Germ warfare

Ok, so this post isn’t about fighting with germs, but rather fighting against them.  A recent Crain’s Chicago Business article on germophobes set me to thinking.  I’m curious how much office productivity is lost by excessive concern or fear of germs.  Although we have seen some major advancements in office and restroom automation, I have noticed that very few office buildings have fully automated restrooms.  It always seems to be the flush mechanism OR the sinks OR the hand dryers – never seems to be all of the above and the worst culprit (the exit door) always seems to be a pull door from the inside and never automated.  Why don’t they add automatic door buttons for restroom doors so we don’t have to touch the handle, since we never know for certain if the last person thoroughly washed their hands before putting them all over the door handle?

But I digress.  I wouldn’t consider myself a germophobe, but I have worked with some individuals who describe themselves as having extreme obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  One former colleague refused to shake hands with anybody and always tried to piggy-back on restroom departures.  Getting back to my original concern, has anyone run a study on the impact of germophobia in the workplace?  I would surmise that a few simple planning steps taken by the project services group and incorporated into the build-out could go a long way to allaying fear of co-worker contagion and allow some individuals to have the peace of mind to work their best.  Perhaps certain layout changes or natural airflow and light incorporation (signature features of sustainable design) could help produce a healthier workplace.

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