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Seriously, It's Time To Clean Your Workspace

Updated on January 23, 2012
Don't let your workspace get to this point.
Don't let your workspace get to this point.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking the photo above is edited or staged for dramatic effect to enhance this article. Well, you're partially right--I did enhance the saturation of the photo. I didn't add anything to this photo, I didn't dump extra crud on the keyboard, I only cranked up the intensity of the color a bit. Actually, that might help you see what is on this poor fella's keyboard. It's real, and it was at the desk of a customer who's computer I worked on this year. Scary.

I didn't actually touch this keyboard. I'm not hyper-sensitive about germs or anything, but as you can see, this one takes the cake. Well, it looks like it takes the cake, some motor oil, fill dirt, road rash, and about 20 other unidentifiable elements. Since I work on so many different computers in any given week, I'm used to grimy input devices, but when it came to this one, I plugged in a spare that I keep in my vehicle. I then suggested they might consider upgrading their keyboard on that system.

Without any scientific report supporting my hypothesis, I could tell you first hand that computer workstations, and the desks they sit on can be nasty environments. Whether they sit in office buildings, automobile dealership service departments, or restaurants and kitchens, computers and the areas they reside in can get messy. It's no surprise either. We eat around them, we touch them after touching everything else, and we spend endless hours making contact with the same keys and mice every day--sometimes all day. As you're reading this now, you likely are in contact with your computer or part of it.

But in case you don't want to just take my word for it, you can refer back to an older study from the University of Arizona where they discovered that a typical workers desk had hundreds of times more bacteria than an office toilet seat. Desks, phones, computer keyboards and mice are all prime habitats for the bacteria that cause colds and flus. In this article from CNN, Dr Charles Gerba was reported to point out that toilets had 49 germs per square inch, while desks had 21,000 germs per square inch, and phones topped the charts at 25,000 per square inch!

You can help reduce your chances of getting sick, and getting those you work with sick, by simply cleaning things up a bit. Get a box of antibacterial wipes and keep them at your desk. Wipe down your area weekly, or daily, and reduce the spread of illness inducing bacteria with just a few seconds worth of effort. Encourage others to do the same. Smart business owners are offering hand sanitizers and wipes to customers at every corner. Take the same safe strategy for your own workspace and save yourself some unnecessary sniffles this cold and flu season.

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