Pathogen Resilience in Office Break Rooms

Pathogen Resilience in Office Break Rooms

Regardless of the industry--education, business, or healthcare--office breakrooms have proven to be havens for dangerous pathogens.

Pathogen Resilience in Office Break Rooms

Combating Pathogen Resilience in Office Break Rooms

Office break rooms are great for increasing production and employee job satisfaction.

According to the Huffington Post;

Break rooms are a place where employees can step out of the work zone without stepping out of the office.

Break rooms offer a place where people can develop friendships within the company. It is also a place to unwind.

The Truth About Break Rooms

However, a critical factor necessary in ensuring and maximizing the benefits of office break rooms is to keep the area and all of its amenities immaculate--strangely, an often overlooked consideration.

According to Dr. Charles Gerba;

Experiments show that breakrooms in commercial buildings, offices, schools and hospitals are breeding grounds for infectious germs.

The coffee breakroom is like an unregulated restaurant to a large degree and things tend to build up in those areas and where people tend to meet like communal rooms.

People are also eating there, bringing food to their mouth in these places.

High-Touch Surfaces Need Improved Disinfecting


The Cause of Pathogen Resilience in Office Break Rooms

While the top cause may vary, depending on the working environment and business type, the root cause of pathogen resilience in office break rooms is the infrequency and quality of cleaning programs.

This is due, in part, to the ability of germs--ranging from dangerous to potentially deadly--to survive on hard non-porous surfaces, sometimes for up to a week.

Unfortunately, many businesses do not offer cleaning services for common areas and restrooms.

According to a recent survey conducted by Staples Business Advantage;

Just 51 percent offer cleaning services for common areas and bathrooms.

This type of attitude is often the result of the misguided premise of saving money, or not engaging employees in the cleaning of shared office spaces, especially in smaller offices that do not recognize the direct returns on investment in regards to production increases and decreases in illness and presenteeism.


Cleaning Frequency and Employee Engagement in Small Offices

Regardless of the budget, cleaning schedules, or products employed--engaging employees to clean up after themselves in office break rooms can have a tremendously positive impact on their health and wellbeing.

It has been well documented that even the most diligently sanitized surfaces can quickly become recontaminated in a few hours, even without regular use.

Additionally, numerous vetted studies have shown that surfaces such as sink faucet handles, coffee pots and handles, and vending machine buttons, all contain more pathogens and contagions per square inch than the average office toilet seat.

The reason is simple.

These surfaces are not cleaned nearly as often.

Encouraging employees to clean up after themselves and providing them with safe, simple methods for sanitizing the break room can significantly reduce the volume of dirt, bacteria, and germs on surfaces that can rapidly transfer to hands, eyes, mouths, and nostrils where they are ingested into the body, leading to illness, or worse.


Green Cleaning Tips for Small Office Break Rooms

While we always recommend outsourcing routine cleaning responsibilities to experienced professionals, doing the following can have a tremendous impact on the production and profitability of your organization:

  • Get rid of the sponges--they're disgusting homes for bacteria and spread more germs than they remove.
  • Replace the sponges with disposable microfiber, or paper towels.
  • Post a reminder to clean out the coffee pot and cups regularly with soap and water.
  • Place liquid foaming soap dispensers by the sink and encourage employees to wash their hands often--step up your game and the health of your facility by also providing liquid hand sanitizer.
  • Finally, make Safer Use cleaning and disinfectant wipes available and remind employees that they can protect their health by wiping down the various fixtures and high-contact surfaces they use every day, especially during flu season.


References & Resources



More and more, studies are demonstrating the importance of regular, high-performance cleaning programs, especially during flu seasons, or in communal dining areas.

Engaging employees to participate in their improved health and work performance is a challenge, but should never be considered as a replacement for professionally trained and equipped custodial teams, especially where toxic chemicals are being handled.

In-house cleaning services are expensive, have an unbelievably high turnover rate, and are subject to poor performance due to lack of costly training and relatively low potential for advancement.

A cost-effective alternative that provides regular high-quality cleaning services that address all of the issues with staff-based or in-house janitorial teams is to outsource to a local provider with a demonstrated history of industry-relevant service delivery.

If you would like to find out more about the advantages of outsourcing your organizations janitorial and infection control procedures--contact us today for a free quote!

In Bakersfield CA, call (661) 437-3253

In Fresno CA, call (559) 206-1059

In Valencia CA, or Santa Clarita CA, call (661) 437-3253

Vanguard Cleaning Systems of the Southern Valley

Vanguard Cleaning Systems of the Southern Valley