How to Avoid the Office Lurgy

There is no doubt that offices can be a great place for all sorts of viruses and bugs to spread quickly. Office sickness causes countless hours of lost productivity and – according to one recent survey conducted by Management Health Solutions – work absenteeism due to ill health costs Australian business over $33 billion per year! Not surprisingly, the same survey identified that absences were likely to rise during the winter months, when cold and flu viruses are more active.

So taking steps to avoid the office lurgy – both on an individual and business level – will have positive consequences for your workplace. Regardless of whether you are an employee or employer, getting involved in initiating systems and procedures to minimise the risk of infection in the workplace is undoubtedly a positive move.

Here are some suggestions to help reduce the risk of your office becoming unhealthy:

• Arrange for flu shots for the whole office There is a new strain of flu every year. By proactively arranging for office staff to be immunised against the flu, you will reduce absenteeism and in all likelihood increase productivity by ensuring that everyone is arriving at work in good health.

Ensure that all surfaces are cleaned with disinfectant – Germs are easily transmitted through common use areas, such as light switches, desks, door handles, PCs and phones. Implementing a cleaning policy that insists in a disinfectant wipe being used to clean these items will help reduce the risk.

Consider making tissues and anti-bacterial hand sanitiser freely available on all desks – By encouraging the use of these items, you will promote a safer working environment.

Consider adopting a strict policy around coughing and sneezing – something like what was adopted by many countries during the swine flu scare. Encourage covering of the nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Insist upon tissues being used just once and then being disposed of. Encourage hand washing immediately after sneezing and the cleaning of any areas that may have been affected, with disinfectant wipes. 

Make it easy for staff to recover – While some people may feel well enough to work, they may be displaying outward signs of the flu or other illness. It may be worth encouraging them to work from home until the symptoms are no longer present. This will make for a happier workplace and still enable work to be completed.

On a personal self-prevention level, you can very easily take some additional steps. Eat or drink lots of Vitamin C, get adequate sleep, exercise and eat nutritious food. Keep warm by wearing layers of clothing – particularly between your neck and waist. By keeping your vital organs warm, you reduce the chance of infection. Also, drink plenty of water and eat well. On cold nights particularly, a quick takeaway meal or blitzing some snap frozen instant meal in the microwave may seem easy, but the nutritional value is low. Ensure that your diet has plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Slow cookers are a great way to cook enjoyable healthy food in winter that not only tastes good, but is also highly nutritious.

By taking these steps, you will help yourself and co-workers remain fit in a healthier and more productive workplace.

The CFS Team
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