How to Stop Viruses (and Bacteria!) Lurking on Your Computer

Posted: April 22, 2020

It only makes sense that a managed service provider would have a blog post discussing virus removal from a workstation, but today, we wanted to talk about a different virus, one that your antivirus software won’t affect in the slightest: SARS-CoV-2, or as it is better known now, COVID-19.

Bacteria and viruses (including COVID-19, but also many others) thrive in an environment like the office. There are just so many places that microorganisms and germs can spread, assisted by the activities we do in the workplace.

Terrifyingly, some research has indicated that the average desk in an office houses more than 10 million bacterial organisms, 25,000 of which present on the phone. Another study found similarly high numbers on keyboards (3,000 per square inch) and the computer mouse (1,600 per square inch). For reference, the average toilet has about 295 per inch.

While this isn’t exactly a fair comparison (the vast majority of that 10 million organisms are completely harmless) it still makes you wonder: what about the ones that aren’t?

The next question you may want to ask: how can I make sure my work environment is disinfected?

Getting Rid of Office Viruses

There are a few ways that you can help keep your workstation (and your home computer, as well) relatively clean, without risking damage to your computer’s components.

Traditional Cleaning

Before we get to the workstation specifically, your office should always be cleaned as any place would be: using soap and water to clean any surfaces that can be, a broom and mop keeping the floors in good shape. 

Keep in mind that attempting to clean your computing components in this way could damage them, so avoid these areas as much as you can.

Disinfecting Wipes

These can become your biggest ally in building a healthier office, as long as you select the right ones to keep on hand. Make sure that you get ones that are labeled to disinfect (as opposed to simply cleaning or sanitizing) the surfaces they are used on. That cleaning wipe that came with lunch a few weeks ago is only going to help you wipe up the ring your coffee cup left. While a sanitizing wipe will help to remove some of the present pathogens, only a disinfecting wipe will actively kill them. Check the labels to see if your supply says they kill viruses.

Using these disinfectants, make sure you revisit those places missed by your traditional cleaning, or are more often handled directly, like door handles, light switches, phones, chairs,  keyboards, and mice. Don’t forget to visit high-traffic areas in the office, like the refrigerator and the microwave, to properly disinfect them as well.

Encourage Hygiene

Otherwise, you really need to keep your staff aware of their own habits. Tactfully remind them of the importance of washing their hands frequently, particularly after using the restroom, and for the appropriate amount of time. Instead of “catching” their sneezes in their hand, encourage them to reach for a tissue or the crook of their elbow instead.

At the end of the day, the wisest policy both in and out of the workplace is to treat every day as though it is peak cold and flu season. Keep your hands to yourself, and wash them frequently.

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