After the arduous and unpredictable winter that we have had, spring is a welcome relief. However, for those with spring allergies it is a dreaded time when pollen attempts to bring down your entire respiratory system and being in an office with little air flow can inhibit one’s ability to avoid the inevitable spring cold. “Allergies are one of the top three reasons people miss work, and can have a significant effect on productivity. So it’s very important for business owners to recognize that they should do some simple things that can reduce overall exposure to allergens and other irritants,”says Dr. James Sublett, an allergy specialist at the Family Allergy and Asthma Clinic in Louisville,KY. We may be just getting out of winter, however, cold season is upon us and there are probably a couple coworkers sniffling and coughing in your office as you read. Here are some ways that you can protect your office from allergens and spring colds:
1. Keep Common Areas Clean
When’s the last time you saw someone sanitize the buttons or handle on the microwave? Or the coffee pot? Common places that everyone in your office touches everyday probably doesn’t get the same sort of attention as the restroom does. The microwave, coffee pot, break room counters, and sink faucets are hot spots for germs to congregate because these are the areas that are most often touched by pretty much everyone in the office several times a day.
So promote keeping these areas clean by keeping disinfectant wipes in the common area to have employees disinfect the areas after use, and keep hand sanitizer near these common areas to encourage your employees to keep their hands clean. Because, it is not simply touching a germ-infested area that causes you to be sick, it is touching your face after touching the area that causes you to contract the illness. “Every time we go out into one of those common areas, every time we shake hands with someone, every time we touch anything, we bring [germs] back to our desk,” says Kelly Arehart, senior manager of global innovation at Kimberly-Clark Professional, which helps businesses fight germ transmissions through its Healthy Workplace Project.
2. Sanitize Your Hands Before Eating or Touching Your Face
Although your hands may not appear visibly dirty, they could be covered in germs. Just think of all of surfaces that you touch before washing your hands, most people only wash their hands when they go to the restroom. Hand sanitizer is a good way to eliminate germs in between visits to the restroom. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol can be a temporary fix if your hands are not visibly dirty. Sanitizing in between everything you touch may be a little overkill, however, keeping hand sanitizer available in your office may help in preventing more employees from getting sick.
Although there is probably a system put into place to take out the trash and clean the restrooms in your office, the common office areas, such as desk areas probably often get overlooked. One way you can help reduce the spread of germs is by cleaning up your own area. This process could take only a few minutes at the beginning of your day. Simply wipe down your desk, keyboard, and any other items in your area with a disinfectant wipe and you will have done your part to help lessen the spread of germs.
4. Take a Sick Day When You Need One
Even though your team may be working on a major project, if you go into work with a fever you are running the risk of infecting other employees and putting your team behind. 60% of the 1,500 U.S. workers in an October 2014 Staples survey said they'd go to work with flu. However, how valuable are you to your team if you have the flu? Being sick makes you lethargic and less productive. Taking the time to rest when you are sick gives your body time to heal and come back to work a productive and valuable member of your team.
Keep your employees safe from illness this cold season and make sure everyone is following these safety precautions when it comes to their health.