Unhealthy, bad-mannered, repulsive to others.
But say what you like, more than half of us eat at our desks – and we aren’t going to stop.
Yes, it demonstrates job insecurity. Yes, it encourages an obsessive-compulsive work ethic. But just try and stop it, and you’ll have a revolt on your hands.
Better to go with the flow. And at least try to make things healthier and easier.
Start with self-preservation
Healthier for sure.
Just compare what happens AFTER you’ve noshed your graze.
In a restaurant – if you’re that posh – they’ll whip away the tablecloth and replace it with a fresh one. New cutlery and glasses are laid, straight out of the dishwasher. Fresh, clean and ready to go for the next punters.
Fast food joints also get the treatment. The debris gets bused away and the hard plastic table gets a spray and a sanitiser wipe down. Usually dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride, known as a “quat” compound – probably Clorox, Signet, or a house solution like No 2.
Both at least present clean, welcoming surfaces with a low risk of germs.
So how about your desk?
Not even OCD types go the whole hog and wipe down everything after eating. Which means every day, the cumulative yuck gets worse.
For starters, it’s pretty well impossible to eat any meal without dropping crumbs or other bits. Gooey stuff too. Mayonnaise out of a salad wrap, tomato sauce off chips, jam squidged out of a doughnut.
Yeah, maybe you’ve got a tissue for that. Or some toilet roll from the loo. But no wet wipes, hey? Antibacterial or otherwise. And certainly not dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride.
The start of the yuck factor
Oh sure, sure. The cleaning team wipe down desks in the evening when they come in. Probably the same damp cloth for all the desks. A lick and a promise at best, just removing the day’s dust.
Which means the gunge and goo and other stuff gets to stay there. Waiting for you, next time.
And what’s it going to be when it happens? Something good and slimming from M&S? Snazzy from Pret A Manger? Cheesy decadence from Domino’s? Or pastry indulgence from Greggs?
All good and easy to eat. Especially on the go. Head down and staring at the laptop. Free hand hovering with the next mouthful.
Hold it, right there. You’re eating with your fingers? Not exactly stylish, but hey.
Though please say you washed your hands before you started. That you didn’t just rush out early to beat the lunch queue, then nip back and start munching. Or that you’re using the keyboard while you do that, licking your fingers to get the gravy off.
Gruesome yes, but that’s what most us do without thinking. And curse the tummy bug we always seem to be getting. Must be something to do with the office, carpets giving off or whatever.
Saving you from yourself
OK, the hell with that – get a rescue pack.
Less than 50p and you can get a bottle of hand gel to sit on your desk. Keep yourself safe whenever you start anything new – quicker and easier than running to the washroom.
Wet wipes too are probably under a quid. Handy in your top drawer for a quick wipe down first thing – and again before you eat.
Don’t forget to lift things up and do underneath. Especially your laptop – that yuck line of crumbs and smears comes back daily otherwise.
You should wipe the keys too. Look at them against the light and you can see the glaze of goo clinging there. And don’t forget your touchscreens.
Ever looked at your phone closely after a call? Make-up, facial grease, dead skin flakes and street dust. You don’t want to know.
Because so far in this rant, we haven’t mentioned germs. All we’ve been on about is how everything gets dirty even though we can’t see it most of the time.
But you’d better believe there’s germs around Big Time because of that dirt. And still hanging around AFTER cleaning as well, because no rub and scrub method in the world can reach all the places that germs congregate.
So face it. At any one time in your working day, your desk is exposing you to the risks of e.coli, salmonella, clostridium difficile, campylobacter, the superbug MRSA, cold and flu viruses and norovirus – and those are just the usual suspects.
Plus of course, these germs transfer onto everything that touches your desk too. Your hands, the memos in your in-tray, stapler, phone, calculator, lamp, mouse-pad, business cards, whatever.
And THEY transfer to whatever touches them. Which is how your colleagues get the same tummy bug you have. And you get that skin rash they’ve got.
All of which means wash your hands whenever you can. Cleanse them whenever you can’t get to soap and water. And start being paranoid about keeping your desk clean.
Because you wouldn’t eat at a restaurant where they didn’t clean the table, would you? Get served your food on the remnants of everybody else’s. But that’s what we’re doing at our desks.
It’s not just ON our desks either. It’s AROUND them. The cupboards, the chairs, the shelving, all the wires down the back.
Plus in the AIR.
All those germy things are so small, even smoke particles are 1,000 times bigger. Which means they float, riding every swirl and eddy. So light, they may never come down. Ready for you to swallow or breathe in. Right through the empty space that’s 80% of any room.
Clean your hands, clean your desk – those guys can still get you.
Unless your boss is smart and gets them first. Blitzes them to nothing with a Hypersteriliser – the automated germ killer that mists up the whole place with hydrogen peroxide. Viruses and bacteria are oxidised to oblivion, nothing, gone.
All germs are eliminated – including from unreachable cracks and crevices, the bits that never get cleaned. And your desk of course – on top, underneath, everywhere. You’re safe.
Now, you want to do lunch? Your desk is ready – and germ-free.
Picture Copyright: grinvalds / 123RF Stock Photo