UK businesses at risk of winter illness wipeout

Office-based businesses are at risk of mass staff illness this winter, as a result of poor hygiene practices, according to the results of a new survey.

The results found by Office Depot show that 83 per cent of full-time office staff continue to go into work despite knowingly having a cold, while 81 per cent believe they have picked up an illness from a fellow colleague in the workplace.

The survey results blame poor provision of effective cleaning and hygiene products, with 30 per cent of businesses failing to supply anti-bacterial handwash or soap, while only 8 per cent of UK offices offer facial tissues. 

Reasons for the high illness rate could be down to the bad habits of colleagues, with 45 per cent of people knowing of a co-worker who fails to wash their hands after using the toilet. 79 per cent of people work with staff who eat lunch at their desks, 58 per cent see colleagues keeping dirty plates in their work area, while 36 per cent of people put up with those who fail to clean up their own food or drink spillages.

George Hand, Head of Cleaning, Hygiene and Catering at Office Depot said, "the results from our research show that not all UK businesses are equipped with the appropriate levels of cleaning and hygiene equipment. The knock-on effect of poor supplies could result in a number of employees catching illnesses, which can lead to staff shortages and low productivity levels.

"If more UK businesses had the right cleaning and hygiene products to hand, they could help the prevention of further illnesses being spread. Promoting a healthier office lifestyle, such as encouraging a tidy desk policy, can also help stall the growth of bacteria on work surfaces."

One of the main reasons employees may continue to go into work despite being unwell could be because they fear there is inadequate support and work will not be completed in their absence. Indeed, 88 per cent of respondents said that they would have to pick up at least some of their work following an absence, with 38 per cent believing they'd have to pick up all of their work upon their return.

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