Office Hygiene

January 12, 2010

Whenever I enter a new work environment, I’m always given someone’s old desk. In most instances, I have no idea who the person was or what they were like, but remnants of their former life remain. There are usually stacks of papers and various knick-knacks that piled up over their tenure. Old sticky notes and phone numbers leave hints as to the previous employee’s day-to-day operations. But it’s the things I can’t see that bother me the most.

My first instinct is to sanitize every surface: the phone, the mouse, the buttons on the computer. I have to toss all of the pens and highlighters with caps that look like they were once an appetizer to someone’s lunch. I have to clean the dust bunnies from beneath the computer tower, and spray the crumbs out from the keyboard.

Sometimes I feel like I might be going overboard, but I have no idea what my previous desk-mates hygiene was like. In an office environment, one dirty person can pollute the spaces of even the cleanliest of people. If one person doesn’t wash their hands after using the restroom, the rest of the office suffers.

I often find my hands cracked and dry in the winter, not from the frigid temperature, but from the excessive hand washing. However, I am responsible for my own health and, in a way, the health of my colleagues’ as well. I would rather keep a bottle of hand lotion on my desk to alleviate cracked hands, than forgo soap and water and risk the sniffles or the heaves.

-Missy Schwartz