AN IT project manager has set up a business specialising in cleaning office technologies to prevent them harbouring harmful viruses and bacteria that can cause illnesses such as colds, flu and norovirus.

Mark Austen, 53, launched Techclean Sussex in Eastbourne at the end of 2017 after 35 years in the IT industry.

He says he identified a gap in the market for the professional cleaning of office technologies that come into contact with human hands.

Bacteria and viruses can survive for up to 24 hours on smooth surfaces such as keyboards and phones, making it easy for illnesses to spread between colleagues.

During three decades in the IT industry, Mark says attitudes towards the cleaning of technology have changed.

He said: “In the 80s and 90s, office computers would have a regular service clean but this stopped when the cost of technologies decreased and it became the norm to upgrade every few years.

“Today, lack of routine cleaning means they become a breeding ground for germs which doesn’t help when an illness is doing the rounds.

“Absenteeism is a major headache and expense for employers so keeping people fit and healthy is priority.

“Periodic deep cleans of communal and desk-based technologies can play an important part in extending the life of the equipment, as well as improving employee wellbeing.”

Mark says that, so far, demand for his services has been highest across call centres and financial services organisations with regional or head offices located in Sussex and surrounding counties.

They typically employ a high number of desk-based staff in open plan environments, so the risk of technologies becoming infected is high when people cough, sneeze or consume food at their workstations.