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"Allergy symptoms are the No. 2 reason adults miss work," says James Sublett, MD, a board-certified asthma and allergy specialist in Louisville, Ky. The average worker with allergies misses about one hour per week over the course of a year. But that sick time is often concentrated during peak allergy periods. Poor office hygiene is expected to have reduced UK GDP by 0.8% or £13.7 billion in 2013, due to workers taking time off sick and by affecting their time whilst at work. Sick leave as a result of poor hygiene costs the UK economy £4.2 billion last year. Shockingly £9.5 billion was lost due to the time wasted as a result of poor hygiene.

Workplace exposure to fumes, gases or dust are responsible for 11 percent of asthma worldwide, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO). What’s more, 24.5 million missed workdays nationwide annually are attributable to occupational asthma. And that’s not including all the sniffing, sneezing, runny nose, and watery eye effects of allergies. Workers also can suffer from fatigue. Frequent activation of the immune system from allergic triggers can sap the body's energy. In essence, all that sneezing and coughing is exhausting. The effect of allergies at work has been called "presenteeism" -- being at work, but out of it. A 2001 study in a telephone call center found a significant correlation between spiking pollen counts and decreased productivity -- about 10% -- for workers with allergies.

Poor office hygiene costing British economy £13.7 billion

British businesses are throwing £700 down the drain. It’s a general rule that the better you care or something, the better it will perform. The British workforce is no exception. For the majority of businesses, staff represent a significant investment. In failing to create a healthy workplace environment, employers are failing their employees and businesses.

In total, poor office hygiene is expected to have reduced UK GDP by 0.8% or £13.7 billion in 2013, due to workers taking time off sick and by affecting their time whilst at work. Sick leave as a result of poor hygiene costs the UK economy £4.2 billion last year. Shockingly £9.5 billion was lost due to the time wasted as a result of poor hygiene.

Prevention

The survey showed that cleaning of offices is infrequent and doesn't appear adequate enough to prevent the build up of house dust mites and allergens. 37% said their office is cleaned just once a week or less, while a worrying 17% (nearly one in five) said their office is cleaned infrequently.

Many spend their day slaving over a keyboard unaware of the dirt and bacteria lurking between the keys, hidden on the mouse and nestled in your phone lies more than 10 million bacteria - 400 times more than on the average toilet seat. Bacteria and viruses can multiply on hard surfaces, remaining infectious for up to 24 hours, hygiene expert and visiting professor at the University of Salford, Dr Lisa Ackerley said the average desk is a prime breeding ground for infections, before urging people to disinfect their desks, telephones, keyboards and computer mice.

Now, a new infographic lays bare the stark reality of how important it is to detox your desk. It shows one in five workers fail to clean their workspace before eating, while two in three eat lunch at their desk, encouraging the growth of bacteria Twenty per cent of people never clean their computer mouse, while around 80 per cent of common infections are transmitted by touch. 

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Productivity

Allergies don't just have an impact on the employee. According to the research, they are also having a significant effect on productivity. 73% of those questioned took time off sick in the last 12 months; the majority of the workforce has had some form of sickness in the last year, which is not unusual. However, the real area of concern is that 42% of allergy sufferers took time off work because of their allergy. 14% of sufferers actually took between four and ten days off sick due to their allergy, figures that could be addressed by actively minimising allergens in the workplace.

Although cleaning your workspace often doesn’t make your daily to-do list, other than a quick tidying up at the end of the day, it does have many benefits. Your workflow, your creativity and your health could all suffer from a dirty and less-than-hygienic desk. Here are some things to keep in mind which could prompt you to summon your inner neat freak and keep things cleanYour Health Sure, your office may have a cleaning service that comes through once a week, but many are not allowed to move items on desks. That could leave many surfaces untouched for weeks. Did you recently have a cold? Do you sometimes eat lunch at your desk? Did you spill a drink? Your desk could be harboring germs or mold from viruses or crumbs. Make a point of cleaning your desk and having your computer and telephone professionally cleaned on a regular basis for the sake of your health.

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