Why Workplace Safety Requires Daily Desktop Sanitation

Why Workplace Safety Requires Daily Desktop Sanitation

The largest concern of employees returning to the office involves their safety when desk-sharing. Virus-wary employees are simply uncomfortable using a desk where someone left their DNA the day before.

Desk Sharing is a biproduct of the Hybrid Work Model, which is clearly here to stay. Foundry, formerly IDG Communications, the leading media and data provider for the tech community, surveyed over 400 of the largest US companies in their Future of Work Study 2022. The results show that 72% of the 94% of organizations that shifted to hybrid work during the pandemic, plan to continue the model and expect an average of 2.2 days per employee in the office.

During the pandemic, employee productivity increased while working from home. This is consistent with a 2-year Stanford University research study, released in 2015, in which organizations realized a 13% increase in productivity from working from home. This was due to fewer interruptions, longer work hours and the elimination of the time and drudgery of commuting.

The benefits of the Hybrid Work Model go beyond productivity increases. Companies realize substantial reduction in real-estate expenses of approximately $11K per employee per year when working half their time from home per a recent Global Workplace Analytics Study. This was due to reduced rent, lower absenteeism, and less employee turnover.

Similar research by Fortune Magazine, showed significant savings on company’s owned and long-term leased real estate from downsizing using the Hybrid Work Model:

  • The 150 square foot of real estate per employee, which used to be the rule of thumb, is now almost cut in half
  • 74% of Fortune 500 CEOs say they plan to reduce office space and 60% stating the reduction will be by half or more.
  • Overall, companies are expecting a 50% savings on real estate costs with the hybrid model
    And employees save as well: up to $6K/year when working half the time from home due to
    reduced commuting, purchasing less restaurant food and business clothing, and reduced
    childcare costs.


The future of work clearly involves a hybrid work model with desk-sharing, which creates some specific workplace safety challenges.

First and foremost, employers are required to provide a safe work environment. The possibility of a potentially infected person sitting at the desk the day before, calls into question the safety of the environment the next day in the absence of some form of disinfection.

Employees are justifiably anxious and uncomfortable about their health and safety working at desk where someone could have had a harmful virus the day before. Unfortunately, we’ve all seen others sneeze in their hands and immediately use the keyboard.

The primary challenge now is to provide a safe work environment and give employees the peace of mind that they won’t become ill and pass it on to their families.

Alert Media, a leading emergency notification and monitoring company, surveyed over 2,000 full-time US employees in 2022 about personal safety and well-being and they found:

  • 79% of employees say they are more concerned today about their health and well-being than ever before
  • 97% of US employees believe it’s important to feel safe at work, but only 54% of employees feel their personal safety is important to their employer
  • To the question: what would motivate you to stay with your employer for the long-term: 48% said competitive compensation and 47% said it was workplace safety, the #2 answer.

In a 2022 Harris Poll of over 1,000 US employees, 84% of workers want their workplace to implement tangible changes to improve hygiene and worker safety before they come back to the office.

According to research from Gensler, COVID-related office hygiene and cleaning protocols play a major role in employees’ decisions to go back to the office. Almost half of all employees are moderately-to-extremely influenced to come back to the office by how their employer is addressing workplace safety.

In a separate 2022 survey by Paychex of over 600 full-time employees, 43% of employees cited that bringing Covid home to family from the workplace was their top concern in going back to office.

All this research and data tells us that the security from knowing the desktop and shared devices are disinfected daily has a huge impact on employee performance. In fact, it has become a requirement.

And with good reason: According to the CDC and confirmed by the World Health Organization and documented in the New England Journal of Medicine, any infected employee can cough or exhale and release droplets of infected fluid on surfaces, which can live and infect others for 3 days or longer.

Research shows that there are more than 10 million bacteria on a typical office desk – 400 times more bacteria than found on the average public toilet seat.

The lack of proper sanitation can be quite costly to an organization as well. Any single infected employee can cause an outbreak, as we have experienced with the Omicron variant, that could be extremely disruptive and expensive to business operations, potentially sending entire departments home.

Then there is the issue of liability. Over ten thousand lawsuits were filed against employers during the pandemic, many for wrongful death claims.  The employees must prove that the company was negligent in its responsibility to provide a safe work environment. If this can be proven, organizations can be vulnerable to costly lawsuits.

But negligence, with respect to a safe work environment, has yet to be defined as these lawsuits were settled out of court. There has been no litigation that has determined what constitutes a safe environment and what is considered negligence.

To address this issue, companies today manually clean and then disinfect common areas and shared work environments daily. However, an Ohio State University research study demonstrated that cleaning crews miss, on average, up to 50% of the surface.

Some companies place disinfecting wipes on the desks for the employees to wipe prior to starting their day, though this is also unreliable.

First, the keyboard is difficult to properly sanitize with wipes or a cloth. But the biggest problem with wipes is that it they are often used incorrectly. Instructions explain to apply generously and leave visibly wet and untouched for anywhere from 4 to 10-minutes, depending on the brand, and allow to air-dry. This is very rarely done. If not, germs are just spread across the desk with almost no benefit.

Many organizations today are “deep cleaning” their shared workstations by having the manual cleaning crews add disinfectant to the desktop cleaning process.

This is a problematic option for several reasons:

  • As stated above, manual cleaning crews miss up to half the surface area
  • Chemical disinfectants can be quite toxic and harmful to the environment, with some requiring full Hazmat protection to apply
  • Chemical disinfectants are an expensive solution to nightly sanitation. Non-toxic disinfectants are available but can be up to triple the cost of chemical disinfectants
  • manual cleaning with chemicals can also be problematic with devices such as keyboards, as it is difficult to properly apply disinfectant between the keys

The option to chemical disinfection is using UVC light to sanitize the desktops. A UVC Germicidal Disinfection Lamp, such as the Uvio Light offered by the Oxti Corporation, can be mounted tool-lessly to the top of any computer monitor to disinfect shared desktops with UVC light. UVC light has been a known virus killer for over 120-years and is used in many industries including hospitals, wastewater plants, food preparation, and sanitizing most of the world’s water supply.

The Uvio Light ensures that the keyboard, mouse, and primary work area of all shared desks are directly disinfected, as the UVC light kills a minimum of 99.25% of all harmful pathogens in a 4’ x 2’ area after 2-hours of use.

Uvio uses a downloadable, programmable, encrypted app that uses the organization’s Wi-Fi to activate the lights at night, so they are sanitized, virus-free and safe for the next day’s shared usage. One easy app manages the schedule of all the lights in the organization.

The app also provides a Disinfection Record of all stations to protect the organization in the event of any safety-related lawsuit. Clearly, a virus prevention plan that disinfects every shared desk nightly, eliminates any question as to the negligence of the employer in providing a safe work environment.

As an option to using the Uvio App to activate the Uvio Light, each lamp can be switched on manually with the AutoStart button. This turns the light on permanently, though as soon as there is any movement within 20 feet, the motion sensors will automatically shut Uvio off.  After 10-seconds, the light will re-activate. This is an important option for companies that may not use Wi-Fi, such as large financial organizations, government, or military facilities. This is also an effective means of sanitation when the desk is used throughout the day by different people.

Uvio is scheduled at night as UVC can be harmful to the skin or eyes. If someone happens to get in the proximity of the light, Uvio has two independent motion sensors that immediately shut off the light.

The Uvio Light reduces the cost of sanitation to approximately 15 – 17 cents per day per workstation, which can be a tenth of the overall cost of manual disinfection.

Uvio is more reliable than manual cleaning, disinfects more effectively, specifically between keys, is far less costly than manual disinfection, and is completely safe for the environment, unlike toxic cleaners.

Direct UVC Disinfection will effectively sanitize all shared workstations and prevent the spread of viruses and any outbreaks throughout the organization. This is critical as companies bring employees back into the workplace and provide them with the protection, comfort, and peace of mind they need to get back to work safely while reducing the cost and potential liability to the organization that viruses can present in the new pandemic age.

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