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Are hot-desking offices less hygienic?

04/09/2017

Hot-desking workplaces may be less hygienic than those with fixed desks, according to a new study. 
 
The germ count in offices where desks are shared was found to be 18 per cent higher than in environments where each employee was assigned a fixed desk. And this means hot-desking could increase the risk of employees contracting infections such as colds, flu and the norovirus at their workplace.
 
The swabbing study was conducted in an office where more than 100 members of staff occupied a fixed-desk environment. The same employees then switched to a hot-desking model and the study was repeated.
 
Scientists used an ATP bioluminescence reader to measure the microbiological concentration on keyboards, computer mice and other items at 40 workstations.
Shared mice in the hot-desking environment were found to have a 41 per cent higher microbiological reading than the computer mice in the fixed-desk situation.
 
Average readings of fixed-desk surfaces were found to be 32 per cent lower than the desk surfaces in hot-desking offices. And overall the germ readings in hot-desking offices were 18 per cent higher.
 
The results were attributed to cross-contamination issues when equipment is shared plus the practice of lunching “al-desko” at communal desks.
 
A new web tool from Tork aims to helping organisations to improve their business through better hygiene and cleaning. The free tool looks at today’s office environment and considers how to tackle new cleaning challenges that arise from practices such as hot-desking, shared equipment and the increasing use of screens. 
 
The web tool can be accessed here