As members of business and industrial societies – we spend fair share of our time inside offices or our workplaces. These can be highly variable depending on the stream or sphere of business activity we are engaged in.
Hospitals and labs would have a different setup from a small or medium business located inside a multi-tent property. Same goes for a 1000+ personnel office space from a large factory floor – both the sets present their own challenges.
So how does one maintain a semblance of health and wellness driven lifestyle?
First, watch your back – literally. Posture and back related workplace injuries are on a rise – due to the often ergonomically constrained and repetitive nature of our work. Invest in ergonomically sound seating and office space arrangement. On factory floors, automation is coming to the rescue via robot-assisted technologies that can negate injuries. Focus on ergonomics remains primary for all workplaces. Better workstations and access to small exercise equipment allows these repetitive keystroke hitting jobs to bust the stress inflicted on soft tissue and tendons.
Second, observe your sitting pattern. Too much inactivity and slouched shoulders on furniture – the office-based couch potato has a significant downside. Poor blood circulation, oxygenation and lower breathing rate means that immediately after consuming meals, inactivity can trigger wider consequences like weight increase. Another crucial factor is lack of sunlight and associated vitamin deficiencies. These lead to a significant downside which directly affects the productivity and number of sick days taken off work.
Third, ventilation and the air we breathe regulates our metabolism, oxygenates our vital organs and helps us to do what we do best – our jobs. However, poor maintenance, unclean ventilation channels and improper hygiene practices can severely affect the health of individuals through the phenomenon called Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). Exhaust ventilation-based cooling is liable to be affected the most, as their cleanliness and hygiene can often be overlooked. Rather than controlling temperature, it becomes the largest source of pathogens and fungi to be circulated across offices.
Fourth, differential illumination is another major cause for people to experience altered sleep patterns, especially when they work in rotating shift routines. White light possesses different spectrums combining to appear what looks like white. Similarly, screens and mobile phones also relay light that have shown to disrupt melatonin. This means that better support and illumination mechanisms for night shift workers is advised. Bright lights from above, screen illumination directly on eyes and natural light from other sources are all harmful if not balanced. This is however, something that needs to be planned at the build-stage of a workplace.
Fifth, mark the flu season with preparation and compassion. People should avoid attending office when under the influence of flu. As flu is mainly associated with viruses, there is no antibiotic for it. All we can do is make it worse – we setup someone else with the susceptibility to contract the flu virus. This means it’s better to take a day-off than “weather the storm”. It also means that workplaces can take better care of curbing workplace-associated infection – semi-annual fumigation is a good remedy to take care of most infectious agents. Dust filters and vacuuming can take care of allergens – mostly, though not completely.
But at the same time, do remember that human immunity works on the basis of exposure – which means, every once in a while, the body contracts infection (manageable ones, for serious ailments in general, please refer to a physician) and tries to fight it off. In case of common cold, that is the way it should be, lots of liquid and rest instead of gulping down different colours of antibiotics.