Get a third more from your staff without paying any extra – and they’ll love you for it

Counting the pennies
It’s money you’ve already spent – but you get it back with interest. Full staff effort 100% of the time, everybody motivated and going for it

Good staff, are they? All solid professionals.

Worth every penny that you pay them.

If only you were  getting full value.

You’re not, you know. And here’s why.

You’ve allowed for holidays, right? And probably around six days sick leave.

Yes, that’s about a month off, because you’re understanding and reasonable – part of the cost of doing business.

But you’ve left out the rest.

Those days when they’re not feeling all that hot. Scratchy throat maybe – a headache and a sniffle. Or a churning gut ache that has them running to the loo.

The unwell-at-work overhead

Yes, but they’re pros. Committed and going for it.

So they force themselves to work, come what may. Clenched teeth and popping paracetamol – but at their desks and determined. A compliment to your motivational skills.

Better ask yourself though, how productive they are, feeling like that. Up to speed, yes. But struggling to keep going – battling to keep focus, cross-eyed following detail.

Sure you recognise the symptoms – you’ve been there yourself. You’re at work, but not really – underpowered and you know it, going through the motions.

Presenteeism, it’s called. Being unwell at work. Like absenteeism, but way more common. Up to 57.5 days a year, according to a GCC study validated by the World Health Organization. Almost ten times more than days off sick, nearly three working months.

And that’s the average.

Bottom line on salaries – you’re paying for twelve months on every staff member. But in actual productivity, you’re only getting nine.

Sloppy work costs money

That’s not all you’re paying for either.

There’s the quality of work and the consequences of not being fully alert. Mistakes get made when staff aren’t on the ball. Deadlines get missed, customers get second best, service standards slip – the costs can be ginormous.

You can’t penalise your staff though. Being unwell is a fact of life. It’s not their fault. Or yours either.

Actually, without pussy-footing around, probably both of you are to blame.

All you have to ask is, why? Why are staff unwell at work?

For staff members, ten-to-one it’s a lapse of hygiene. Most if not all minor illnesses are caused by dirty hands – or transmitted to hands in a dirty environment. Trouble is, since germs are so small they’re invisible, our hands don’t LOOK dirty, even when they are.

Which kind of explains why:

It also underlines the harsh reality – that most minor illnesses, colds, flu, tummy bugs, etc – are all self-inflicted.

Better hygiene, or lose money

OK, you can’t force staff into better habits. But put bottles of antibacterial gel or handy wipes on every desk where they can’t miss them, and the problem should reduce big time.

That’s not all though, because it’s you who provides the workplace. Part of your duty of care is to ensure staff are safe when they’re in there. From germs – as well as hot and cold, dark conditions and pelting rain.

It is the law, for instance, to protect staff from legionnaire’s disease – just one kind of bacteria out of the billions we are exposed to every day. Neglect this, and you could be heavily fined, possibly even go to prison.

And there’s plenty of other germs that are just as inconvenient or deadly.

Salmonella, norovirus, campylobacter or e.coli are all stomach bugs easily picked up off light switches, door handles, keyboards or touch screens. Catch one of them in your workplace and your entire staff could be down for days.

There’s also the air that staff breathe – 80% of the space within the workplace that never gets cleaned – most cleaning services just don’t have the capability. Yet workplace air is how bugs like colds and flu transfer – not forgetting legionnaire’s disease.

And there’s always germs to pick up. Our own body cells are outnumbered by colonised bacteria more than ten times over – and every one of us trails our own “signature” cloud of germs around with us.

All change, all win

Get rid of the germs and the whole ballgame changes.

If staff aren’t exposed to germs, they can’t get sick. They don’t take days off – and they don’t drag themselves into work unwell, fumbling through their jobs and infecting their colleagues. At a stroke, those 57.5 days of presenteeism – almost three working months – no longer happen.

You get 100% of your staff, 100% of the time – a whole third up on the 75% of the time you get now.

So how’s it done?

Quite simply, by sterilising the place. Oxidising all germs to oblivion so they’re harmless. All bacteria, all viruses, all fungi, all moulds – gone.

Your own cleaning service can do it, on top of their usual schedule after staff have gone home.  Simply mist the place up with hydrogen peroxide and the deed is done. No germs anywhere, your staff are safe.

And safe means secure. Staff feel confident. They’re healthy and well, full of energy and go. They WANT to do things, to achieve, to excel. Like endorphins kicking in after a session at the gym, they respond to the feel-good of being up and ready for anything.

They love their job, they love their colleagues, they love you.

Double or quits

So it’s your choice.

Stay as you are now and hope your staff keep healthy. Or make sure there’s no doubt of it and win yourself a third more productivity with your existing resources – absolutely free.

More productivity, minimal cost and everybody motivated.

Makes you think how all that drive and commitment would look on your balance sheet, hey?

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Germs outbreak at work: your disaster plan is ready

Worried businesswoman on phone
An outbreak? Don’t panic. Get the professionals to sterilise the place. No germs, no illnesses. Call 07776 451222.

Disaster is right. Any outbreak is. For the people involved and from the money angle too.

You could lose thousands, maybe millions, if this isn’t handled right.

So it’s handy to have a plan you KNOW is going to work. To fix it so the germs are gone and everybody is safe. And to be sure they won’t come back again, at least in the immediate future.

It’s an easy plan too. For whatever outbreak you might have. E. coli, flu, SARS, norovirus, or something more serious – even anthrax or typhoid.

With jet travel so quick from all kinds of possible trouble spots around the world, you never know what might come home on your suitcase.

Plan for the worst, hope for the best

Get your people out of there. Send home the ones who are sick if they’re not already in hospital. Notify your cleaners you have a hazardous job to be done. After that, seal off the place.

Then just call one phone number. 07776 451222.

That’ll bring a hit team of health protection professionals with all their gear – ready on your doorstep within 24 hours, anywhere in mainland UK.

First off, they’ll need to know the place is cleaned. If it isn’t, because of the health risk, they’ll have to direct your cleaning team – or bring in one of their own. Cleaning is essential before any hazards can be removed.

One number in your area – 07776 451222

Eliminate all germs

Then what the team will do is sterilise. Mist the place up with ionised hydrogen peroxide that penetrates everywhere. That destroys all germs on contact – oxidises all viruses, bacteria, mould and fungi so everything is dead.

Your place is now safe to re-enter, all germs are gone. And with no germs around, nobody can catch anything. Your outbreak is over.

Nor will it come back because the mist disperses everywhere, including deep into cracks and crevices – the unreachable places that hand cleaning cannot touch. And the air space too – around 80% of every working area. You can tell it has worked because all smells are gone.

Once bitten…

A word of caution though. The place might be sterile, but any staff members who are still infected can upset everything if they come back early.

Likewise, the cause of your outbreak. If it’s from some integral deficiency – like damp in the walls, poor ventilation or excessive heat – this kind of quick fix will need to be done again. And again, and again, and again – until the root problem is solved.

Bear in mind too, that the sterile condition wears off.

Just like we clean our teeth every day to maintain safe personal hygiene, so regular treatment is necessary to keep germ levels low.

We all of us carry around our own personal germ cloud with us. We’re even made of bacteria anyway.  Scientist now know that 90% of our bodies are colonies  of benign and beneficial bacteria – only 10% of us are human .

And working closely together in the same space as we so often are, we are constantly exposed to each other’s microbiomes, as they’re called. Most often, not a health issue of any kind – but not always.

That’s how cross-infections happen. One person gets a bug – and it goes around like wildfire. Coughs, colds, and others more serious. Exactly how your outbreak spread in the first place.

… and don’t come back

Regular hygiene treatments however reduce these hazards. Not just for staff going sick, but for those with a minor ailment that sets them off colour. Not serious enough to stay home, but enough to feel like it’s the end of the world at work.

Underpowered staff at half speed for as much as 60 days a year or three working months – a major drain on productivity, particularly with mistakes and concentration below par.

Which could make your outbreak a blessing in disguise.

Alert now to the dangers of workplace germs, your regular hygiene treatments can actually boost your bottom line. Staff feel more healthy, better motivated, more committed to get-up-and-go.

Good thinking, Number One, your disaster plan is working.

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Avoidable: the invisible overhead you’re always paying a bomb for

Stealing money
You don’t see it, but germs at work steal a whopping chunk of income every year, and we do nothing

Can’t see it yet? Of course not, it’s invisible.

So here’s a clue.

Look around your office, count the empty desks.

People off sick, work not happening, lost revenue – we’re talking absentees, right?

Nice try, but that’s not it.

Now count the desks with people who look under-par.

Martyrs sick at work

Head down, avoiding your gaze because of a headache. Rheumy eyed. Sniffling. Twisting with gut ache. Waiting till you’ve gone to run to the loo – again.

They’re your walking wounded. Martyrs all. The ones who shouldn’t be at work, but came anyway. Sick as dogs,  feeling like death. About as useful as elephants on roller skates.

Yeah, we’ve all been there – including yourself. More liability than asset. Going through the motions, making mistakes, just wishing it was time to go home.

57 days a year, we’re like that. Almost three working months. Not sick enough to take leave, but not well enough to be on top of things either. Blundering on with some bug we probably caught at work anyway – because that’s where we spend most of our time.

Always at risk

Some bug at work. How sensible is that?

We wouldn’t expose ourselves to noxious fumes or toxic chemicals. Too dangerous, impossible to do business.

Yet we expose ourselves to other hazards every day without a thought. Invisible, so we don’t even twig that they are there. Always and every day, waiting to do us down. We can’t see germs.

We sure as hell know when they hit us though – and still we do nothing.

Totally crazy, right?

If the germs were a notifiable disease like polio, or mumps, or SARS, the Health & Safety people would be all over us, trying to shut us down.

Yeah, but they’re invisible, see? Rotten, horrible germs. How can we plan for hazards we can’t see?

We don’t see them, so we don’t think of them. Not lazy, just not on the radar. But dangerous, just the same. And big money losers too.

Just a hint of legionnaire’s disease and we’re hauled into court, fined, shackled with a criminal record and lucky if we don’t get nailed with a custodial sentence.

OK, it’s against the law to gloss over hazards like legionnaire’s disease. Every business is responsible for the safety of its staff. To protect them from hazards like dangerous germs and care for their health. And legionnaire’s is one the law gets tough on.

Where’s the protection?

But how nuts is it that we don’t have protection from any others?

There’s billions of germs all around us and we do nothing. Not even wash our hands if we’re honest – which 95% of us don’t even bother to do properly.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

And it costs money, money, money.

Utterly nuts because it’s all avoidable, just by taking precautions.

If there’s no germs, we can’t get sick. And if we’re not sick, there’s nothing to stop us working at full power. Nothing to stop us going to the top, ready to take on the world.

All it takes to stop germs is to make the place sterile. Which your cleaning service can do right alongside the nightly swamp-out of desks and waste bins after everyone goes home.

Push button easy

Easy peasy, and about as difficult as using a vacuum cleaner.

A lot less effort though, machines do it automatically. Press a button and forty minutes later, all those invisible germs are dead.

So instead of paying a bomb, you’re saving a bomb. Instead of being underpowered, you’re firing on all four. No more invisible hazards, more like visible money-making.

Come on! What are you waiting for?

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Charge more for cleaning – make your clients rich

Show me the money
Charge your clients a few hundred more – and help them recover thousands

Yes of course, charge more.

Not just for the same thing though, obviously.

For extra added oomph.

The same top-level service you give at the moment. Plus the chance for your clients to claw back costs they’re maybe not even aware they’re paying.

£2,000 per employee per year – possibly 10 times that.

Value for money plus

Worth a bob or two if they’re going to recover that kind of money don’t you think? And as you’ll see, worth every penny.

Because you’re not just going to clean the place, you’re going to eliminate all the germs as well. Make your clients’ workplaces sterile – protecting staff, customers and suppliers from any kind of virus or bacteria. Genuinely worth it to charge more.

No, no – not with a deep clean. You’ve been that road before and it’s just hard work.

Yes, a deep clean is more than you usually do, but with lots of rubbing and scrubbing. It doesn’t really take out ALL germs though, does it? Despite the strong smell of bleach, there’s still germs lurking, waiting to come back. And if you haven’t experienced that, you’ve never dealt with norovirus.

Besides, with the best will in the world, rubbing and scrubbing cannot reach every single nook and cranny to be sure the place is safe. Nor does it touch the air, which is 80% of most room spaces. Plenty of germs floating around in it though, remember how you caught your last bout of flu?

Claw back big money

Should give you a clue of how your clients will recover big money though. And why  you can charge more.

Get rid of the germs and you instantly chop a whole load of absentee costs.

People might be off sick, but they’re still on the payroll, even if they don’t receive sick pay. And the hole they leave by their absence has to be paid for as well. Doubling up, or getting in temps, it all costs money. And EVERYBODY goes sick at least once a year.

But that’s not the half of it, as you’ll know from running your own business.

The big costs come with “presenteeism”. Unwell people who drag themselves into work anyway. All in their places, going through the motions – and feeling like the end of the world doing it.

Yeah? Not very productive, is it?

Like having a car that’s off tune. Twice as much fuel to do the same thing, but without any performance. No power, no acceleration, no going up hills. Better off in the garage until it gets fixed. An unreliable resource.

And just think of the costs.

Invisible losses

According to the CIPD  (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development), absenteeism averages at four days off work a year and costs an employer £522. Presenteeism is reckoned as costing 3 times that, bringing the total to £2,088 per employee per year.

OK, now getting rid of all germs is not going to turn things around completely. Accidents, backache and non-communicable illnesses like IBS account for a large chunk. But colds, flu and all kinds of tummy bugs are par for the course in most workplaces. Mostly accepted as that’s the way life is, you have to live with it.

Except take away the germs and they disappear. Personnel are less likely cross-infect each other. Less likely to get ill. Less likely to be half-well, pretending they’re at full power. Good reason to charge more.

Which suddenly relieves a whole load of productivity costs, doesn’t it?

Especially when the CIPD estimates are more modest than they might be. American experts put typical presenteeism “outages” at 57.5 days a year, almost 3 working months per employee per year. A heck of a whack to pay for something you’re not getting.

Thousands and THOUSANDS

Compare that with research by Oxford Economics that puts the cost of bringing a NEW employee up to speed from nothing at £30,000. That’s from zero productivity to “sort of” knowing the job in anywhere from 23 to 32 weeks. Not far off an experienced veteran, feeling like death, slogging away at 25% of normal capabilities, determined to shrug off a tummy bug.

Those aren’t the only costs either. How many mistakes does that same veteran make, not being able to concentrate properly? How many forgotten contacts? How many missed deadlines? How many cost issues could have been avoided by somebody fully alert and on the ball?

Big bucks, right? Money your clients are ALREADY LOSING, just by being normal. Thousands and thousands. More than off-setting the extra you might charge for getting rid of germs in the first place. And way more effective that just cleaning and making tidy.

So if not labour-intensive rubbing and scrubbing, how’s it done?

You’re going to love this.

Press the button

Just press a button.

Get yourself a Hypersteriliser machine, wheel it in, set the exposure time and as soon as your cleaning team has finished their regular work, hit start.

The place mists up with an ultra-fine spray of ionised hydrogen peroxide. So fine, it’s more gas than vapour – actually a gas plasma. The ionising makes it electrostatically charged – forcibly dispersing it in all directions, deep into cracks and crevices, hard up against all surfaces.

Underneath and behind everything too. The stuff permeates everywhere – that same charge reaching out and grabbing at viruses and bacteria like a magnet. Clamped on tight, oxygen atoms rip the germs’ cell structure to shreds. They are oxidised to nothing, eliminated, gone.

Forty minutes later and the place is sterile. No germs, no effort, no problem. Including the high-touch high-risk “fomite” areas that normal cleaning never reaches – keyboards, touch screens, light switches, lift buttons.

Charge more, it’s OK

Worth it to charge more for your range of services? On the cost recovery alone, how can your clients refuse? Thousands and thousands accepted as unavoidable till now, one of the overheads of doing business. An instant boost to their bottom line.

Yours too, for very little effort. All-automatic and push-button easy. A daily or weekly hygiene routine as essential as brushing your teeth. Good, steady, repeat business you can rely on.

Charge more? Sure, go ahead.

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How good is your protection for your greatest business assets?

Sick woman exec
Prevent, not cure – taking medicine means you’ve already lost a stack of money

By business assets we mean people, right? Earning power. Protecting company income.

Sure, sure, all of those things. And yes, you have a plan.

At least, OK, you’ve got insurance. Not really protection though, is it? More like disaster recovery. Makegood payout AFTER things go wrong. Nothing to reverse your calmity – or prevent it happening in the first place.

After the event

Because the damage is already done, isn’t it? Whatever happened – lost business, unforseen write-offs – it’s never coming back. Whatever opportunity or advantage you had is gone and all you have is money.

The real work is in starting all over again. Re-energising, finding momentum, renewing contacts or finding new ones. The whole business of rebuilding from scratch.

Big bucks, big effort. Daunting enough to make you pack it in and go home.

You might be sitting on a pile of money, but you need a whole lot more to re-invest in the future. More risk, more worry, more sleepless nights.

And all entirely preventable.

Avoiding sickness saves money

Staff, customers – keep people hunky-dory and everything should be fine. Properly motivated, feeling committed, wanting to get on and do things.

All of which are probably objectives high on your list of people priorities. But none of them achievable if they’re not feeling so good.

When people get sick, they’re not on song.

At best they’re irritable, grumpy and short on attention. Down in productivity maybe 50% or more. Which means you’re paying double to get your usual results out of them.

Add the headache that makes them ignore stuff, and reluctance to apply real effort – they might as well not be there at all. Send them home, you’re already paying for them to do nothing anyway.

On top of which, they could be infecting everyone around them. So suddenly you’re a whole team down – not producing, not moving things forward, not maintaining relationships that are the life-blood of any business.

Germs are super-expensive

OK, and what if it’s something more than the sniffles, or a tummy twinge? Flu or norovirus are the usual trouble-makers – and both can do big damage to your balance sheet.

Norovirus particularly, is a big money loser. Sudden, violent and super-potent, it’s developed itself to spread as far and wide as possible – ensuring as many victims as possible can get it.

Without warning, one of your staff gets up with a howl and runs for the loo. They don’t make it and upchuck all over the floor. Pick themselves up and run again, stuff squirting through their clothing.

Gruesome yes, but dangeous too. The whole place is highly contagious. Other staff members WILL succumb going anywhere near it – and normal cleaning procedures are useless at getting rid of it.

Until it’s entirely destroyed, it’s a health hazard that can last up to a month or more. And it doesn’t just spread on contact. Every molecule is lighter than air – and it only takes 10 of them, microscopically smaller than a pinpoint, to infect someone.

A fortune for you, big money world-wide

£44 billion – that’s the LOST PRODUCTIVITY bill for norovirus worldwide every year. But nobody even calculates the LOST REVENUE cost, it’s too astronomically high.

So ask yourself, how much money are you going to lose with a norovirus outbreak in your place?

And how are you going to stop it coming back – over and over again, which it does, pretty well every time? And that’s despite steam cleaning, scrubbing with bleach till everyone’s head spins and even SHUTTING THE PLACE DOWN for a month or more.

Can’t afford it, huh? Who can?

Well you don’t have to.

Because now, you have it within your power to eradicate germs completely. No viruses, no bacteria, no moulds, no fungi – to provide a completely safe and sterile environment.

How to save thousands

If there’s no germs, nobody can catch anything. Nobody gets sick, your investment in people is protected – safe and secure BEFORE anything happens.

Somebody can of course, bring in an illness they’ve picked up from outside. In fact ALL of us trail germ clouds around with us. And since we’re not all immune to the same things in the same way, sterilising the place becomes a regular maintenance event – not a one-off you-pays-your-money-now-hop-it situation.

How’s it done?

It couldn’t be easier – which might make you wish you’d thought of protecting your people assets -and their carefully chosen income-generating skills – yonks ago.

All it takes is to mist up the place with ionised hydrogen peroxide at the end of the day when all of your assets have gone down in the lift and home. The machine that does it is a Hypersteriliser – and the time taken is around 40 minutes depending on room size.

What happens is the ionised mist spreads everywhere through the room, filling the air and penetrating deep into cracks. As it does so, it electrostically grabs at viruses and bacteria wherever they are and oxidises them. Oxygen atoms rip through their cell walls and they are gone, baby – a one-way ticket to oblivion. All of them to 99.9999% – a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6.

Recover costs, feel better

Now stack that up against the thousands you could already be paying for absenteeism and diminished performance costs – probably even without realising it – and just possibly it becomes a facility you cannot do without.

Crazy, isn’t it? We all accept getting sick as a fact of life, without really ever doing anything about it. But once you realise that it’s assets you’re protecting – and your most valuable ones at that – it seems more like an essential.

One thing’s for sure. Once you get your head round this, the penny quickly drops that your most expensive option is to do nothing.

And what business couldn’t do with a few extra thousand swelling the balance sheet?

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Ra, ra, workplace wellness – but what happens about workplace illness?

Dead girl on floor
Shouldn’t workplace wellness be more about avoiding illness?

Go round the mega-buck companies – the movers and shakers of the Fortune 500 – and workplace wellness is already the Next Big Thing. Must-have, sexy, feel-good for employees like never before.

Informal work spaces, laid-back management, on-site gym facilities, gourmet food round the clock, designer décor, therapeutic lighting, specialist ventilation, everything that opens and shuts.

The employee is Number One

Yeah, plus the stress goes with it. Only super-achievers get the full treatment. And super-achievers either super-achieve, or they’re on the next Lear jet out. Only the best of the best to keep the bottom line in the stratosphere.

Big bucks, big incentives, super-big on health and physical fitness – but nobody mentions the G-word.

Not possible, say the techno-geeks. HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters in the air conditioning don’t allow it. Super-effective down to less than 2 microns, no germs can get through it.

And there – almost glossed over – is the dreaded G-word.

Germs.

Invisible in wellness guru vocabularies. Invisible on hands, clothing, surfaces and in the air. Our biggest threat to wellness, in the workplace or anywhere – disdained or in denial.

Germs? No, no, let’s stick to issues we can see, the latest sexy lycra, follow the wellness fashion. Big help, especially for our colleagues trapped by obesity – how condescending can we get?

Chubby, overweight staff, sitting for hours at computer screens? There’s workout  programmes and personal trainers to help them shift the lard.

Headaches and anxiety attacks from pressure of work? There’s psychiatric care and counselling  right there on the premises.

Not sexy

But a gut-wrenching tummy bug going round because some hot-desking hot-shot didn’t wash his hands before chowing down  on the company’s famous double-layer pizza?

Hey, these things happen – everybody gets sick sometime.

Not wellness though, is it?

And for all the fitness investment and feng shui environment, entirely preventable and unnecessary.

So what’s the deal in germ prevention with most workplace wellness setups?

Yeah, those wellness initiatives about health and wellbeing are all good – right across the whole leadership, alignment, relevance, accessibility, partnerships and communications thing.

But germs aren’t on the memo list and don’t understand them anyway.

Which means let iffy hygiene take hold in any office, and illness can run through those high-earning super-achievers like wildfire.

Yeah OK, the washroom facilities are the finest in the land. All infrared, no-touch, state-of-the art – except who’s using the stuff?

The hard facts are that while 99% of people claim to wash their hands after going to the loo, only 32% of men and 64% of women actually do.

And out of those who actually do wash, a whopping 95% of them don’t even do the job properly.

Looking cool, in hospital?

Because let’s face it, a few seconds waggling fingers under the tap is not going to stop experienced germs like clostridium difficile or escherichia coli for one second. Get them in the wrong place and it’s a week in hospital for sure.

All it takes is sticky fingers in the first dish of good improving carrot and celery crudités, and those germs are down the throat quick as a flash.

Give it four hours, eight, and the bill arrives. End-of-the-world cramps, violent howitzer vomiting, hell-fire diarrhoea and the over-powering wish to be dead.

Uh huh. Thousands spent on glitzy washrooms, daylight balanced lighting and fragranced air.

But a couple of tenners could put a fresh pack of hand-wipes on every desk every day – or sofa-side coffee table, if that’s the way people choose to work.

Standing open of course, to encourage use. The superstars might be in a rush getting away from the loo – but in-your-face all the time at their work station might swing it. You can lead a horse to water…

Clean hands of course, are only part of it.

Yeah, the HEPA filters do their job, but it’s a fact of life all of us are surrounded by an invisible cloud of billions of bacteria and micro body-waste – hair, dead skin cells, etc – our personal signature microbiome.

These personal germ IDs are so potent, they colonise and take over any room within hours, displacing the germ-clouds of anyone previously there. And of course they mingle and cross-exchange with the microbiomes of our other colleagues as well.

Everyday germ threshold

All these on top of the background colonies of billions of bacteria present throughout the room and on every surface anyway – a fact of life we’re never aware of. And off the radar for most wellness gurus as well.

A heck of an influence on every one of us though. Our own microbiomes don’t affect us of course, they’re our beneficial bacteria, inside and out. So many trillions of them that we’re more bacteria than human – all our body cells together are only 10% of who we are.

Most of the other germs are hostile though, kept at bay by our own bacteria – who either outnumber them to crowd them out, or attack and eat them.

Unless of course, those hostiles find a way into our bodies. Off a dirty table, a computer keypad, a lift call button, on documents, our own mobile – or picked up in the air, interacting with the microbiomes of others around us.

One man’s meat is another man’s poison, right?

The same with our personal bacteria. Especially when most of us have some underlying condition or other that is our weakness – asthma, IBS, muscular wasting – anything that makes us vulnerable to unfamiliar foreign pathogens.

Other people’s bacteria.

Avoiding illness

Which means forget spending a mint on inspirational colour schemes and murals to set off the walls. Rather spend a few hundred getting rid of all the germs every night, so the place is safe and sterile in the morning. Yes, it can be done – and all it takes is the touch of a button, how sexy is that?

Yeah sure, the germ clouds will come back as people arrive for work, so it will have to be done every night – a bit like cleaning our teeth. Well, we’re always eating right? So we need to brush against tooth decay, bad breath and yellow teeth.

Same thing with getting rid of our ambient workplace germs. To remove smells, infection threats and keep us healthy.

Which makes it the other side of workplace wellness.

The side nobody remembers because it’s out of sight and not sexy – but probably the most important side of all.

Keeping well by AVOIDING ILLNESS.

So easy – and a fraction of the cost of wow-factor surroundings.

Good clean living.

Now what workplace can be weller than that?

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Vomit at the office: who’s liable – and what for?

One sick lady
Not nice, ever. Not nice knowing you probably caused it either

Oh no! Vomit at the office. Professional cool and polish, gone in an instant. Feeling awful – and degraded – the end of the world.

Not your fault though, right? You couldn’t help it. One minute OK, the next…

Except the inconvenient truth is, it probably WAS your fault. Not deliberate or anything like that, but highly likely it was CAUSED by you.

We’re ALL bad

Now don’t feel bad, we’re all probably just as guilty. Because nine times out of ten your unfortunate experience is not caused by something you ate. More than likely it was from something you swallowed after touching it by hand.

Easily done – that hasty pastry gulped down with your flat white before the all-important 9.00 meeting. Eaten with your fingers, right? You had to lick the icing off afterwards. Four or five hours for the stuff to get down to your gut and react with your internal bacteria…

Excuse me, I don’t feel so good.

Upchuck all over the conference room floor.

The blame game

So how is it your fault? You didn’t do anything. That horrible heave-ho came out of nowhere.

Ah, that’s just the point. You didn’t do anything. And that’s why the rest of us are probably just as guilty. Because the one thing we’re always NOT doing though we know we should, is wash our hands.

Especially after going to the loo and before eating food. Yes, it’s shocking, but 62% of men and 40% of women NEVER wash their hands after going to the toilet.

Worse, 95% of people don’t ever take the time to wash their hands properly.

And just so you can recognise how easily your awful experience happened to you, only 12% of people ever wash their hands before eating.

Which means…

You can see it can’t you? Running late because the tubes were crowded and you couldn’t get on. Mad dash to the office via the coffee shop. Quick detour to the loo and check make-up. Gulp coffee and pastry – you burnt your mouth remember? Grab your laptop and go. 30 seconds to spare and your presentation was on first. No time to wash your hands – you just got unlucky.

Because most of the time we get away with it. This time, you just got caught.

Noro nasty

Better hope it’s not norovirus though – or any of the other real nasties. Four, five hours? It usually takes longer, more like eight. And it won’t be just your fault you made yourself sick – you could bring the whole office down.

You see, norovirus is highly contagious and gruesomely efficient. That’s why it spreads so explosively – the world record for long distance vomit – and don’t even think about the diarrhoea.

OK, so you slink home in a taxi, new silk blouse and your jacket ruined, icky vomit all through your hair. So what happens with the clean up?

Yeah well, it’s one of those accidents nobody is prepared for. Paper towels and dishwashing liquid in the kitchen, bleach if they’re lucky. Wrinkled noses and pulled faces attacking the patch on the carpet. Hopefully the night cleaning crew will fix it when they swamp out in the evening.

Except they won’t be prepared either, norovirus is smarter than that. Shampoo the wet patch, OK. Vomit gone.

And the rest of the room around that? The chair legs? The conference table? The air itself? Norovirus particles are as small as 2 microns, too small to see, finer than cigarette smoke – so they could be floating around for anything up to a week.

Everybody gets it, easy

All it takes is 10 particles, on somebody’s cheek, scraped together as they rub their eye, into the soft tissue round the cornea – next victim, prepped and ready. Picked up by others too – off the conference table, the door handle, the light switch – half a dozen targets.

They go to their desks, wake up their computers. Norovirus on the keyboards, the desk phone, the meeting minutes they circulate to their colleagues.

Tomorrow morning, a dozen staff calling sickies – with more to come because the germs are still in the air, still on all the high-touch areas not processed by the swamp-out team. The whole office down – vomit, cramps, diarrhoea, the works.

Your fault. You could get sued.

Well, yes. To begin with.

But also the company’s.

They have a duty of care to ensure the workplace is safe to work in – the floors are solid, the place doesn’t leak, there’s no mould, or drafts, or rats running around, and you don’t shock yourself half to death flipping the light switches.

And there’s no germs.

How safe is safe?

For instance if legionnaire’s disease was lurking in the air conditioning ducts you’d quite rightly be able to sue them for not providing a safe and secure hazard-free place to work. They’d have to compensate you AND pay to have the condition fixed – possibly even face criminal charges.

Norovirus is no different – and way more common than legionnaire’s disease – more common even than flu or the common cold.

Your company might shrug it off and say it’s not their problem – but keeping desks, chairs, computers, carpets, curtains and the air itself safe from germs is just as much part of their duty of care as making sure none of you freeze to death in winter.

You started it. But everybody else came down with the bug because of them.

You didn’t wash your hands. They didn’t ensure the place was germ-free afterwards. And most of the time everyone just accepts it’s just one of those things. You failed in your duty to yourself and your colleagues. They failed in their duty of care to all of you.

Yet it’s so easily fixable. And just maybe all of you are negligent in not knowing that it is.

Hygiene defence

Your personal upchuck could have been prevented by soap and water. Or your company could have been smart and put a pack of antibacterial wipes or hand gel on everybody’s desk – because they know that staff are busy and frequently forget to wash their hands – and even though it gets wiped off every night, everybody’s workstation is a major source of hazardous germs.

No, it won’t work with heavy bleach and more elbow grease, rubbing and scrubbing. The smell will be unbearable and the airborne germs will remain untouched. Steam cleaning won’t work either – germs need very high temperatures and at least five minutes contact time to be destroyed – not possible hose-piping around so that everything is wet – ineffective against airborne germs too.

More effective and far cheaper is to eliminate germs with a Hypersteriliser.

After the usual cleaning, a wheel-bin-sized unit is rolled in to mist up the place with ionised hydrogen peroxide. Electrostatically charged, microscopic particles of hydrogen peroxide actively clamour to get away from each other, spreading everywhere, forcing themselves into every crack and crevice to escape.

That same electrostatic charge causes them to reach out and grab at viruses and bacteria everywhere – on surfaces, under them, behind things, in the air itself. Contact time is only seconds, during which the germs’ cell structure and DNA is completely destroyed.

Sterile and safe

Allow forty minutes to process the entire room and the whole place is sterilised – no germs, no nothing – safe. No law suits either, or anyone suffering upchucks. Unless they forgot to wash their hands before climbing into lunch – or there really is something off with their chicken liver pâté – not cooked enough, perhaps.

Feel better? If it’s any consolation, norovirus only lasts two or three days – unpleasant yes, but it does come to an end.

Then you can wash your hands of the whole thing.

Picture Copyright: BDS / 123RF Stock Photo

Whoops, Dame Sally – antibiotics don’t work, but clean hands aren’t good enough either

Doctor with antibiotics
OK, what are you going to do when the pills don’t work?

Yeah, yeah, yeah – we hear you.

The hand hygiene brigade are always banging on about it. Wash your hands, wash your hands.

And you, Dr Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer – you quite rightly push it further.

Wash your hands or die

Rediscover hygiene, you say. It’s a hidden truth that antibiotics don’t work any more. Superbugs have mutated to become resistant. All major surgery is under threat. It’s back to the Dark Ages – and in our only defence, if we don’t all remember to wash our hands, we’re going to die.

Dead right, Dame Sally (pun intended) – but nowhere near enough.

Clean hands might make a difference in the first microsecond – then we’re right back where we started.

Because it’s not just our hands we have to worry about. It’s everything around us.

Beyond medical

You see, as a high-powered doctor, Dame Sally is thinking in a medical sense.

Yes, she applies her principles to everyday life – to the way we behave, particularly after going to the loo. But her head is thinking hospitals and patients and operations and sterile surroundings.

Wash your hands. Yeah, well doctors and nurses do that already. It’s an ingrained way of life.

It’s the outsiders who don’t. The hospital visitors – and the great wide world beyond the front door.

And even if they did, it would never be enough. Because nothing out there is sterile.

Clean? Well, maybe.

An invisible truth

We judge clean by appearances – and all too often what we think is clean is actually loaded with germs. Looks are deceptive – which is probably why we never wash our hands enough. If they’re not visibly dirty, we reckon they’re OK.

Which means it’s an invisible truth that they’re not. Germs are so infinitesimally small, we have no idea that they’re there.

So if it’s not a sterilised area in a hospital, the very first object hands touch after washing will put billions of germs back again. Your phone, your car keys, money, the door handle to the coffee shop.

Give it five minutes and both hands will be back to normal – 10 million bacteria on each.

Wash our hands, Dame Sally? It can never be enough unless we wash our surroundings too. And not just wash for appearances – wash, scrub, disinfect, whatever, until the germs are gone.

And no, we don’t really do that at the moment. We just think we do.

Everyday germs

Take ordinary household washing up. And let’s refer here to another hygiene expert, Dr Lisa Ackerley. Millions of us do it, yet it’s a hazard highpoint of our lives – basically dipping our eating utensils into a germ soup, then spreading the germs evenly with a wiping-up cloth.

No, LOOKS clean isn’t clean – and certainly not safe from germs.

Nor is it either good enough to blitz the place with bleach and carbolic – scrubbing everything down to within an inch of its life.

Apart from the smell that could rip your head off, it never reaches right into all the dark corners. And most of the time we never remember to do UNDER surfaces or BEHIND them. Exactly the places that germs naturally gather.

It gets worse on your office desk. Because how often does that get done properly – if ever?

Nine times out of ten, a wipe-down from the night crew is the only lick and promise it ever gets. Promise of germs, that is. Because the same cloth gets used for every desk. Contact time is only seconds – and what kind of antibacterial stuff has it got on there anyway?

Looks clean, but isn’t.

Yet that’s where most of us eat lunch – with fingers that we THINK are clean – dropping crumbs, spilling sauces and getting our greasy paws over everything. Especially on that main germ transfer unit, the computer keyboard – press ENTER to guarantee collywobbles.

Yeah, no wonder we keep running to antibiotics. We take such chances with things we can’t see, a pill is our only rescue.

Kinda basic though, really – it’s way better to avoid germs in the first place.

But if washing hands isn’t enough – and even SAVAGE cleaning doesn’t crack it – what else can we do?

Especially when it’s not just surfaces that our hands touch, it’s the air around us too. Air is 80% of the space in any room, yet we never think of cleaning it. Heat it, yes. Cool it, yes. Filter it, yes. Even dehumidify it.

But apart from the HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters used in hospitals and aircraft, we never do anything to take the germs out. And there are more germs up there than anywhere else – at less than half the size of a molecule of oxygen, how could there not be?

More than hand washing

Yes, Dame Sally, we ARE washing our hands, we ARE being careful – but if our surroundings are always germ-covered, what can we do?

Yeah, well – get rid of the germs there too.

Not in the great outdoors of course – rain and wind would whip everything away in seconds – bringing new germs to replace the previous ones in the very same instant.

Ah, but we’re basically cave-dwellers, see. We huddle together in enclosed places – away from the wind and the rain, where the elements can’t get us.

And not the germs either, if we’re clever about it.

OK, this is the opposite end of looking after ourselves.

Hospital in reverse

Hospital is the back end – the last resort to rescue us from misadventure. Now we’re looking at the front end – not a doctor in sight, no antibiotics anywhere – a non-medical way of protecting ourselves from germs.

Easy, really. Room by room – enclosed space by enclosed space – we just get rid of them all.

Alright, fine. So what kills germs? And how do we take out the airborne ones – some kind of spray?

All kinds of things kill germs. Bleach, formaldehyde, ethanol, nitrous oxide – all pretty hazardous and not very safe – especially up in the air.

Way better is hydrogen peroxide – exactly like water, but with two oxygen atoms instead of one – H2O2. It’s even made by the body as a natural germ fighter – produced in the lungs, gut, and thyroid gland – and first responder to cuts and scratches, kicking in even before white blood cells arrive.

Same problem though, vaporised hydrogen peroxide has to be in a pretty strong solution (35%) to work in a spray. Hazardous to eyes, nose and throat – in molecule sizes too large to remain airborne for long. Very wet to use too, taking a long time to dry.

Ionised for effectiveness

The breakthrough is to use a weaker solution (6%) of hydrogen peroxide – allowing it to spread drier, finer and further – and ionising it on release to change its state from a gas to a plasma, an electrically charged super-vapour that disperses itself actively in all directions.

The charged plasma also releases further antimicrobials that reach out and destroy viruses and bacteria on the fly – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone (a more voracious oxidiser than hydrogen peroxide), and ultraviolet.

Close all the windows and doors, get everybody out of Dodge, put the machine in the room (it’s called a Hypersteriliser), press the button – and leave.

Forty minutes later, the whole place is sterile, safe for everybody to come back – with not a virus or bacterium to be found anywhere. No germs, no threats, no need for antibiotics.

Now, Dame Sally – doesn’t that answer your concern?

Want to live dangerously? Get yourself a desk job

Burger at desk
54% of office people eat lunch at their desks – taking one hell of a chance with their health doing it

Looks all innocent, doesn’t it?

Your stylish office workstation, finished in beech.

With the go-getter image top performers like you deserve. Plus the company iPad.

Very sexy.

Potentially lethal

And every bit as dangerous as a bullet to the head.

Because it looks all nice and neat now. But what happens at lunch time?

Too busy to stop, huh?

So did you brown-bag a sandwich, or pop down to the greasy spoon?

Not good, eating at the keyboard. Your mobile germ transporter. OK on the first day, but very quickly home to more than 7,500 bacteria – on a desk that could be harbouring 10 million more. 400 times the health hazard of an average toilet seat.

Which means, if you get even a minor skin break – a paper cut, or a stapler stab – you could wind up with a major infection.

Because your desk never really gets cleaned, does it?

False security

The swamp-out team come in every night – to vacuum the floors and empty the waste baskets. If you’re lucky, all your desk gets is a wipe with a damp cloth. The same damp cloth as all the other desks. Really just a germ transfer from one to the next.

And that’s usually it.

Nothing behind your in-trays or any stacks of documents you might have – they don’t want to mix up important papers – or cause them to go missing.

So the dust bunnies are all still at the back there – along with biscuit crumbs from your morning coffee – and the odd chip from the fries that went with your burger. Oh, and bits of last week’s chicken coronation sandwich – and the bacon butty everybody had after the power-breakfast workshop session

All kinds of nasty goodies living in there – multiplying every day. Flu germs, norovirus, e.coli and you don’t want to know what else. Even MRSA, the one hospitals dread because antibiotics don’t work against it. There’s lots of bugs like that these days – causing doctors to tear their hair out.

And have you ever heard of sepsis? There’s no resistance against that either, like all kinds of different germs, all at the same time.

Because that paper cut could very easily fester if it gets infected.

KIller threat

And everywhere your hands rest on your desk there are likely to be more germs. Any one of which could trigger sepsis and then you’re really in trouble – a meltdown of your body’s immune system that claims 37,000 lives a year in Europe – more than those killed in road accidents.

Yes, you can die from it.

Which is why, if you want to survive an office job, you’d better carry some protection.

At the very least, a set of sanitising wipes to do your hands and all the work surfaces.

Not the general cleaning kind, they’re not good enough. Make sure it says “antibacterial” on the label, you don’t want to take chances.

Even better is to persuade the boss to get a Hypersteriliser.

Safe and sterile

Every night when you go home, it mists up the whole office space with a deep-penetrating hydrogen peroxide plasma – a kind of electrically-charged super-gas. Stuff that actively grabs viruses and bacteria out of the air, and oxidises them to oblivion.

By morning, when you come in, the whole place is sterile. No germs, nothing – you and your colleagues are completely safe.

So is your desk. After the wipe-down, the hydrogen peroxide takes out every microorganism that might be hiding there. From 10 million germs to 0 – even if you don’t properly clean your keyboard or phone.

Still not a good idea to keep eating lunch there though. You need to get out more, get some fresh air, take a break, let your mind reset while you get some exercise, feel some of the wonderful world out there.

You’re a top performer, right? And you need to keep that mind sharp and stimulated.

Not dangerous at all, more like fun.

Colleagues back with holiday bug? You’re next!

Depressed businesswoman
Count on it – whatever they got, you’re coming down with it too

Be glad you didn’t meet them at the airport.

The whole plane-load came down with this one.

Holiday hangover

Loos backed up, overflowing air sick bags – even the flight crew were looking green. A real hero of a pilot too.

Not you, thank goodness – and it was even on the six o’clock news.

Three days to your own holiday and you’re not eating any of that foreign stuff. Strictly good British graze for you, no messing about.

Er, except it’s not over, till it’s over.

Sure your mates are home safe right now. Getting over it with stacks of Imodium and Buscopan. Quarantined and out of it, so everyone in the office is safe.

Glad to see them when they’re better too. Not nice to be ill. Not nice to double up more than you planned on either – extra work when you’re trying to get clear.

But they’re your pals and you like them, so you do it with a smile.

And they like you too, so you score with the pressies – holiday souvenirs to laugh over when the tummy cramps and diarrhoea are finally gone. Some kind of norovirus the Doc said.

Yeah right, just stay off the foreign food.

As if.

What goes around, comes around

Because next thing, you’re down with the same bug too. Out of action, honking your guts out, and you haven’t even packed your bags yet.

Quick! On the phone to the airline. Are you ATOL protected? What about your insurance? You’ve GOT to cancel. Aargh!

Next thing is, why? Why you?

Your mates brought back a bug, they stayed home till they were clean, then you got it. How come?

Look no further those pressies – fridge magnets, coffee mug, T-shirt, pen, music box, bottle of booze, beach towel, souvenir hat, whatever. Fomites, all of them.

So what’s fomites?

The things you touch, that other people touch, that carry germs. Which is everything else in the office too, right? Including the door handles, lift buttons, computer keyboards, phones, light switches, photocopier, you name it.

Because it’s a nasty fact of life that though nobody’s sick, the germs that can make them that way can live for sometimes weeks out in the open.

And not just on fomites.

In the air too

We each of us trail around our own personal bio-aura of bacteria – our signature cloud of microorganisms unique to us – viruses, bacteria, fungi, moulds, dust, whatever.

And this stuff is so light it can hover and linger in the air for days and weeks, waiting to land on somebody and find a new home.

You.

Uh huh.

Your pals came back to work clean, but the bio-aura they brought from home could still carry the bug they suffered. They’re safe, but not your work place.

Yup, the whole office is bugged – inhabited by the same norovirus nasty that flew back from holiday with them.

Which means the only way you’re going to avoid coming down with it – and everybody else who hasn’t yet had a dose – is to nail all those viruses and bacteria before they nail you.

Effective debugging

Not every office has a Hypersteriliser yet.

But with dangerous germs so easily transferred by jet travel – and medical science discovering more and more of them are resistant to antibiotics – such machines could soon become as familiar as window blinds.

Because without major effort or turning the place upside down, one Hypersteriliser can make any room totally sterile and safe from germs in as little forty minutes. No viruses, no bacteria – every microorganism in the place, gone.

It does it by misting up the place with ionised hydrogen peroxide – the same stuff that may have sparked life itself on Earth – actively spreading through the air, into cracks and crevices, oxidising viruses and bacteria to nothing.

Haven’t got one in your office yet?

Let’s hope they get one, before too many people go on leave. Or before winter comes with its latest version of bird flu.

Unless they do – and unless you’re meticulous about always washing your hands – you’re next, for sure.