There are situations in information technology (IT) work environments in which IT hygiene can be very important to helping prevent the spread of germs that may make people sick. Most basic hygiene rules — such as having hand cleaners and disposable tissues available — apply, as they do in any office environment. Some office policies, such as allowing workers to use the same workstations each day and having a period of time dedicated to cleaning the immediate work area around each employee, also can make a difference. Another effective tip for good IT hygiene is cleaning locations that are handled by many people but might not be obvious, such as power cords, universal serial bus (USB) connectors and keypads on shared peripherals. Using digital methods to transfer data instead of passing portable devices also can help to reduce the amount of germs spread throughout an IT office.
The basics of IT hygiene are the same as those for any office. Hand cleaners or sanitizing gels should be available throughout the area. Tissues, napkins or paper towels also should be available so they can be used and discarded along with any germs they are carrying. Employees who are sick should stay home and not come into the workplace.
One area of IT hygiene that often is overlooked is the necessary sharing of documents and data storage devices. Germs can travel on an instruction manual, technical specification, compact disc or thumb drive just as effectively as on the mouthpiece of a telephone. Minimizing the amount of physical objects that are passed from one person to another can help greatly, especially when the tasks can be performed just as easily through a network.
Beyond obvious areas where IT hygiene is important, such as communally used machines including printers and scanners, there also might be less obvious peripherals that should be cleaned regularly. These can include chargers for mobile devices, tablets and styluses; cables that are regularly swapped out; and even power switches on surge protectors. These surfaces should be wiped down frequently to prevent germs from being spread unknowingly.
Some care also should be taken when replacing or moving hardware, especially if the hardware is being replaced with refurbished or recycled pieces. Keyboards, mice and other devices should be cleaned before being installed in a workstation. Even though it might not have been used for some time, germs could survive or accumulate on the surface of the hardware.