With colder weather approaching, flu and colds follow closely. This is especially true in the workplace. Luckily, there are easy solutions for stopping viruses and bacteria in their tracks. From cleaning with the right products to encouraging healthy employee practices, your office can create an effective barrier to illness. Here are some office products and strategies that will keep sickness at bay (and your workers happier and more productive.)
Why winter is the season of illnesses~root~>
Both the cold and flu viruses thrive in late fall and winter weather conditions. This is not because cold weather necessarily ushers in these nasty viruses. Medical experts believe that a combination of lifestyle adjustments in winter, reduced sunlight and less humidity contribute to people getting sick in the winter months.
When it’s cold outside, people huddle up indoors, getting less fresh air. Less sunlight reduces vitamin D levels, which can weaken immune systems. Heat and moisture act as a barrier to the influenza virus, so when the mercury drops, and the air becomes crisp and dry, the virus has a field trip.
The cold and flu season starts in fall, and roughly runs from October to March, although the peak season is from December to February. Recent seasons, such as those experienced in 2009 and 2017-2018 were quite severe. In 2017-2018, two strains of the flu thrived.
How to prevent seasonal sickness~root~>
There are strategies for reducing the flu and other cold weather sicknesses from overtaking your office. These involve vaccination, cleanliness and encouraging good habits.
Knock out the flu with a quick shot
The most effective flu prevention is vaccination. This is especially important when you consider that the consequences of influenza can be much more devastating than missed work days. Influenza is potentially severe and can lead to extended sickness, hospitalization and even death. If your office is small, plan a group office lunch trip that ends with a visit to a convenient pharmacy or other flu shot dispensary. If you have a larger office, you may be able to schedule an in-office flu vaccination day. Contact your health care provider or the flu vaccine finder for more information.
Use disinfecting wipes to wipe away germs, bacteria and viruses
Next to vaccination, keeping your office germ-free is your best shot at reducing the spread of illnesses. Germs and other dangerous microorganisms love to multiply on hard surfaces that are frequently touched, such as countertops, faucet handles and doorknobs. While most offices have many germ-attracting surfaces, it is also relatively simple to keep the nastiness away.
Stock your office with disinfectant wipes. Disinfectant wipes are convenient and foolproof solutions for hard surfaces in offices, such as desks, conference tables, breakroom counters, tables, chairs and countertops. They are simple to use and dispense easily from their containers. Also, they come in a wide variety of scents, such as lavender and jasmine so that you can infuse your office with a pleasant fragrance, too.
Since you want to encourage their use frequently, it’s crucial to make disinfectant wipes conveniently available to employees. To do this, place disinfectant wipe containers throughout the office. Put containers in easy-to-reach areas, such as on each employee’s workstation, and breakroom counters. If you stow wipes away in cabinets, make sure employees know where they are. Make sure to check inventory frequently, too.
Make sure everyone knows how to use disinfecting wipes
Disinfecting wipes are only effective if used correctly. It may seem simple, but some people use too many wipes or do not thoroughly clean areas that harbor the most germs, such as door handles. Experts suggest a somewhat surprising method of using disinfectant wipes. In order to kill germs you should wipe surfaces until visibly wet, then allow to air dry for four minutes. Most people continue to wipe until dry, a method that can simply spread germs on the surface. Ensure your employees’ health by instructing everyone on basic disinfectant wipe use.
Many of the disinfectant wipes on the market are also appropriate for general cleaning but might not be the best way to clean major spills. Make sure that your office is well-stocked with various cleaning supplies, and keep the disinfecting wipes for sanitation purposes.
Janitorial staff or whoever is tasked with cleaning should be instructed to use disinfectant wipes on surfaces, instead of dry dusting or using a product that merely cleans without killing pathogens.
Have janitorial staff use disinfectant wipes in restrooms
A container of disinfecting wipes on a bathroom vanity countertop encourages employees to wipe down the most germ-laden areas, such as faucet handles. While disinfectant cleaner may be used by janitorial staff in a more facilities maintenance-minded approach, make sure that toilet seats, flush levers, stall doors and any other areas that come in contact with people are given a final disinfectant wipe at the end of cleaning.
Take other precautions for reducing winter illness
There are a host of other steps offices can take to help keep employees healthy. Most of these involve encouraging healthy habits. Employers can encourage sick employees to stay home. Of course, businesses lose productivity when an employee stays home, but the loss of one person’s daily effort is preferable to infecting the entire office. Setting up remote work capabilities is another effective way to manage illness and productivity for employees and managers who must work.
- Furthermore, employers can put hand washing reminder signs in kitchens and bathrooms, and make sure that there is an ample supply of hand washing supplies. Another cleaning-focused activity involves scheduling staff cleanup parties, where employees clear off desks, disinfect phone receivers, keyboards, and other objects that might be left out of the routine cleaning loop.
Winter illnesses can rob your office of productivity. When many people congregate indoors during the cold weather, cold germs, flu viruses and other illness-causing microorganisms spread out everywhere. Wellness requires prevention, which can take the form of a flu vaccine, and disinfectant cleaning for the cold and other illnesses. Keep your office wellness-minded, and you’ll be able to reduce winter illness’ toll on your office.