Survey reveals office workers’ germ concern

Survey underscores importance of an effective and well-enforced office hygiene program to protect employees.

A survey of almost 1000 American office workers, commissioned by Reckitt’s Lysol Pro Solutions and conducted by Suzy, reveals that while 94 per cent are currently going into work at least once a week, only 32 per cent rate the measures taken by their employers to protect them from the spread of illness-causing germs in the office as excellent.

Over a quarter (29 per cent) even report continued pressure from their management to come into the office while sick during the pandemic and almost half (47 per cent) admit to knowingly not following hygiene protocols. These findings are striking as America returns to the office against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey, conducted in March 2022, underscores the importance of an effective and well-enforced office hygiene program to protect and inspire confidence among employees. Key findings include:

  • Workers feel positive about returning to the office – but germ concern persists:
    • 87 per cent feel anxiety about having a physical meeting in a confined space such as a conference room and 28 per cent avoid communal areas altogether.
    • 30per cent are much more concerned with catching a cold or flu in the office now than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Workers feel that their companies’ hygiene programs leave room for improvement:
    • Only 32 per cent feel their company’s health and safety measures are excellent.
    • Nearly half the office workers (43 per cent) believe that their office’s hygiene protocols could be better enforced.
    • Only 25 per cent say their office is cleaned and disinfected multiple times per day.
  • Workers want control over hygiene:
    • 58 per cent want their employer to provide them with disinfectant sprays and wipes to enable them to protect themselves at work.
    • Only 40 per cent state their employer is providing or planning to provide disinfectant sprays and wipes for protection.
  • Attitudes towards workplace hygiene are changing but need to evolve further:
    • 29 per cent still feel pressure from their boss to come into the office when sick – and 31% of all respondents report doing so.
    • A worrying 47 per centdo not follow the hygiene protocols put in place by the employer.

Dr. Lisa Ackerley, director, medical and scientific engagement, hygiene, at Reckitt’s Lysol Pro Solutions, said after two years of remote and hybrid working, many Americans are eager to return to the office. However, the survey shows that many office workers feel that their employer could do more – both in terms of implementing hygiene protocols that help to protect them, and providing them with the education and products to protect themselves in the workplace.

“The office environment – where groups of people share spaces – can be a major source for virus and bacterial transmission – not just COVID-19. Germs typically spread via hands to and from surfaces such as keyboards and work surfaces, particularly when people are hot-desking.

“In addition, offices contain many other shared items and surfaces such as door handles, bannisters, photocopiers, meeting room tables and kitchen surfaces and equipment. Disinfection is key to helping break the chain of germ transmission via these surfaces. This must be combined with good hand hygiene and encouraging employees to stay home when sick.

“While employers should protect their employees when they are in the office, the survey shows that employees also want to do more to protect themselves and their co-workers. A comprehensive office hygiene program should encourage employees to get involved in helping prevent the spread of germs.

“Combined together, these measures can make a real difference not only to improving cleanliness but also showing that the company is nurturing a culture of care for its employees.”

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