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How to Flu Proof Your Office

Updated on August 22, 2013
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I'm a dad, husband, and Christian first. The rest is just life's add-ons: an educator, administrator, learning & development professional.

You can get the flu from the office
You can get the flu from the office | Source

Who wants to catch the flu? Certainly not me! I bet you don’t want to get the bug as well. Although many articles are written on how to flu-proof your home, not much is written on how to flu-proof your office. Come to think of it, we spend most of our time at the work. Not to say the making your home germ-free is less important, but we can easily get the flu virus at the office. As such, everyone needs to be wary of germs looming in the workplace. You don’t want to take them home with you.

According to Dr. Charles Gerba from the University of Arizona, we touch approximately 30 objects per minute at work. Moreover, his study revealed that the office cubicle is a haven for germs in the office. Surely, this is an excellent reason to heed these flu-proofing tips so you won’t contract the flu or be an agent to spread the flu virus.

H1N1 Influenze Virus taken from the CDC Influenza Laboratory
H1N1 Influenze Virus taken from the CDC Influenza Laboratory | Source

Flu Proofing Tip # 1: Wipe and Disinfect

It will not suffice to wipe surfaces with a tissue paper or rag. Instead, you need to disinfect your work space. It’s a good thing that there are disinfecting wipes in the market. Some of the products that you may consider include Lysol’s sanitizing wipes or even Clorox’s disinfecting wipes. But if you don’t have time to buy it right now, try using 70% isopropyl alcohol and tissue in the meantime.

Here are some items that you need to constantly disinfect:

  • Keyboard
  • Computer’s mouse
  • Telephone handset and its base
  • Calculator
  • Stapler and staple remover
  • Desk surface
  • Drawer handles
  • Your cellphone
  • Doorknobs

Which do you prefer when dealing with the flu?

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Flu Proofing Tip # 2: Wash Your Hands

Hand washing is a staple in fighting the flu virus and other germs at home and in the office. But according to Dr. Jack brown, it’s not enough to just wash. In fact, he suggests scrubbing your hands thoroughly. This helps dislodge particulates and germs that may be proliferating on your hands. Moreover, Dr. Brown recommends scrubbing at least for 45 seconds. So spend a few more seconds in the washroom to clean your hands.

  • Consider germicidal soaps
  • Germ-fighting liquid hand wash
  • Use clean wash cloths
  • Dry your hands with a hand dryer or a clean cloth

Type of Influenza Virus

Type A
Type B
Type C
Infects both humans and animals
Affects only humans
Found in humans
Constaltly changing
Usually less severe than Type A
Milder compared to type A and B
Responsible for most flu epidemics
Does not cause pandemic
Does not Cause epidemics

Flu Symptoms

WHO recommends getting flu shots annually
WHO recommends getting flu shots annually | Source

Flu Proofing Tip # 3: Sanitize Your Hands

Here’s another for your hands. Sanitize them often. Hand sanitizers are a staple in hospitals and in the food service industry. Your company should also consider placing hand sanitizers in key areas such as near doors and lavatories. But if your office does not have a budget for this; you can always buy your personal stash.

Employees need to sanitize their hands as often as possible. But pay close attention during these instances because they require immediate hand sanitizing:

  • After sneezing or coughing
  • After holding/touching shared items like staplers, phone handsets
  • Touching or holding commonly handled items like doorknobs and drawer handles
  • Shaking hands with someone you do not know – of course do this discretely

Have you received a flu shot?

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Flu Proofing Tip # 4: Sneeze/Cough Into a Tissue

Sneezing and coughing are physiological reflexes. But before you let go of your sneeze or cough, make sure you have a handkerchief or tissue ready. In addition, covering your mouth and nose while sneezing and coughing decreases the spread of the flu virus or any other germs you may have. Thus, when you get that tingling feeling, reach for a tissue or handkerchief at once. Plus, don’t forget to wash or sanitize your hands right after. Likewise, never forget to dispose used tissue properly.

Influenza Quick Facts from WHO

  • This is a viral infection that easily spreads from one person to another
  • Affects anyone regardless of age, race, gender
  • Causes seasonal epidemics usually during winter
  • This is an acute infection that may cause death
  • Vaccination is the primary preventive action
  • Flu has an incubation period of approximately 2 days
  • Signs & symptoms include high fever, cough, headache, malaise, muscle and joint pain, sore throat
  • Common modes of transmission includes droplets from coughing and sneezing as well as touching surfaces where the virus is present
  • Treat ment includes antiviral medications and treatment of the symptoms

Flu Proofing Tip # 5: Use Your Own Pen

Here’s a simple and practical way of preventing the flu virus from spreading in the office – carry your own pen. As ludicrous as it may sound, using your own pen can drastically diminish your chances of getting the flu virus. This prevents you from getting in contact with other people’s materials thus improves your chances of warding off the bug.

On the other hand, do not readily offer your pen to others for them to use. I know it seems selfish, but this is about protecting your self against the flu virus and not how to be friendly to co-workers. Since we’re on the subject of keeping items to yourself, it’s probably a good idea to stow your office items in your drawer if you are not using them. This prevents officemates from taking and using them.

Everyone must realize that using his/her own office materials will help fight the spread of germs in the office. It’s not about being selfish; rather, it’s being safe and flu-free.

WHO Pandemic Influenza Phases (2009)
WHO Pandemic Influenza Phases (2009) | Source

Flu Proofing Tip # 6: Stay Home When You’re Sick

It is a wise choice to stay home when sick. This allows you to rest and regain your strength to ward of the flu virus. Moreover, it prevents the spread of your disease in the office. But if you must go to work, make sure to heed the following:

  • Wear a mask to protect others from your virus
  • Minimize contact with other employees as much as possible
  • Constantly disinfect and sanitize your hands and work area
  • Inform the office regarding what bug you have
  • Go home at once when you’re done with your work/assignment

We spend around eight hours a day in the office and this puts employees at risk. Even if it’s not the flu season, it is wise to heed these flu proofing tips. Likewise, employers must realize the importance of keeping the office clean and safe for everyone. But, it is the combined efforts of both the employees and the management to truly protect everyone from getting infected with the flu virus.


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    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi there T-X-2,

      Nice to see you again. We just try our best to get sick. It's a nightmare when we do. Stay hydrated and get some rest. Hope you get better soon.

    • T-X-2 profile image

      Tammy 4 years ago from Louisiana

      It had been a while since I had been sick as well, but it caught up with me last month. I wish I'd had your tips then. Great article.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi there Jackie Lynnley, Only a few people I know rarely get sick. Kudos to your immune system.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      This is great info and I use most of them at home for the sickos that stop by. lol It has been many years since I have been sick and I think your tips and green tea see me through! ^

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello thumbi7,

      It's nice to see you again. True, these are simple but many still forget to do them. Perhaps a little nudge towards the right way is needed. See you around. Thank you for the vote up and sharing.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello Ceres Schwarz ,

      Thank you for the kind words about the hub. No one wants to get sick and the workplace is a hub for nasty viruses and germs. Now, all we need to do is help spread the word to prevent the spread of germs.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi pstraubie48,

      I had the opportunity to teach children as well. They are more at risk since they touch almost anything. worse, the hand to mouth reflex is just annoying when it comes to protecting them against infections.

      I appreciate the angels my friend. :)

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 4 years ago from India

      You have written a beautiful hub out of some simple but relevant points on how to protect yourself from getting flu

      Voted up and shared

    • Ceres Schwarz profile image

      Ceres Schwarz 4 years ago

      Informative hub with a lot of good tips on how to flu proof your work place. This is very helpful for people so they can prevent themselves from getting sick.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      Great one wants to be exposed to flu germs when it can be prevented. One of the most powerful ways is wash, wash, washing hands which you mentioned. When I was still teaching, I had the children come into the classroom to wash their hands after using the restroom (Our restroom was a few feet from the sink actually but not in the classroom.) I wanted to see them wash. And many of them enjoyed it so much they would was all the way to their elbows.

      I also wiped down the desks with disinfectant wipes a couple of times throughout the day. And each morning before school began, I sprayed the desks and chairs with Lysol spray. I think I was a bit of a nut about it.

      thanks for sharing.

      Angels are on the way to you this morning ps