How Does Your Office Affect Your Health?

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January 16, 2018

If you spend the majority of your week at work, you deserve to know whether or not your workplace could be affecting your health. Unfortunately, an important factor that affects your overall health at work is present in every office--and is often overlooked: your office air quality.

Many of us take for granted that the air we’re breathing is healthy and safe since it’s not something we can typically see–but this isn’t the case, especially for air that’s indoors. In fact, indoor air can be 5x more polluted than outdoors, which can affect allergies, asthma, productivity, and more–even our quality of sleep.

Poor air office quality can reduce productivity and revenues by 10%. How can you make sure the air in your workplace is safe and healthy? It’s easier than you think. Here are a few quick ways you can take control of how your office air is affecting you:

Let in Fresh Air

Each person exhales about 2.3 pounds of carbon dioxide every day, and while it’s not necessarily a toxic gas, it can have a big impact on your ability to focus. This is because carbon dioxide is notorious for causing drowsiness, lack of concentration, and confusion.

Conference rooms filled with a team are at risk for high levels at carbon dioxide. To make sure you're getting the most productivity out of your meetings, keep your CO2 levels low by opening a window or door. Allowing fresh air from outdoors to ventilate through your classroom will help keep your students alert and ready to learn.

Keep the Temperature Just Right

Temperature obviously plays a major role in our overall comfort, but it can also affect our productivity. Too high or low temperature in your office can be distracting and will not allow you to focus and function properly.

If you can, advocate for your office temperature to be within the productivity sweet spot: between 70°F and  77°F.

Keep Dust at a Minimum

Dust can quickly collect around an office on desks, shelves, and more, and it can cause more discomfort than we realize, since dust can irritate your eyes, skin, and ability to breathe–in some cases, too much dust can also trigger allergies, asthma, and eczema.

To help you stay comfortable and focused, wipe down your desk regularly with a damp cloth (try to avoid dry dusters, since they’ll spread dust into the air). If  a cleaning crew vacuum’s the office, be sure to let the room air out for a while before you and your coworkers enter, since vacuuming spreads dust that was previously trapped in your office’s carpet into the air.

Advocate for Safe Cleaning Practices

Offices can be notorious for spreading germs (especially during flu season), and to combat many office managers will typically have workspaces cleaned often by a cleaning crew.

Unfortunately, the type of products cleaning crews use to disinfect offices can contain harmful chemicals known as VOCs, which will evaporate from desks long after they’ve been cleaned. VOCs can give you flu-like symptoms, including dizziness, headaches, nausea, coughing, and sneezing.

Advocate for your office to use safer alternatives to common cleaning products, including VOC-free disinfectants.

Create a Healthier and More Productive Workspace

One of the best ways to make sure your office is a safe and healthy space for you and your coworkers is to track your indoor air quality with the help of Awair. Awair tracks toxins and chemicals in your air and gives you personalized recommendations to help you stay safe and healthy.