Computer keyboard with Christmas tree key

Winter Health in the Workplace

No one wants to be ill over Christmas, and facilities managers certainly don’t want employee absenteeism numbers to increase, so implementing a few simple changes could help to reduce sickness and stress.

Winter brings some particular challenges to workplaces. The lack of daylight, the difference in temperature between outside and inside and the lack of an opportunity to enjoy a lunch-time walk due to bad weather, can all lead to feelings of ill-health and symptoms often associated with Sick Building Syndrome.

There is a huge body of literature showing that complaints associated with symptoms of sick-building syndrome are reduced, often dramatically, when interior plants are brought into buildings. Such effects were initially thought to be due to the physical characteristics of plants, such as their ability to remove pollutants and help regulate temperature and humidity – and these do occur, but not to the extent that you may instinctively feel. The real (and measurable) benefits appear to be psychological, and to be as a result of a complex interaction of emotions ranging from a sense of being valued (because someone has cared enough to do something nice to your workplace), to an almost instinctive need to reconnect with nature.

Any manager with a responsibility for the health of the people in their buildings can make a positive difference, with the added bonus of not breaking the bank or taking up too much time and effort. Creating a healthy and nature-connected working environment will pay dividends in terms of well-being, productivity and business effectiveness, both during this festive period but also in the longer term. As people feel their income squeezed and cost of living increase, these small gestures can be an inexpensive and extremely effective way of keeping your staff happy.

Make a conscious effort this Christmas with your office decorations and allow your employees to express themselves – you may be surprised at the effect a Christmas tree (or other seasonal plants) and personalised décor has on your office festive spirit this year.

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