A healthy office is a productive office


Any staff member missing from your team can have an effect on how productive your office is, but when a virus hits, such as flu or a stomach bug, it can become your worst nightmare.

Viruses and bugs can spread like wildfire through an office environment, laying off several or more staff within a very short space of time. The knock on effect means that issues have to be faced, such as:

  • Slowdown on manufacturing, if this applies to your company
  • Decrease in general output, whatever industry you are in
  • Potential breakdown in communications
  • Hiring in temporary staff to fill in the gaps, causing more expense
  • Possible loss of important revenue

Depending on which staff may be affected, it can be hard to replace them at the drop of a hat, as very few temporary staff can walk straight into a placement and know what they are doing. Certainly for the first few days, or even weeks, they will not be as productive as your current employee, who holds that particular position in your organisation. If the position requires an element of training, this will take up your or another member of staffs’ time, possibly making you or them less productive as well.

It is difficult to stop any germs entering your office environment, but there are measures you can take to minimise the potential spread of contagious illnesses.

Putting measures in place for a healthy, productive workplace

As an employer, you can only do so much to prevent problems before they occur, but preventative measures are better than none. Generally though, cleanliness in the workplace is of great importance whether illness has hit or not.

By law, employers must show due diligence towards employee health, as decreed by the Health and Safety Executive in the UK. Employees however, have no such conditions imposed upon them, so one of the first things to do is make them aware of basic hygiene rules within the office or factory environment.

Keeping check on healthy standards is difficult, but here are some basic principles to adopt to help keep your staff healthy and productive when contagious illnesses hit.

  • If you have a small office, appoint a ‘monitor’ to check on communal areas such as bathrooms, staff room etc., any areas that are regularly visited by employees.
  • If your organisation is medium to large, ensure that your appointed cleaning company are aware that an infection or build up of bacteria has occurred, and get them to treat it properly with more intensive cleaning, not just a wipe of a duster.
  • Put up hygienic practice posters in these communal areas – it would be a good idea to have one outside as well as inside these areas. Posters should include even the obvious elements, such as washing hands.
  • Without overkill, a few other signs actually in toilet cubicles to encourage employees to ‘close the toilet lid before flushing’ or similar. It may sound slightly obvious, but if an employee is in a hurry, they can forget! Germs that collect around a toilet are rapidly spread into the air (known as aerolisation), allowing them to breed prolifically. This type of spread is the major cause of stomach bugs and the resultant diarrhoea type symptoms.
  • Handling employees without offending them is difficult, but try to convince them not to use mobile phones in communal areas, get them to go outside. Mobiles put down on bathroom surfaces or tables in staff restrooms hold an incredible amount of bacteria.
  • For the longer term, and if there are no budget constraints, try to instal ‘hands free soap dispensers’ – this will avoid the spread of germs from sticky bars of soap (these are a no-no!) and are better than the push ones, where germs can still congregate.
  • Antimicrobial liquid – this is the kind of item you see in doctors surgeries and hospitals. It is an effective antiseptic cleanser for hands that will destroy a multitude of germs and bacteria. Have some in the bathrooms, and if applicable, in other parts of your building.

Longer term precautions

In order to keep your company productive most of the time, and to avoid sickness spreading through your building, some longer term measures may be good to consider. Most of the above suggestions are cost effective, but others may need more investment, but will show results for the future.

Investing in motion-sensored lights in bathrooms, will eliminate the need to turn lights on and off by hand – another way of stopping the multiplication and spread of germs.

Another good idea is not to use ‘fresh air sprays’ in the bathroom – these of course have to be operated by hand. There are automatic aroma dispensers on the market that need not be touched by human hands! Another investment to consider.

Finally, if you have an in-house dining facility, it is wise to check out their hygiene practices and ensure that they have a current certificate from your local Environmental Health office.

How alldayDr can help

Even if you put all of these elements into practice, another helping hand is always welcome. alldayDr is a service available to corporates who care about their employees health. Your staff can access consultations with doctors at any time, rather than wait for their own surgery to fit them in for an appointment. This way, you can help beat infections in the office in a much shorter time. Talking to a doctor in real time could solve illnesses spreading and cut the cost and time of employees absenteeism, as well as care and concern for their health.

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