Preventing Flu Outbreaks in Office Environments

Preventing flu outbreaks is a primary concern for most office managers and people who have to work in office environments. The recent outbreak of measles originating in Disneyland highlights how having lots of people together in an environment where someone is sick can have far-reaching effects when it come to the spread of illness.

Certainly the single most critical illness prevention tip is to wash your hands properly. We’ve recommended this repeatedly, and we won’t stop!

Hand Washing and Preventing Flu

How often should you wash your hands?

  • Before you prepare food and after you prepare food
  • After you eat
  • Before and after going to the washroom
  • After handling animals or animal waste
  • After coughing or sneezing
  • Whenever your hands are dirty
  • More frequently if you are around anyone who is sick

What is proper handwashing technique?

Hands should be wet before you apply soap. Wet hands will allow the soap to lather up better and gives you better coverage over your hands when washing.  Wash for 10-20 seconds.

Using an alcohol-based sanitizer in the absence of soap and water is acceptable however it is not as effective as using soap and water.

7 Additional Ways to Prevent the Spread of Illness in the Office

1) Ensure that any re-usable towels are laundered or replaced daily.  In an office environment, paper towels are better at limiting the spread of infection.

2) Have disinfectant wipes on hand for employees to use at their workstations. If an employee has a sneeze or cough, they can attempt to wipe the affected area with the quick wipe. This wipe down will make their work environment cleaner and help prevent the spread of illness if someone else comes by or shares the workstation.

3) The next most critical way to preventing flu in your office is to be sure people do not come to work when they are sick.  This seems like common sense, but it cannot be overstated.  Coughing or sneezing those germs causes them to become airborne and leads to the beginnings of an outbreak that spreads the flu.

5) Educate your employees how to contain a sneeze or cough. The easiest method being, of course, a tissue.  However, it is not always possible to grab one quick enough so be sure everyone knows how to catch a cough or sneeze in their sleeve.  This certainly is not ideal but still a better alternative that sending the germs airborne for all to catch.

6) Source and use as many touchless dispensers as possible in the washroom and lunchroom.  Using touchless soap dispensers and towel dispensers can go a long way to stopping the spread of infection, by having one less touch point where germs can hang out and be spread among the users of your office.

7) Also be sure to encourage employees to take a flu shot.  If you have enough employees even arranging a flu shot clinic on site is a great option to help keep your office healthier during the flu season.  Even finding a flu shot location or mobile site close by is a good choice.

Many people make excuses to not get the flu shot. Often the reasons are personal rather than medical. Certainly the flu vaccination is an excellent prevention technique for preventing flu in your office this flu season.


Truly hand washing could be so critical that if you just focused on that fact the spread of illness in your office environment would decrease significantly.  On average people touch themselves on their faces 18 times per hour.  This frequent touching is the largest factor why hand washing is so important.

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