Flu season is upon us - and with it often comes chaos. It means workplaces are anticipating people being off work, resulting in staff having to take on additional responsibilities in the interim – it’s an intense time of year for everyone. The UK is no stranger to annual outbreaks of flu, but this year, cases have begun to rise early. Understanding how germs can be spread is the first step in knowing how to tackle them. 

To help us get an idea of how we may be able to nip nasty germs before they become prolific, we took a look at a study by instantprint who recently surveyed 1,000 employees about spreading germs in the office.

Unhygienic habits in the office

Out of the 1,000 UK employees surveyed, it was found that 45% of people are more aware of unhygienic office habits since the pandemic. When asked which germ-spreading habits should be banned for good, the top, most burgeoning answers from most to least were as follows: 

#1 Not washing your hands after visiting the toilet 

#2 Coming into work with a cough/cold 

#3 Kiss greetings 

#4 Hugs 

#5 High fives

#6 Pen chewing (we’ve all done it!)

The most voted-for germ-spreader was not washing your hands

The importance of hand washing (42.9%) became particularly prominent in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic - but it’s always had its place. If someone doesn’t wash their hands, there’s a risk of germs spreading to other parts of their body, as well as to other people through surfaces and even food. You can reinforce the importance of handwashing in the office with educational posters in the loo and by providing hand sanitiser around the office to encourage people to use it after sneezing or coughing as well. 

Coming into work with a cough or cold was second at 37.4%

To call or not to call? Many workers feel guilty about calling in sick, despite knowing that they will struggle to do their job as well. We don’t want to let our colleagues or our managers down and instead, try to battle through it. While people may assume that Covid has changed the stigma around doing this, many still feel the same. There may also be a fear that not coming into work may hinder progress and development in the workplace. If you are experiencing the symptoms of flu, you should stay at home to prevent spreading germs.

Greetings were also high on the list

Various greetings also appeared on the list. This includes hugs (27.8%), kiss greetings (32.9%) and high fives (23.3%). Anything that involves close contact with another person poses a risk of spreading infection. Hands carry a lot of germs and even breathing the same air can lead to others inhaling infectious particles. Some even argue that fist-bumping is a more hygienic way to greet others! Boundaries should be respected across workforces regardless, but particularly during flu season.