How to Minimize Cold and Flu Germs

Julie Shenkman
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If you worry about getting sick in the workplace, there are a few things you can do to keep your office clean and keep illness at bay. Knowing what steps to take and what hazards to avoid are critical in preventing the transmission of illness in the office.

Clean Your Office Surfaces

Cleaning your office surfaces is very easy. Swiping an antibacterial wipe over your keyboard, desk top, and even the door handles every day before you leave is ideal, and it only takes a moment. Make sure to get the buttons, the ear piece and the receiver on your office phone. If you share an office space with someone, make sure to wipe the items you both handle to avoid getting sick.

Avoid Communal Kitchens

Beverages, dishes and utensils that have saliva and bacteria on them are common in communal kitchens. Not only do you want to avoid the communal kitchen area, but you should also avoid washing any of your dishes with a sponge or rag kept in that space. Instead, rinse your items and use a disposable paper towel to minimize the chance of getting sick. Also avoid salt and pepper shakers, condiment containers and other items everyone uses.

Don’t Touch Door Handles and Public Items

Don’t touch handles that many other people in the office use, especially in the restroom. These are items that may get grabbed by hundreds of hands a day, exposing you to a variety of germs. Instead, push the doors open or closed near the top or in the middle, or use a tissue or paper towel to avoid getting sick.

Avoid Sick Co-workers

It may seem like common sense, but it’s important to avoid interactions with someone you know is not feeling well. Send them an interoffice email, call them on the phone or text them to avoid walking to their office or having a conversation with them in person. Avoid packed elevators, shared office spaces like conference tables, large group conversations or shared rides with large groups of people.

Wash Your Hands Frequently

It’s important to wash your hands after you go to lunch if you are in someone else’s office, and if you have interaction with other people throughout the day. Avoid touching your face, nose and mouth with your hands, and avoid touching surfaces and items right before touching your food or drink. Carrying hand sanitizer around with you in your purse or briefcase works when you don’t have time to go to the bathroom.

Boost Your Immunity

Prepare for cold and flu season by boosting your immunity. Taking a multivitamin to get all the nutrients you need, along with taking vitamin c and zinc, and eating a diet full of antioxidants helps you avoid getting sick. It’s important to stay hydrated, to get enough sleep and to eat healthy when you are trying to fight off the germs that are passed around your office space.

Getting sick and missing work can be awful, so take the time to take care of yourself. Practice healthy habits and sanitize your office so others' germs don't get to you easily.


Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at



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