Whether you’ve reopened your office or you’re planning to soon, it’s a good time to consider the shared surfaces employees will use. That includes your conference room scheduling displays, interactive wayfinding signage, and other touchscreens.

Just how dirty are these shared surfaces, and how long can germs survive on them?

Here are a few scary facts — along with some reassurances and practical steps you can take to keep your workplace technology clean.

Are conference room scheduling displays really germ magnets?

While the coronavirus is spread primarily through droplets caused by coughing and sneezing, it can linger on surfaces for a few hours to a few days, according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The type of surface, temperature, humidity, and other factors can impact how long it lasts, according to the National Institute of Health.

So which surfaces are the worst offenders?

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) found that bathroom faucets can harbor up to 21 times the amount of bacteria found on a toilet seat. Kitchen sinks and faucets harbor even higher levels, with 44 times more bacteria than a toilet seat.

Phones are also a big culprit.

The University of Arizona found phones are 10 times dirtier than toilet seats. Another study found phones can contain up to 25 times more bacteria per square inch than a toilet!

Qualitative research platform dscout found that people touch their phones an average of 2,617 times a day. The heaviest users touch, swipe, and click their phones more than 5,000 times a day.

In comparison, computers have five times more germs than a toilet seat.

All this is enough to make employees think twice about all the shared surfaces they encounter in a typical workday.

Between walking around the office, entering closed-door conference rooms, heating up food in the breakroom and visiting the restroom, they’re also touching their eyes, nose and mouth without thinking about it. A study from PubMed Central reported that people touch their faces an average of 23 times an hour.

How can you minimize the risk of coronavirus in the workplace?

Although the risk of spreading the coronavirus through shared surfaces is relatively low compared to extended close contact with someone who has it, it’s still important to step up your sanitization protocol. Facility management may not have been part of your original job description, but everyone now shares the responsibility of keeping the workplace clean.

And the right workplace technology can help.

Follow these recommendations to maintain a safe, healthy workplace.

Use a visitor management system

A visitor management system that requires all employees to check in daily — and complete a short wellness check or self-assessment upon arrival — will prevent employees who are sick from potentially exposing others.

Use conference room scheduling displays to limit capacity

To maintain physical distancing, you’ll need to limit the number of people who gather in conference rooms. Conference room scheduling displays shows the size of each room and its recommended capacity. As an administrator of your company’s room scheduling software, you can tighten capacity limits during high-risk seasons or relax them as the prevalence of coronavirus (or seasonal flu) recedes. This allows employees to choose the space that best suits their needs while staying safe.

Use room displays for health and hygiene reminders

Gyms have no shortage of signs reminding people to wipe down equipment after each use. Employees need reminders, too. You can update the messaging on your conference room displays to encourage employees to sanitize shared desks, tables, and monitors. They should also clean their own phones daily with a mix of 60% water and 40% isopropyl alcohol.

Your digital displays can even double as wayfinding signage, helping employees find a room, desk, or the nearest cleaning supply closet. 

return to work

Use touchless technology when possible

A mobile app offers much of the same functionality as touchscreens, allowing employees to reserve desks or rooms from their own smartphones.

This is also a good time to consider touchless, sensor-activated technology for doors, restrooms and lighting.

How to find the best return-to-work technology

While you want to keep your workforce safe and healthy, you may not have the budget for big technology investments. You need solutions that are affordable, easy to implement, and integrate with the technology your workforce already uses.

Teem’s Return-to-Work Starter Kit has everything you need to reopen safely, including visitor management, desk booking and room reservation software.

It also includes the Teem Mobile App for touchless reservations. Employees can book a room or reserve a workspace from anywhere, even if they’re not in the office. This helps you manage capacity and contact tracing while giving your workforce the flexibility it expects.

Best of all, it fits any budget and is easy to implement in less than a day.

Get ready to welcome employees and visitors back to the office. Get your kit today and get back to a cleaner, safer workplace tomorrow.

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