Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Hygiene Figures Show Contact Centers to be Sick Environments

November 30, 2007

Research studies examining the health impacts of the contact center industry generally focus on the contact center agent and the pressures of the environment and the job itself. Many studies have reported that the stress of a contact center job has produced increased health problems for individuals.

A recent study produced by PROtech IT Hygiene, a UK IT equipment cleaning company, shows that these individuals could also get sick as a result of their equipment.

Figures released by PROtech IT indicated that office telephones, keyboards and mice are the key areas for germs to harbor. These germs can and do include the deadly E-Coli bacteria.

The number of sick days for a UK employee averages 9.8 days per year. As a result, the hygiene of the workplace in getting more attention as the average desk is capable of supporting roughly 10 million microbes and the average office contains 20,961 microbes per square inch.

These figures are especially important for contact center agents as telephones harbor the most germs. Standard office phones hold up to 25,127 microbes per square inch. Keyboards and mice – also used heavily by contact center agents – hold up to 3,295 and 1,676 microbes per square inch respectively.

“A company’s performance can be undermined by inadequate workplace hygiene,” says Graham Thwaites, Managing Director of PROtech IT Hygiene in a company statement. “Germs and dirt can accumulate, causing technology to malfunction, and increased absence amongst staff.”

”Companies are taking IT hygiene far more seriously than ever before and we hope the new website will prove to be an invaluable source of information. We’re confident that the IT and computer equipment cleaning services we offer are the most effective on the UK market and our new online presence will provide anyone looking for IT hygiene services, the information to help them choose the right service to match their needs,” Thwaites added.

In an office environment, especially the contact center where several hundred individuals can be working in one room, viruses can easily spread. Someone infected with a cold or flu bug that touches a surface can transfer the germs to that surface where it will remain for as long as 72 hours.

The company also released additional hygiene facts that could easily make one’s stomach turn, such as the amount of human skin lost in a day or the number of individuals who fail to wash their hands after using the restroom.

A key point for all contact center employees – if your employer is not ensuring your station is cleaned between agent shift changes, bring along a disinfectant and get to cleaning before you get to work. Management may balk at first, until they notice the reduction in sick time.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC and has also written for To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.