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October 2017

To hot-desk or not-to-hot-desk that is the question

Written by Lemay Rogers
office hygiene Leave a Comment

Our office landscapes continue to evolve. Individual office suites (complete with secretarial en-suite) has made way for open plan environments. Large boardrooms only used for formal occasions have made way for agile meeting rooms. Or why even have meeting rooms?  Virtual meetings and working remotely is on the rise.  

With less people office-bound companies are trading large offices with expensive rent for smaller, shared spaces. Hot-desking is becoming a norm in more companies but it is a sensitive subject for many and it often boils down to sharing personal space.

It’s not about having a place to put your picture frames or a drawer to keep your snacks. There are concerns around getting to the office and, there being no desks available; you need to sit to that annoying, loud guy you avoid at all costs; who sat here before me; did the person have a cold; did they wash their hands before sitting down?

I get stuck on the “did the person have a cold; did they wash their hands before sitting down”. In a recent article featured in Qube Magazine highlighted a study done by Initial. Initial swabbed more than 100 workstations in a fixed desk environment and repeated the swabbing after the same company moved to a hot-desk environment.

Microbiological activity is 18% higher in hot-desking office environments.

“Shared computer mice in the hot-desking environment had a 41% higher microbiological reading compared to readings taken from the computer mice on the fixed-desks. Desk surfaces were also found to be less contaminated with microbial activity in offices with fixed-desks, recording average readings 32% lower than in the hot-desk office.”

These quoted statistics scare me. We all know that cross-contamination in the office is a fact of life but hot-desking amplifies your risk. Watch the journey of the germ if you need a refresher as to how quickly germs can spread.

What do you do to limit cross-contamination?

Dr Peter Barratt from Initial said “While employers need to provide the right tools for good office hygiene, and offer advice and reminders on how and when to use them, employees also have a responsibility for their own personal hygiene…”  

I couldn’t agree more! If you are currently hot-desking or considering it as an option you need to ensure YOU are proactive and take steps to limit your personal risk. If you would like to learn more about hotspots in the office I recommend you read 7 workplace mistakes you’re making that are making you sick.  

You may also want to talk to your office facilities manager about steps the company is taking to drive good hygiene practices in your office. Do you have hand soap and paper in the bathroom? What about hand sanitiser stations?  Here is a hygiene checklist to get your conversation started.

To get back to the question of “to hot-desk or not to hot-desk”. We need to be proactive and embrace change, but remember to consider and mitigate the risk.

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Lemay Rogers

Lemay Rogers

Lémay Rogers is the Marketing Manager for Rentokil Initial. When not contributing to the Initial blog, she is the custodian of all things Marketing for Rentokil Initial South Africa, and supports the Sub-Saharan African businesses. As a frequent traveller AND mother of a toddler, she is all too aware of how easily germs can travel with us, from one location to another and then back to our homes. Follow Lémay on Twitter and LinkedIn for practical advice on good hygiene practices, both at home and in the workplace.

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