Why Personal Hygiene Should Extend to Your Desk when WFH
If you had to look back on 2020 and say the one phrase that summed up the year, what would it be? Social distancing? Living in lockdown? Working from home? What day is it?
Or perhaps it’s that firm favourite – wash your hands?
With the year dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic, life as we knew it came to an abrupt stop early in the year. Now, months on and with the British summertime anticipation also pretty much cancelled, we’re all becoming hand washing experts.
Thankfully, the early impact of the coronavirus – shops running out of soap and hand sanitiser being traded on some kind of germophobe-inspired shadow economy, whipped up by media frenzies depicting empty shelves – is over. (Now, we have it on good authority, the shelves are being wiped of sand, cement and other building materials as the building trade kicks properly back into action.)
But being really good at washing our hands regularly or using our clandestinely acquired hand gel is just one part of keeping ourselves safe from picking up the virus (or any other bug).
Viruses are ‘obligate parasites’. This means that they lack the ability to generate their own energy and cannot survive without host cells to carry out the vital functions that keep them alive and able to replicate.
And they’re really good at it. Their sole purpose is finding a host (in the case of the coronavirus, this host is us) to allow them to replicate and replicate and so on. They’ll do anything to survive, including being able to remain viable on solid surfaces for a certain amount of time, just waiting to be picked up by our hands and transferred to somewhere ideal for replication (our eyes, noses and mouths).
Whilst as yet it’s not entirely clear how well the Covid-19 virus can survive on inert surfaces, it’s safest to assume that it can survive outside of our bodies for up to 48 hours (1).
This means that there is a potential to pick up the virus by touching inert surfaces, hence why it’s such good practice to wash our hands regularly. Especially so after being outside, visiting a shop or receiving a doorstep delivery.
But it’s also good practice to regularly clean the surfaces in our homes, such as the kitchen worksurfaces after unpacking a food shop or delivery.
This extends to our smartphones and workstations if we’re working from home. Part of a healthy work environment, even when in our own homes, is keeping our desks, keyboards, mouse and other equipment clean. Giving all these things a wipe with a disinfecting disposable wipe or using an antibacterial spray and a clean, dry cloth should be part of our daily routine, as much as hand washing is.
The more steps we take to keep ourselves and our homes clean and sanitised, the better for helping to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. Plus doing so can help prevent the spread of other common bugs that can cause colds, flu and stomach upsets, which if they make us ill, could potentially make us more susceptible to other, more serious infections (2).
So now you’ve finished reading this, give your phone, tablet or laptop a wipe down. It’s one of the best things you can do today.