Want to limit how much you get done? Work in a germy office and see how many ill coworkers it takes to affect your productivity level.
It would be great to limit the areas of susceptibility but reality is that there are germs on every surface, not all of them harmful. Most of the time we are not affected. However with this era of swine flu it is a good idea to review the most highly contaminated areas.
In a 2006 post I wrote about The Office Germ:
For all of your awareness, you may be completely ignoring your biggest germ zone, which is your desk area. According to a study by Charles Gerba, an environmental virologist with the University of Arizona, your work space may have 400 time more bacteria than the average toilet seat.
This study had one group of office staff cleaning their desk with disinfecting towelettes every day while the other group did nothing. For the desks that were wiped off, bacteria levels dropped 99.9%. On the other desks, bacteria levels increased from 19% to 31% every day.
The primary culprit was the telephone, followed by the desk, water cooler handle, microwave door handle, and keyboards. Coming in with the lowest score was that toilet seat.
Beyond this area, for women, significant concentrations were in makeup cases, phones and purses, while men's heaviest contaminated areas included wallets and hand-held electronic devices.
Not all clean-looking surfaces are really clean. To avoid further contamination, use paper towels or disposable rags when cleaning up. Keep that hand sanitizer close. (Sales were up 17% in September from the year before, so that is encouraging for all of us.)
You cannot completely avoid contact no matter how careful you are. Clean the areas you can, and keep hands away from your face. Cover mouths when coughing or sneezing, and hope that your office avoids the consequences of these little inhabitants.