are primarily used by males have three to four times the number of bacteria in and on them than desks that are primarily used by females. This includes significant bacterial deposits on:
- Computer screens
- Desk drawers
- Desktop personal items
- The reasons why desks that are primarily used by males have a higher bacterial load are still up for debate. Though many suggest that it’s due to males being more likely to have poor personal hygiene practices in the office.
Though this isn’t to say that desks that are primarily used by females are perfectly clean and free of microbial presence. They just tend to have a lower overall bacterial load.
The truth is things like respiratory droplets, mold spores, and other potential pathogens/allergens are always going to be living in the air around you. As gravity inevitably pulls them downward, they will concentrate on horizontal surfaces like a desktop.
Allergens & Office Desks
Of course, bacteria, viruses, mold spores, and other microbial pathogens are just one part of the equation when it comes to potentially harmful things deposited on office desktops. During peak times of the year, pollen, dust, and other allergens that waft through the air can deposit on a desktop. They can even adhere to respiratory droplets on phones, mouthpieces, and other lightly moistened surfaces.
When particulate matter is allowed to build up on desktop surfaces, it doesn’t take much to disturb it. The slightest waft of the HVAC turning on, or the swipe of a jacket sleeve as you walk out the door can release dust and pollen into the air. This can increase the risk of asthma and allergic reactions in other people throughout the office.
How To Maintain A Clean, Healthy, Safe Desk
The first step toward maintaining clean, healthy safe desks throughout your office is to supply employees with everything they need to perform basic self-cleaning. This includes keeping waste bins near every executive desk and providing them near cubicle pods, customer service counters, and communal workspaces.
Keep dusters, soft rags, and other cleaning supplies on hand, and make them readily available. Not only will this ensure that employees have what they need to take care of accidental spills, but it also encourages them to wipe down their desks as needed.
Upgrade Your HVAC
The air handling system in a lot of offices is inundated with dust, pollen, mold spores, airborne germs, and other hazardous particulate matter. When it’s over-taxed or the filter goes too long without being changed, particulate matter is allowed to move through the air with reckless abandon. It can then deposit on desks where it invisibly builds up into an unhealthy patina over the course of an average workweek.
Bring in Professional Cleaners
The next step in office cleaning desks and maintaining a tidy, healthy working environment is to hire professional cleaners to maintain all communal and executive spaces. This is next-level cleaning that can be done after your normal hours of operation, or during your typical workday.
Professional cleaners, like the expert cleaning technicians at Building Services, use state-of-the-art professional-grade cleaning products to both clean and sanitize office desks and high-traffic workspaces throughout the office. We even offer green cleaning products to refresh your desks and other office areas without all the harsh fumes that come with a lot of traditional cleaning chemicals.