And more importantly, how dirty do you think it is? You might well have the neatest and most clutter-free desk in the office, but don’t feel too smug – chances are that it could have up to 400-times more bacteria on it than a toilet seat!
Around 40% of office workers polled by experts at NEC-Mitsubishi in 2004 said they suffered from "Irritable Desk Syndrome" – they told researchers that they were infuriated by too much clutter and paper on their desks but could not be bothered to do anything about it, causing stress and a drop in productivity due to frustration and disorganization.
On the other hand however, there may some benefits to working in a little bit of organised chaos – a recent study by psychologists at the University of Minnesota showed that working at messy desks, tends to stimulate creativity and a willingness to try new things. A neat and organized desk however cultured a more conventional approach, generosity, and strangely, an inclination towards healthy foods!
Regardless of these pros and cons, a messy or cluttered is one thing – but a having a clean workspace can definitely make a difference. Bacteria are far more abundant at people's desks than office restrooms - The average office desktop has 400 times more bacteria than the average office toilet seat, and it's the work areas of the fairer sex that usually contain the most germs.
According to a new study from the University of Arizona, Women have three to four times the number of bacteria in, on and around their desks, phones, computers, keyboards, drawers and personal items as men do!
"I thought for sure men would be germier," said the study’s germ-expert. "But women have more interactions with small children and keep food in their desks. The other problem is makeup."
Women's offices typically looked cleaner, but women tend to have more items that can harbor germs on their desks. Makeup cases are a top culprit, with the phone, purse and desk drawer also common germ homes. Using hand lotion and makeup can also cause problems as lotion often traps germs, while applying make-up, with a lot of mouth- and face-touching transfers them. The worst germ offender however in the office overall is men's wallets.
"It's in your back pocket where it's nice and warm, it's a great incubator for bacteria,"
Mobile phones and personal devices are also high on the list of germ-carriers across both sexes – Particularly considering how many people use their phones in the bathroom! Do you use your phone on the loo?
Another top cause is food, - a 2012 report found that 47 percent of working adults eat meals at their workstations, fifty-five percent of women eat at their desks while 40 percent of men fall foul of the increasingly popular ‘grab-lunch-at-the-desk’ habit. The main problem is that food sitting too long at room temperature provides a cozy place for germs to multiply. (Think crumbs hiding under computer keyboards and under stacks of paper.) And there are other side-effects. The American Diabetic Association advises that while we sit looking very productive, we become mindless overeaters distracted by email, Facebook and phones.
So how best to keep the germs down around the workplace? A good cleaning of your desktop, phone and keyboard once a week should be sufficient for a healthy space. But what to use? A damp paper towel might seem to do the job, but it can actually make things worse. The proper way to keep a desk clean and germ-free is by using disinfectant wipes. Just using a wet paper towel simply spreads the germs around and using soap and water can leave bacteria behind. Make it a habit to use hand-disinfectant wipes or gel too. People who reported using a disinfectant had 25 percent fewer bacteria in their offices than those who didn't – which helps keep workplace germs down to a minimum, and minimizes sick-days due to workplace illnesses such as colds and flu.