What are the Best Tips for Improving Office Hygiene?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Office hygiene is important to reducing the spread of germs and creating a safe workplace. Without good hygiene, one person sneezing can quickly turn into reduced efficiency and production levels as the whole office gradually contracts the illness. Improving office hygiene requires work on the part of both employees and employers; while employers are responsible for setting a standard and providing necessary tools, employees must take personal responsibility and engage in courteous and safety-conscious behavior in the office.

Hand washing can prevent the spread of many communicable diseases.
Hand washing can prevent the spread of many communicable diseases.

One of the best ways to improve office hygiene is to keep the office well-stocked with hygienic supplies. This may include the provision of cleaning products and disinfectants, as well as basic tools such as tissues and hand sanitizer. Giving employees the tools to maintain hygiene can often help to inspire good habits.

Hand sanitizer can help improve office hygiene.
Hand sanitizer can help improve office hygiene.

Additionally, an employer can improve office hygiene by setting a high standard for office cleanliness and upkeep. Ventilation systems should be checked regularly, while the whole facility should be occasionally examined for signs of mold, water damage, or other environmental issues that might harm employee health. Hiring a good janitorial team can also be a critical component of improving hygiene. Some offices try to improve hygiene by insisting that workers keep their workspace clean and organized as part of company policy.

Using mouthwash after lunch can help freshen breath for work.
Using mouthwash after lunch can help freshen breath for work.

Employee behavior can be the most important piece in the hygiene puzzle. Few realize that everyday items, such as keyboards and telephones, are spectacular growing sites for bacteria and microorganisms. Sharing office equipment is frequently how diseases are passed around the office; a keyboard used by a sick person will likely harbor infective microorganisms until disinfected. Training employees to use sanitizer and wash hands regularly can be an important part of reducing the spread of illness.

One thing that can greatly help improve office hygiene is keeping sick workers away from the office. This requires a partnership between management and employees: managers must not give workers a hard time for using sick days, while employees must not endanger trust by using sick days spuriously. Letting a sick worker stay home until no longer contagious can keep the illness out of the office; in many cases, it is better to lose a few days from one worker than go through weeks of lowered efficiency by the entire office. Resting at home is usually good for the worker, as well, as it gives him or her time to recover without undue physical stress.

Having tissues on hand can help prevent the spread of germs from sneezing.
Having tissues on hand can help prevent the spread of germs from sneezing.
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


Most of us spend most of our productive time in our offices, working. Hygiene is critical if we want to have meaningful workplace experiences. Such an environment ensures that you not only have enough space to do your work, but also clean enough to protect you from contagious diseases. Interesting post.


I think it should be mandatory for all workplaces to supply a certain number of paid sick days a year for employees. The employee should have to provide a doctor's note, but I think a few days of allocated sick leave would prevent those who are really ill from showing up at work and making everyone else sick.

Improving office hygiene is easy when everyone is healthy, but I think there needs to be more rules in place to deal with those who are ill. For those that do choose to show up when they are sick there should be some sort of separate workspace for them. I see nothing wrong with a sanitized area for a sick worker where they have limited contact with everyone else. Even forcing them to wear a mask could help.


Working abroad has taught me to really appreciate the office hygiene in the West. I currently work in South Korea and there is so much that could be done here to improve the conditions of our workplace.

Right now office sanitation is left up to the individual employees, which isn't very effective. The bathroom is always out of soap and I constantly see people leaving without even rinsing their hands. The idea of carrying hand sanitizer around seems alien here.

The policies on sick days are pretty bad too. Basically if you aren't dead you work. It isn't uncommon to watch a virus whip through the entire office in the period of a week because the sick people aren't allowed to take time off.


I know if I am suffering from a cold and have a runny nose and cough, the last place I feel like being is at work. Our office is quite small and there is not a lot of extra space between our desks, and I know that I don't want to give this to my co-workers.

I also don't want them to be at work if they are sneezing and coughing all over the place. It doesn't seem to take much for germs to be spread around in a small space so I think the best thing for everyone is stay at home while you are contagious.


When I worked at a vending manufacturing company there were some part time evening workers who would come in after hours to make telephone calls. They would use our office equipment to place calls in an effort to collect past due payments.

The first thing one of my co-workers would do every morning was spray his phone and computer keyboard with a disinfectant spray. I used to think it was kind of strange, but now I totally understand his concern.

There are so many germs that are spread through our hands, and if you don't know who has been touching the equipment you use every day, it is nice to know it has been cleaned and sanitized.


@Subway11 - I have noticed that too. I also think that if many companies were to allow sick workers to work from home this will allow the employee to continue working and not infect anyone with their condition.

This is especially beneficial if the employee is an hourly employee and would not be paid unless they worked. Some people can’t afford to take time off when they are sick, so allowing the employee the chance to complete the work at home and take the necessary breaks that they need while at home will also cut down on the number of people that go to work while they are sick.

This will allow the employee to continue working so productivity does not suffer and the employee gets paid.


I think that installing hand sanitization stations throughout the office and in the break rooms of some offices is a big start. Most businesses have these stations all over for both customers and employees.

In fact, most banks that I go to offer hand sanitizing stations so that both the customers and the employees can clean their hands. I think that this does control the spread of germs. I went on a cruise about a year ago and it seemed that hand sanitizing stations were all over the ship especially in the dining areas.

Post your comments
Forgot password?