Much of the country has endured an unusually intense winter this year, and everyone is looking forward to spring. The return of warmer temperatures is always welcome, but springtime comes with its own issues. Allergy season arrives with the first flowers each year, and before you know it, half the office is coming in with red eyes and runny noses, and the other half is calling in sick. Allergic rhinitis and hay fever are miserable for sufferers, not to mention a serious problem for employers. So what can you do to lessen the impact of allergy season on your office?
Encourage staff to get an allergy test
Knowledge is power. If employees can identify their triggers, they can take measures to cut down on their exposure and find more effective allergy treatments. Sometimes the culprit is less obvious than you think. Your receptionist may blame the season, but may actually be having a reaction to animal hair on a co-worker’s clothes. You can consult with an allergy specialist and possibly even offer free screenings to your employees.
Institute a fragrance-free office policy
Air fresheners and perfumes can be allergy triggers on their own, but they are also responsible for worsening symptoms if your staff is already suffering. It might not be a popular measure when it’s first announced, but it can make a big difference.
Block environmental allergens
Pollen is the number one offender this time of year. While you can’t control what goes on outside, you can take steps within the office. Ventilation is a big factor. Relying on open windows for fresh air brings all of that pollen inside, so make sure your office has a good filtration system. Schedule regular maintenance and servicing of your heating and air conditioning systems, and replace filters often.
Control dust mites
These invisible little critters are responsible for a disproportionate amount of discomfort. If your staff is already struggling with pollen allergies, dust mites can only exacerbate the problem. Frequent vacuuming is one of the best ways to combat them, so up the frequency of your cleaning service during high-allergy times, and request that the upholstery and curtains be cleaned as well. Wipe down computers and electronics often with a microfiber cloth. Allergy control products such as free-standing HEPA air filters in problem areas can be very effective.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are fumes in the atmosphere which can irritate the lungs, causing shortness of breath. For those with seasonal allergy symptoms, this can compound their respiratory distress. The most common source of VOCs in the workplace is cleaning products. Check with your cleaners and request VOC-free cleaning fluids. Fighting back against allergies isn’t easy, but it is worth it. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergies account for nearly 4 million missed or lost workdays every year, with a total of more than $700 million of lost productivity. By making allergy control a priority in your office you’ll make life better for your employees, and you’ll breathe a little easier, too.