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Survey Shows Flu Virus Set to Make Workers, Businesses Ill this Season



  Survey Shows Flu Virus Set to Make Workers, Businesses Ill this Season

     Staples offers products to help keep the workplace clean and healthy

Business Wire

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. -- November 12, 2012

Nearly 80 percent of office workers polled come to work even when they know
they are sick, according to the third annual Flu Season Survey from Staples,
an increase of 20 percent over last year. For those that stay home, more than
two-thirds return to work when they are still contagious, putting coworkers’
health and business productivity at risk.

In a typical year, the flu virus is responsible for approximately 70 million
missed workdays and an estimated $10 billion in lost office productivity.
Survey results also show that employees could do more to keep the workplace
healthy: half of office workers don’t clean their workspaces regularly and are
unaware of the dirtiest surfaces in the office.

Staples offers solutions to help maintain a healthy workplace by keeping
things clean – whether a home office, small-to-mid-sized business or large
enterprise. From simple items, such as hand sanitizer, to large-scale
industrial cleaning products and techniques, Staples has the solutions to keep
workers healthy and productive.

“At Staples, we know that companies are already doing more with fewer
resources, and flu season has the potential to impact productivity,” said Lisa
Hamblet, vice president for facility solutions at Staples Advantage, the
business-to-business division of Staples. “Prevention is key, and using the
right supplies is critical. Products such as hands-free soap, paper towel
dispensers, disinfectants and sanitizers, along with staff awareness, can help
keep an office healthy.”

Survey data shows office workers continue to make avoidable mistakes that fuel
the spread of germs:

  * 51 percent of employees only clean their desks once a week or less, even
    though germs can live on surfaces for up to three days, especially on the
    keyboard – typically one of the dirtiest personal workspace items.
  * 25 percent believe that door knobs/handles are the dirtiest places in the
    office, while only 6 percent recognize that the break room sink is
    actually the dirtiest, followed by the office microwave, which only 8
    percent selected.
  * 65 percent feel the number of days necessary to be out of the office with
    the flu is one to three days and often return to work contagious, as the
    flu virus may be contagious for one day before symptoms develop and up to
    five to seven days after becoming sick.

Survey findings also revealed that nearly half of workers cited their concern
about completing work as the reason they don’t stay home sick. More than a
quarter of respondents come to work to avoid using a sick day, even though a
majority of those surveyed indicated their average productivity level while
sick was only around 50 percent.

Facility Managers and Business Service Contractors First Line of Defense

The task of maintaining a healthy work environment is increasingly falling to
facility managers (FMs) and building service contractors. Staples separately
surveyed this group to determine challenges faced during flu season. The
discrepancies between office workers and FMs indicate confusion over who is
responsible for cleaning when it comes to flu prevention in the workplace.

Results revealed that almost 40 percent of FMs and their staff are not
responsible for cleaning occupants’ personal workspaces. More than half of
respondents answered they barely increase the time spent cleaning (between 0 –
10 percent more of their time) during flu season.

According to FMs, some of the top challenges in keeping a building clean and
healthy are:

  * More employees working in the same or smaller space (53 percent).
  * Not enough staff to adequately clean (46 percent).
  * A decrease in budget for cleaning products (21 percent) with half of
    respondents citing that they are unable to provide hand sanitizer and 40
    percent unable to provide tissues for employees.

However, survey results revealed that nearly half of all respondents believed
they would need less than a 10 percent budget increase to adequately address
germ control in their buildings. Currently, more than 50 percent of FM’s
aren’t ordering cleaning and disinfecting chemicals.

Staples recommends these easy steps to help maintain a healthier work
environment:

Offer/encourage a telecommuting program: Employers may want to consider
implementing a telecommuting program – or encourage use of an existing program
– as a way to help address employees coming into the office when sick. Of
those respondents whose company offers a telecommuting option, nearly half
take advantage of the option when sick to avoid spreading germs in office.

Stock up: Nearly half of office workers surveyed request specific items be
provided by employers, such as sanitizing wipes, touch-free restroom fixtures,
waterless hand sanitizers and antibacterial soap in restrooms and break rooms.
Survey results show break rooms need special attention, as most workers aren’t
aware of the hidden germs lurking there.

Educate: The similarities between last year’s survey results and this year’s
indicate that office workers are still unsure how to best fight the flu.
Educate your staff about how often to clean their desks, how long they should
stay home when sick and crucial areas in the office that need to be frequently
disinfected, so your business can prevent the spread of flu and other
illnesses.

Helpful Resources for Businesses of all Sizes

Staples.com offers products and tips to keep small businesses running
smoothly.

Staples Advantage Facility Solutions, offers product information, whitepapers,
case studies, videos, webinars and other tools to help facility managers and
building service contractors fend off the damage of flu season.

About the Survey

Staples conducted an online survey of more than 150 office workers and 100 FMs
at organizations of all sizes across the U.S. The survey, conducted in
September 2012, asked a series of questions about hygiene in the workplace and
flu knowledge.

About Staples

Staples is the world’s largest office products company and second largest
internet retailer. The company provides products, services and expertise in
office supplies, copy & print, technology, facilities and breakroom, and
furniture. Staples invented the office superstore concept in 1986 and now has
annual sales of $25 billion, ranking second in the world in eCommerce sales.
With 88,000 associates worldwide, Staples operates in 26 countries throughout
North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia, making it easy for
businesses of all sizes, and consumers. The company is headquartered outside
Boston. More information about Staples (Nasdaq: SPLS) is available
at www.staples.com/media.

About Staples Advantage

Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, Inc. (Nasdaq:
SPLS), serves organizations of 20 or more employees up to the Fortune 1000,
including global businesses, local, state and federal government, healthcare
organizations and educational institutions. The Staples Advantage one source
solution includes comprehensive products and services from office supplies,
technology and printing to promotional products, furniture and facility
supplies. Dedicated to providing organizations with greater cost savings and
improved ordering efficiencies, Staples Advantage provides a customized level
of account support and best-in-class customer service. More information is
available at www.staplesadvantage.com.

Contact:

Staples Advantage
Nina Akerley, 469-262-4685
nina.akerley@staples.com
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