Updated 30 August 2018

Here's how dirty your keyboard and desk really are

Your office space is swarming with all kinds of microorganisms. Poor workspace health could be the reason you're getting sick.

At work, your desk is where you spend most of your day. From sending emails and writing reports to taking calls and scheduling meetings.

Your keyboard, headphones, mouse, track pad, access card and mobile phone are swarming with bacteria, according to recent studies. And these bacteria could put you at risk for qwerty tummy, a stomach bug caught from filthy workplace materials. The bug is named Q-W-E-R-T-Y after the first few letters on the keyboard.

Sometimes being so buried in work means that you end up eating your lunch right at your desk. And this is a big mistake. 

Workspace filth

Which?, a British consumer group, conducted a study on workspace hygiene. They swabbed hundreds of their own keyboards and pieces of office equipment. They found that the average keyboard contains more bacteria than the average toilet seat. 

People eating at their desks may drop some food particles, spill drinks and leave food wrappers behind. This mess attracts bacteria, insects and even rodents. According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, mice droppings have been found lodged in computer keyboards.  

Objects that are used by people on a daily basis tend to be contaminated by bacteria. Most of the time germs and microbes are picked up through hand contact. Sneezing directly over your keyboard when you have the flu means that your flu bug is now also lodged in between the keys. 

Researchers found that the keyboards contained more 7 000 microorganisms, while headphones had more than 2 000.

Cleaning up

During the study, one keyboard was so contaminated that it that it had to be removed and quarantined.

A 2016 study, conducted by IT training platform CBT Nuggets, found that of all office supplies and technology the office access card was the item that contained the most bacteria. It contained more germs than a bacteria-infested pet toy.

Poor personal hygiene is also a contributing factor. Not washing hands after using the bathroom or eating tends to spread bacteria as well. 

Smartphones were found to have 9 000 times more bacteria than your toilet seat. Smartphones accompany us everywhere we go. We pick them up and put them down on surfaces that are not always sanitary, thereby spreading microorganisms. 

Q-W-E-R-T-Y tummy prevention

To avoid microbes and bacteria, follow these basic steps. 

  • Regularly clean your office space.
  • Shake out your keyboard and wipe down surfaces.
  • Avoid eating at your desk.
  • Be careful where you put your phone.
  • Don't take your phone with you to the bathroom.

Image credit: iStock 


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