The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching implications for many aspects of our lives we once assumed would never change. Masks have now become a staple of everyone’s wardrobes, people are shopping online and ordering food delivery more than ever before, and many employees are finding themselves working from home. For those of us who are still required to work from the office, the close quarters of desks and cubicles may cause you to feel extremely anxious about the possibility of becoming infected at work.

Germs can spread incredibly fast in the workplace, whether they’re brought from home, public transit, or even your local grocery store. Your office has the potential to be a hub for spreading bacteria and COVID-19; fortunately, there are many preventive measures you can take to help limit the spread of the virus. Don’t wait until you feel sick to take measures to protect yourself from germs! Office H2O has compiled this useful guide of five ways to stay sick-free at work to help you stay ahead of the virus.

Stay Home

Staying home if you feel under the weather is the number one way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Not only will this protect your coworkers, but it will also help you feel better faster. If you see a coworker continually coughing or sneezing in the office, politely request in a one-on-one conversation that they take a sick day. If it is a possibility for your position, consider negotiating a work-from-home day to limit the spread of the virus.

“It’s not worth risking the health of people around you who may have weak immune systems — like young children, the elderly, or anyone with a chronic health problem,” says Dr. Laren Tan, pulmonologist and director of Loma Linda University Comprehensive Program for Obstructive Airway Diseases. It may be helpful to remind your management team that employees will be much more valuable if they take a sick day and stay healthy rather than coming to work and infecting everyone in the office.

Keep Your Distance

Dr. Charles Gerba, professor of Microbiology and Environmental Sciences in the Epidemiology division of University of Arizona, led a study on how germs are transmitted at work. The study found that viruses are transferred most commonly and quickly when people share workplace items: “We put harmless viruses on certain participants’ hands in an office. Within four hours, they had spread to half the other workers’ hands and half the commonly touched surfaces…if you touch the virus, you move it around the building.”

If you absolutely cannot avoid going into the office, remember to practice social distancing measures at all times by limiting close contact with coworkers. Dr. Tan also explains, “By avoiding contact with those who are sick, you lessen your chances of becoming sick yourself.” If your coworker is exhibiting symptoms, try moving desks. Do not share devices or office supplies; if you must do so, be sure to sanitize them between uses.

Avoid Touching Your Face

One way that COVID-19 is transmitted is when the germs pass through your mouth or nose and down into your lungs. These germs spread through droplets that form when people sneeze, cough, or even just talk. Once expelled, the droplets can survive on surfaces for up to eight hours, meaning if you accidentally come into contact with them in the workplace by touching phones, doorknobs, or appliances and then touch your face, the virus can easily find its way into your lungs through your nose and mouth. Whether or not you’re sick, be sure to cough and sneeze into a tissue or your inner arm to prevent spewing droplets onto public surfaces.

Stock Up on Hand Sanitizer & Frequently Wash Hands

As an adult, being told to wash your hands can feel patronizing, but it really is the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As we go about our day in the office, we are likely interacting with COVID-19 droplets on doorknobs, elevator buttons, phones, and even the door to the microwave in the breakroom. When you wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after you eat, after using the bathroom, and after sneezing or blowing your nose, you can do your part in keeping yourself and your coworkers healthy.

Keeping hand sanitizer in your workspace can also keep your hands germ-free; use a bit of hand sanitizer every time you use a shared office supply or appliance. “Alcohol hand sanitizers like Purell are actually excellent at killing influenza…” says Dr. David Reiman, Medical Director at the American University Student Health Center.

Use Disinfecting Wipes to Clean Workspaces

Workplace desks and cubicles have a massive potential for virus communication; the average desk harbors 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat! Desk phones also tend to be hotspots for germs and bacteria. To protect yourself from COVID-19, keep disinfecting wipes handy and consistently wipe down your workspace, including your desk, keyboard, mouse, and phone. If you eat lunch at your desk, be sure to also wipe down the area before and after meals as food and drinks can attract bacteria.

Stay Hydrated with Office H2O!

Time for a bonus tip! While it is unconfirmed whether or not staying hydrated can help to protect you from the spread of COVID-19, there is much research to suggest that drinking plenty of fluids is the key to preventing colds and flu. Studies show that drinking plenty of water may boost a particular immune response to enable your body to better fight viruses. If you want to make staying hydrated within your office space easier than ever, you need to make water accessible and convenient. That’s where our bottleless water coolers come in!

Another feature that make our bottleless water coolers essential, especially during the pandemic, includes the Touch-Free feature. At Office H2O, we take sanitation seriously. We understand that one of the best ways to stay sick-free at work is by practicing proper sanitation standards. In addition to our self-sanitizing tanks and multi-stage filtration, we are now providing touch-free bottleless water coolers. Using the stylish foot pedal included in our bottleless water coolers, your home or office can continue to enjoy easy access to purified drinking water without having to use your hands.

Check out our selection to find the best system for your office space! You can also contact Office H2O with any questions. We’ll be happy to help!