Maintaining Your Health at Work - Wherever Work Is
Better Health and Productivity Through Air Quality
Our modern work arrangements are often not purely in one place. We're constantly on the go, working from home (and so much more), rushing to make meetings on-site with colleagues, and commuting through (in some cases) multiple hours of traffic and transit time to make it back home, only to do it all again the next day.
Quite a schedule you have there. We think you owe it to yourself to take 5 minutes, take a breather and walk through your day to really think about what pollutants, allergens and germs you're exposed to throughout that day.
What does your air quality throughout the day look like? How can you improve the quality of the air you breathe no matter where you find yourself working (and between working)? And of course, how can that lead to better health and productivity overall?
Working from (and living at) Home
Whether you keep your living space as living-only or use some of it for work, clean air at home is the first stop to lessening the number of sick days we need to take. We often spend the majority of our time at home, which can often have more pet dander, dust and other particles in the air that accumulate as time goes by. Maintaining a cleaning schedule to regularly dust, vacuum and wipe down hard and soft surfaces in our homes can reduce the particles that are pushed around the home from normal air flow.
Installing and maintaining the right air filter for your home's heating or air conditioning system is a crucial step for keeping the unit itself running at optimal efficiency as well as yourself. If you or your family members suffer from seasonal or pet allergies, we advise choosing a filter with a high enough filtration level to remove pet dander and pollen from the air. Loved ones with asthma or other breathing conditions? We recommend MERV13 for removing bacteria and viruses from the air.
It is highly recommended to regularly replace the air filter to your air system. Standard air filters should be replaced every 60-90 days, while some larger filters for whole house systems can be replaced once up to every 6 months. Regularly replacing the air filter ensures high airflow through the air handler and duct system of your home, reduces the chance of mold/mildew growth in your ducts, and delivers clean air throughout your home.
Wanting to focus on your home office area? Consider a room air purifier with a high filtration level of HEPA filter. Using your ceiling fan to increase air circulation can further keep dust accumulation down. Lastly, (if you have one) SHUT THE DOOR. Keeping the outside out of the room to begin with can help maintain your focus space's quiet atmosphere as well as its air quality.
On the Way to the Office
Your bag is packed, kids are fed breakfast and on the way to school. Getting to the office on-time is within reach, and protecting your health on the go is simple.
On Foot/Public Transit
COVID taught us to be mindful of how disease spreads through the air and on surfaces. These simple steps can still be used effectively to reduce our chances of getting sick while in public and reduce the pollutants we breathe in on the way to the office.
Wearing a mask when air quality is bad or in close-quarters with subways, buses and other public transit can help reduce the amount of pollutants and germs that we breathe in. Avoiding touching the face and mouth and washing your hands upon getting to work can greatly reduce the spread of germs that you introduce to yourself and your coworkers.
In The Car/In The Air
If you drive to work regularly, be sure to keep your vehicle's cabin air filter regularly checked and replaced to reduce the amount of smog and pollen that you encounter in the driver's seat. Keeping your windows up in bad air quality conditions such as smog or in dense traffic can help keep out pollutants and carbon monoxide.
If you're flying, consider wearing a mask while on the plane to limit your chance of catching a virus while in the air. Before you fly, look for TSA approved sanitizers for wiping hands and surfaces down before eating or touching your face.
You made it - now let's get some work done. Here's how we can collaborate efficiently and with air quality and health in mind.
Group Work Situations
We build our best ideas and share perspective in-person with groups. The engagement of in-person work is arguably second to none.
Keeping work groups that happen in closed rooms and areas limited helps to reduce the spread of viruses during cold and flu season. For these scenarios, suggesting and furnishing these meeting spaces with room air purifiers can help reduce the spread even further. Not feeling well? Wearing a mask and/or going home to continue virtually may be the best option for being a part of the team (and being a team player).
Maintaining the HVAC System and its filter changing for the building keeps common areas well ventilated with clean air. Choosing higher level filters such as MERV 13 can help keep coworkers with allergies and health conditions (and family members at home) healthier, happier more engaged. Coughing and sneezing can be disruptive to focus for everyone around the source.
Now that your direction is clear and you're ready to deliver, let's sit back at your desk. If there's anything that you've brought back with you from your meetings, lunch break or someone else's office, it's a good idea to wash/sanitize your hands and the item(s) before setting them on your clean desk. If you share this workspace, it may be worth the extra few seconds to wipe down common keyboards, mice, pens or other flat surfaces often touched by coworkers. Not only does this look out for your health, but also the health of the people around you.
If you work in an open office setting that is crowded and loud, consider looping a facemask on before getting to the task at hand. Sitting in a space for multiple hours at a time can help us focus, but can also lead to exposure to the same germs and particles.
Coffee Break Time!
Now that the toughest part of the day is over, we can get a quick break in to get some coffee, stretch our legs, or use the restroom before finishing the day. Consider wearing your mask while doing this to limit spreading germs inside or with bad air quality outside. Maintaining a friendly but comfortable personal space from your coworkers and other patrons, and washing your hands before returning to work all contribute to a healthier workspace.
Keeping clean air quality throughout the workday is possible through common-sense steps we can all take, in addition to regularly serviced air systems in the places we work and live. Through these steps we can live and work happier and more productive.