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7 Ways to Create a Healthier Office Environment

We are a little obsessed at the moment with creating a healthier office environment.

7-ways-create-healthier-office-environmentYes, its true: We’re obsessed with offices. In fact, so excited we can barely stand it. Did you know health is no longer something you pursue before or after work? That’s right, health can be obtained while you work. Are we loving the relationship between building biology and workplaces? You bet we are. It’s like getting married, except the marriage is between work and health. And the great news is, more research is being done to show the relationship between buildings and health (check out McGraw Hill Construction’s Smart Market report on how buildings affect health). If you are interested in higher productivity and employee satisfaction while reducing sick days, keep reading.

Lets talk about all the ways to make an office or workplace healthy.

Air Quality

healthy-office-air-quality-fanWhether it’s new construction or renovation, you can ensure all the building materials and products used will not “toxify” the environment with a lot of off-gassing. In many situations an air flush (forcing air through a new construction building prior to occupancy) could be beneficial. And while we are on products, cleaning products will inhibit good air quality faster than most anything else. So once you make it healthy, don’t ruin it with unhealthy cleaning products. The healthy ones are everywhere, so that’s easy. Let’s also ensure there is not only a smoking ban inside, but one outside as well. Throw in some upgraded air filtration (or at least an individual unit in areas where there are machines like copiers which pollute the air), and your air will be much cleaner. A recent Harvard study showed that cognitive function and response rates are much increased with improved air quality.


Water

healthy-office-pure-waterThe stuff is necessary for life. Research shows we humans still aren’t drinking enough of it; and particularly enough clean and healthy water. Research also shows people will drink more water if its easily accessed. Solution: place healthy filtered water stations at regular intervals.

 

 


Lighting

healthy-office-lightingDid you know lighting is one of the biggest ways your circadian system is regulated? The circadian rhythm is the biological mechanism for regulating the cycle of sleep and activity. Proper lighting, glare control, and exposure to daylight can dramatically influence eyestrain and productivity. It will also decrease eye related health issues such as headaches.

 

 


Fitness

healthy-office-fitness-take-the-stairsExercise at work? Yep, you heard that right. We love incorporating walking and cycling desks. Why not burn more than three times the calories of sitting? Even a standing desk is better than sitting all day. Or, go ahead, ride your bike to work. Many offices are equipped with showers and bike racks. Maybe you are lucky and there is a gym in the office so you can grab a workout during lunch. Yoga classes onsite? Sure, healthy employees are more productive employees. If the above options are not present, at least take the stairs. Six flights a day is enough to offset the average annual weight gain.


Electromagnetic Radiation

healthy-office-hard-wired-networkAdmittedly, this is a little more difficult to control with the demand of WiFi and other technologies. However, you can ensure workers are as far away as possible from routers and offices are not located adjacent to mechanical rooms. And did you know, a hard-wired system is more reliable for that super jazzed up conference room you use to impress your clients?

 

 


Collaboration

healthy-office-collaboration-teamWork spaces are opened up. Gone are the days of the private office. Collaboration is key so work spaces are designed with more comfortable groupings to encourage teamwork. This is fantastic because we all know teamwork creates success and mental stimulation. Remember, the healthiest happiest societies are those where people are more (and more often) relational. You need a minute to revitalize? No problem, lets incorporate a meditation room. 15 minutes and you are nearly as good as new. Many offices also offer seminars about sleep support, stress management, or nutrition.

 


Food

healthy-office-food-strawberriesAre there onsite food options? Perfect! But lets be sure vending machines are free and clear of unhealthy items and plenty of fruits and veggies are accessible. Maybe there is a coffee bar. We suggest offering hot tea and healthy juices as a complement to the typical coffee with cream and sugar.

 

 


Ahhhhhhhh… so many fun ways to make an office healthier. Are you trying to recruit the best talent or the next generation of workers? A more collaborative, healthier office could be a key component. And why wait? In the future this will be the norm. Work, home, play, live — the lines are getting blurry. And that is music to our ears.

Is Mold Ruining the Air Quality in Your Home or Office?

Mold Affects Indoor Air Quality

As building biologists, we take mold very seriously. The air quality of a home or office cannot be ideal if there is mold present. Just the other day in an office with PTAC units (the type of AC unit you see in hotel rooms), we asked the maintenance person to remove the cover, and…YIKES! The units had not been cleaned in quite some time and there was quite a bit of mold. Of course no one would see the mold since it was covered, but it was most definitely affecting the office air quality.

No one should have to breathe that kind of mold accumulation. If you have allergies, sinus problems, respiratory illnesses, or headaches, exposure to the mold could make you miserable. Or worse, if you are sensitive to mold, it could be causing major illness.

Why Is It Harmful to Air Quality?

Mold is highly toxic to humans. It releases mycotoxins (chemicals the mold releases to defend its territory) and mold volatile organic compounds/MVOCs (gases released by actively growing mold) so it packs a double whammy. Mold looks awful. But it’s not just sitting there looking bad — it is a living organism that is actively spreading toxins. And you are breathing them.

Where Do We Find Mold Growing?

Mold grows anywhere there is moisture: showers, front-loading washing machines, inside walls, inside HVAC systems, closets, etc. And, as a side note, if you have a pet who has ever urinated on your carpet, there is a high possibility mold is growing underneath the spot where the accident occurred.

OK, I Have Mold. Now What?

Don’t worry — it’s pretty common, but you can (and should!) do a few things to minimize your exposure and your risk.

  • Be sure to keep the moisture low in your home or office. Fix a leak immediately (mold starts growing in 24–48 hours), and clean up excess water.
  • Monitor indoor humidity. It should be between 40% and 60%, anything higher is contributing to mold growth. A properly functioning air conditioning system should be removing humidity so these levels are attained.
  • Clean it up. Safely. As for cleaning up the mold, please do not use bleach. It is highly toxic and spreads mold spores. Use these natural cleaners:
    • Tea tree oil mixed with water in a spray bottle.
    • Food grade hydrogen peroxide mixed with water in a spray bottle (this is our preference but take note — if it gets on your hands it may cause white spots but its harmless and goes away quickly)
    • Borax and water paste. Spread it on and leave overnight; then rinse in the morning.

Vital Spaces wants you to have healthy air quality in both your home and office.


Join Us for a Shaklee Reset

shaklee1On a different note, want to do a little holiday prep to ensure the season is better enjoyed? Join us for a Shaklee Reset November 7–11. A reset will help you jump start weight loss, overcome cravings, and balance & regulate your hormones. It can also realign your true appetite, boost metabolism, enhance digestion, bring radiance to eyes and skin and increases focus, clarity, and energy. Need we say more?

A simple Reset can be done with only Shaklee’s Life Shake and a multi vitamin but if you want to make it a true cleanse, these products are recommended:

Click here to order products by October 30 at and email us at angela@vitalspacesnow.com for more information and recipes as well as to be included in the Facebook support group.

Have a Happy Fall!