Creating a Healthy Office Environment

December 17, 2013 | Written by Rose in WATER COOLER TALK

Making the workplace a healthy place, and a productive place, is one of easiest things we can do. It’s not particularly time-consuming, expensive or complicated. It does, however, require a commitment across the organization, starting at the top, so it’s important to make healthy workplace practices part of your company culture. Here are six ways to create a healthier office environment.

Keep Air Fresh, Flowing and Comfortable

Did you know long, closed-door meetings can cause high levels of carbon dioxide? Did you know an improperly heated or cooled office can hamper productivity and increase the risk of accidents? Did you know 10 percent of all asthma cases only exhibit symptoms at work? Did you know poor indoor air quality is the top environmental health problem in America?

Allow for plenty of ventilation, change air filters and clean ducts regularly, and minimize the use of sprayed chemicals. Also, 77 degrees is an ideal temperature for office productivity, according to research from Cornell University.

Show the Green

Plants, that is. Aside from creating a more comfortable, serene setting, plants help to filter the air. Some even transform chemical particles into harmless substances, while research in Europe found that indoor plants can reduce stress. Just make sure you choose strong, resilient plants. The last thing you want is employees bickering over who killed the plants.

Provide Healthy Snacks

Everyone loves the free candy dish, but that just makes us fat and unproductive. Healthy snacks, like fruit, nuts and even coffee and tea can boost productivity by boosting energy levels. Unhealthy snacks, like most candy and chips, contribute to chronic diseases that cause time off from work and higher health insurance premiums.

Let There Be Light

Provide plenty of lighting – including as much natural light as possible. Hold meetings outside when weather permits to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Full-spectrum lighting is the next best thing, providing sun-like light that makes colors more vibrant. Insufficient lighting not only strains the eyes, but it can cause stress and put people in a bad mood.

Clean, Clean, Clean

Bathrooms, break rooms, kitchens, conference rooms, copy rooms – any common area needs to be cleaned and disinfected daily. Individuals need to do their part by practicing proper personal hygiene and cleaning their workspaces. Employers need to do their part by having sanitizer dispensers installed throughout the office and hiring a cleaning service.

Use Common Sense

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 38 percent injuries resulting in time off from work in 2011 were muscle sprains, strains and tears. Back injuries caused by heavy lifting topped the list, followed by falls. Sure, accidents will happen, but workplaces will be much safer if we lift only what we can handle, use proper technique, help each other and clean up our toys at the end of the day!

What do you do to create a healthy office environment?

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