Whether creating a new workspace or making changes to your current one, the focus on maintaining a healthy office building has never been more important. When the work environment provides an optimal atmosphere for employee health, employees are more productive and have fewer absences. When the topic turns to healthy workplaces many people immediately think of sanitary practices, especially during the time of a public health crisis. Sanitation is a key component of a healthy office environment, but putting other practices into place is also vital to promoting employee health.
Some changes to your office space are easy to implement but others involve more extensive planning and implementation procedures. Proper employee training also plays a large role in your ability to roll out new safety and wellness processes, so it is important to be as clear with any procedure changes. If you are interested in learning ways to create a better working environment for employee health, consider these five ways to make your office healthier.
1. Incorporate Natural Light Sources
Employees who spend a large amount of time in an office setting benefit from having a natural light source during the day. Newly built or renovated commercial office buildings often focus on natural light sources to reduce the amount of artificial light needed, lower electricity costs, and make the workplace more attractive to employees, clients, or customers.
Natural light provides additional benefits other than making an office look nice. Reducing or eliminating artificial lighting can help alleviate eye strain and headaches. Employees who have access to windows that let in light that changes during the day can reap some of the benefits of being outdoors while remaining inside the building.
Natural light follows the pattern of the sun throughout the day, which helps employees keep a proper circadian rhythm. Healthy sleep is important for everything from a person’s immune system to hormone regulation, so the effects of natural light on an employee’s body are more important than you may think. When planning a natural light environment for your office, make sure to arrange furniture in a way that avoids glares on computer screens or heavy shadows on work areas. The strategic use of curtains or blinds can also help filter the light in the most beneficial way.
2. Reevaluate Sanitation Procedures
The spread of illness in an office environment is hard to completely eliminate, but adding new sanitation procedures can reduce the likelihood significantly. Establish year-round policies so that employees have already developed clean habits before widespread illness occurs or peak seasonal illness begins. Frequently cleaning high-touch surfaces, such as the keyboard and computer mouse of a shared workspace or the doorknobs of entrances and office areas is one way to reduce surface transmission. A robust sick leave policy and instructions for
employees to avoid working when running a fever or showing other signs of illness also keeps transmission rates lower.
When deciding how to keep your office sanitized, consider the type of cleaning company you hire. Choosing a company with green-cleaning principles reduces toxic chemical exposure for your employees. Low-odor products and alternatives to harsh chemicals when possible can keep irritants out of the office. Your chosen cleaning company should also be well-versed in current safety and sanitation protocols so the office remains free from bacteria and viruses but does not become inundated with harsh chemical odors.
3. Improve Indoor Air Quality and Ventilation
Hiring a green cleaning company helps maintain a healthy workplace through the reduction of chemical odors, but cleaning chemicals are not the only concern when it comes to indoor air quality. Employees who spend a large portion of the day in an indoor office setting need to breathe air that is well-ventilated and clean for optimum health. If your office has never been tested for indoor air quality, make it a priority for the sake of employee health.
Whenever possible, choose building materials, paint, floor coverings, and furniture that do not off-gas and release toxins in the air. Many materials are labeled or certified as low-VOC or low-emission, but you can also ask your contractor to compile a list of materials that fall into this category. Humidity is also important to air quality since an office space that is too humid can lead to mold or mildew in the walls, ceiling, or vents. Purchasing a dehumidifier can help with this issue. Consider upgrading an old HVAC system for a more modern one if air circulation seems to be less than ideal. Many offices use air purifying systems to capture and eliminate pollutants from the indoor air.
4. Focus on Employee Personal Wellness
Clean and bright office space can be even more impactful when combined with a workplace culture focused on employee wellness. Wellness programs include resources for improving general employee health or specific conditions. The plans may include challenges or competitions or simply provide instructions for a workout or meal plans. You can also make sure the design of your office building is conducive to healthy eating and physical fitness in several ways.
• On-site fitness facility
• On-site cafeteria or café with healthy eating options
• Bicycle rack to encourage riding to work
• Healthy options in vending machines
• Workstations that can be adjusted for standing
• Reward program for hitting wellness milestones or completing challenges
5. Focus on Mental Health
When considering wellness options, many people focus on physical fitness as the main health concern. Although physical health is a key component to employee wellness, mental health is also a factor to consider. Establishing an
environment that promotes calm and relaxation reduces stress. Incorporating a workplace design that allows employees freedom while working and promotes a collaborative effort with coworkers can also go a long way toward creating a positive working environment.
Visual elements such as green plants and relaxing paint colors brought included in the office design can help employees feel like the office is a home away from home. Giving employees time and a designated space to take breaks outdoors is another way to promote mental wellness. For those experiencing concerns, provide an easily-accessible mental health resource list.
Make Your Office a Healthy Place to Work
Creating a healthy office building is a multi-faceted process, but it is worth it for the result of a healthier workforce. Some solutions are as easy as implementing procedural changes or adding programs to support employees on the journey to increased wellness. Other solutions may involve evaluating the status of your physical building and implementing changes as necessary to improve the quality and safety of the indoor environment. Or it can mean moving to a building that has been designed by a commercial development company that is committed to building environmentally healthy spaces. However, you choose to create a better environment, know that any effort you make toward creating a more healthy workplace is worth the investment.
If you have any questions about workplace design or how to make an office building become the ideal space for your company, contact Ellicott Development to examine your options. A property management company with expertise about a variety of building space types, a member of the professional team can answer your questions about any type of commercial space.