It is easy to dismiss those who keep their surroundings neat and tidy as ‘clean freaks’, or to compare a person who washes their hands a lot to the likes of Howard Hughes, however, whilst we would not recommend that you wear a surgical mask to attend meetings or roll out toilet-tissue so that your feet don’t have to come in direct contact with the ground, such cleanliness-obsessed individuals may be on to something;

It is incredibly easy to get ill, particularly in an office environment, where you are likely to be handling shared telephones and equipment and touching doors and elevator controls which, when swabbed and examined under the microscope, would make even the most hardened stomach quiver.

Let’s take a look at three horrible, but easily-avoided illnesses that you can pick up in the workplace:


‘I opened the window: And in-flew-Enza’: if you believed nursery rhymes, then you would probably think that the flu virus floats around like some sort of invisible spirit; but rather than jamming your windows shut, the best way to avoid this illness is to practice good hygiene: avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, especially when touching surfaces which see a lot of human physical contact;

Wash your hands frequently and carry about a small pump dispenser of alcohol gel: this can come in handy when you are aboard public transport, where contact with support rails and straps are commonplace, but access to wash facilities is not.

Whilst the above methods will not make you immune, they will go some way towards helping you avoid some of the most common methods of picking up the bug.


This stomach bug is typically caused by the likes of the Norovirus or Rotavirus: whilst eating a dodgy meal can lead to this condition, it is also possible to pick it up via close interaction with someone who is infected;

Diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and cramps are all symptoms of this illness, which will leave you feeling drained and dehydrated;

If an individual you know has this illness, there is a good chance that it can be passed on to you: even without direct physical contact: all it takes is to touch an object which this person has handled and you could end up being the next one who scores a number 7 on the ‘Bristol Stool Chart’.

Avoid this problematic ailment by ensuring that you thoroughly wash your hands on a regular basis, particularly after using the toilet and before eating food.

Keep alcohol wipes handy and give any shared telephones, keyboards or other equipment a good rub down before using it.

Fergus Patrick is a cleaning guru who provides domestic and commercial cleaning services from his headquarters in London.