It’s not just sitting for long hours in the office trying to meet one deadline after the next that is sapping all the energy from you.

Not taking breaks, people sneezing over you, snatching a chocolate here and there to ward off hunger pains and staring at your computer hour after hour are all affecting your physical wellbeing and your mental health.

If you aren’t healthy, you can’t work – certainly not at levels that are productive. Many employees who fail to show up at the office aren’t even seriously ill – they’re run-down, unmotivated, unhappy and stressed.

Here are the 4 most common office distractions and health risks lurking in almost every office, and how to tackle them head on.

1. Oh the Noise!

Sometimes it just seems as though the regular noise of the office is such that you can’t think straight. An office needs to make room for quietness – quiet zones which are a refuge from the loudness out there. This is a room where others know that the people using the room expect no noise to intrude the quietness.

The easiest fix to address this is to buy a good pair of noise canceling headphones. They work like magic in filtering out all the outside and background noise in your surroundings, letting you focus on the task at hand.

From a employer standpoint, consider introducing desk screens which offer people more privacy and which can also be useful for blocking noise. Bosses can also look at more costlier solutions such as insulating walls and investing in carpets.

2. Ergonomic Injuries

Office workers spend many hours of their day seated at a desk. This results in strain and injuries related to bad posture and repetitive movement. A variety of adjustable ergonomic chairs with proper lumbar and back support are available on the market, some even in the budget category.

A recent trend in ergonomics is to stand while you work, either via a standing desk or sit-stand chair that keep your body in an upright position. Both are great options if your budget allows for them.

3. Poor Indoor Air Quality

Poor indoor air quality contributes to occupational allergies and respiratory disorders. There can be so many contaminants in the air that cause these health problems – office overcrowding, office design that blocks off air flow, inadequate ventilation systems, water damage and mold growth and dirty work environments.

Studies tell us that bad air can actually reduce a worker’s ability to think and the ability to make better decisions, limiting workplace performance. Yes, modern offices today and of the future have architects creating buildings and office spaces which ensures indoor environmental quality, but what about older buildings?  If you’re in an older building you can’t suddenly demand that your building be upgraded, but there are a few changes that can be made –

  • use a vacuum with a hepa-filter at least 3x a week on carpets and upholstered furniture to reduce dust and mites
  • keep contaminants at bay with the use of floor mats at each entrance. These mat reduce tracked in sources of dirt
  • keep a healthy level of humidity in your building. Modern air conditioners dehumidify as they cool. If your office doesn’t have an air conditioner, invest in a dehumidifier, making your office less hospitable to allergens such as mold and dust.

4. Office Clutter and Mayhem

De-cluttering and basic cleanliness can prevent the spread of illnesses and diseases in the workplace. Piles of ancient files and paper breed germs and clutter actually limits your brain’s ability to process information. Office kitchens, rubbish bins, bathrooms and rest-rooms should all be regularly cleaned and sanitized. A good idea is to pay for an office cleaning service who provide a checklist of services.

Conclusion:

Health, happiness and wellbeing in the office is a hot topic today to diminish the risk of injury and illness in the workplace.

There are professionals who can become involved to help with introducing healthy habits in the office. If however, you’re going it alone in your office, identify risks, develop a plan and put that plan into action because it should be in every company’s interest to have contented, healthy employees.

References: 

  1. Allen, J. Harvard Business Review.Research: Stale Office Air Is Making You Less Productive. Available at https://hbr.org/2017/03/research-stale-office-air-is-making-you-less-productive
  2. Consumer Reports: Best noise canceling headphones Available at: https://www.consumerreports.org/noise-canceling-headphones/who-makes-the-best-noise-canceling-headphones/
  3. Ergotrends. Best Ergonomic Office Chairs Available at http://ergonomictrends.com/best-ergonomic-office-chairs-reviews-buyers-guide/
  4. Doland, E. Europa. Scientists find physical clutter negatively affects your ability to focus, process in Available at http://forumeuropa.net/printthread.php?tid=2942

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