What would Marie Kondo say? Dirty offices have made nearly half of us sick

She's become synonymous with neat cleanliness, so what would Marie Kondo say about recent data that reveals all the ways unhygienic working environments make us ill?

Marie Kondo would not love the mouse on kitchen floor by Getty Images
(Image credit: Getty)

Marie Kondo has got us all focussing on our homes: decluttering, only keeping things that 'spark joy' and having a good old tidy up. And, the KonMari method is not just an exercise in tidying, it's about psychological and physical well-being, too. 'It's a very strange phenomenon, but when we reduce what we own and essentially "detox" our house, it has a detox effect on our bodies as well.'

But while we all concentrate hard on making our homes havens of well being, it seems we've been neglecting somewhere else just as important: our work places. And they're making us sick – but in a way that's totally avoidable, if we were just to treat them like our homes.

So, how clean is your office? Even a spotless working environment that's cleaned regularly is still a breeding ground for germs, with so many people sharing kitchens, bathrooms, communal areas and phones (the list goes on). And what about that colleague who chooses to come into the office with a highly contagious cold? 

According to a recent survey of 1,012 people, almost half of workers (46 per cent) say an unhygienic working environment has contributed to them getting sick at some point. General lack of hygiene was cited by 68 per cent of the respondents as the reason for them falling ill, while 62 per cent attributed their illness to colleagues coming in while sick and spreading infection. 

Dirty desk phones, kitchens, and badly washed mugs all also figured prominently on the list of unsanitary things that make people sick. For a quarter of those surveyed, their desk seemed like the dirtiest thing of all, and for 18 per cent it was their keyboard. What. Would. Marie. Kondo. Say? ('Er, get tidying, people', we expect, but in her inimitably polite way.)

Mark Kelly of  Appliances Direct, which conducted the survey, comments, 'I was surprised from our findings just how much office sickness is costing businesses annually, with almost half of workers blaming their workplace for at least one sick day in the past year.

'We carried out some research recently which found that the kitchen was the hub of the office, with 72 per cent of workers saying this is the most used social space in the office, so it’s concerning to see that almost half of workers believe that this is a space that has made them ill in the past year due to lack of hygiene.

'It’s clear that it’s not just employers who need to keep communal spaces clean, but also that employees need to keep their personal workspaces hygienic to avoid illness from things like keyboards and desk phones.' And – if you've got a nasty cold, do your workers a favour and stay at home. Or face the imagined wrath of Ms Kondo.

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