5 Ways to Make Your Office Healthier

Let’s face it: offices aren’t health clubs. We spend eight-plus hours a day crouched over a keyboard, swilling coffee and eating high-fructose corn syrup in hopes of staving off the lethargy only fluorescent lights and corporate art can induce. It’s no wonder that many of us spend flu season fighting off the same bug over and over again, or that our yearly physicals are less glowing than the annual report. What’s a health-minded manager to do? The good news is that you can make your office a healthier place, with a few small changes.

1. Offer Standing Desks

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The news is full of horrifying studies about the long-term effects of sitting all day long. As a result, many companies are swapping out their old office furniture for standing or treadmill desks, to mitigate the risks. As this article points out, this would put your workers in such august company as Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Jefferson. Plus, it’s supposed to be great for energy levels.

2. Decorate With Air-Cleaning Plants

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It’s always nice to have a bit of greenery in the office, but some plants can actually help clean the air as well. Plants like Goldon Pothos, Peace Lily, and Snake Plant have been found to cleanse the air of toxins like benzene and formaldehyde.

3. Light That Mimics the Sun

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Studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D can lead to everything from increased cardiovascular disease to impaired cognitive abilities — neither of which is going to help your team hit its goals. You can’t force everyone on your team to start eating tons of fish or to take vitamins, but you can help them create vitamin D the old-fashioned way, with help from sun-mimicking lights. Full spectrum lights can help prevent illnesses associated with vitamin deficiency, as well as cheering up your staff during the long, dark, winter months.

4. Offer Healthy Snacks

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Sure, juice is more expensive than soda, and it’s hard to put carrot sticks in a vending machine. But if you can offer a few healthy alternatives to the fat- and salt-laden fare most offices have on hand, you’ll have happier, healthier employees — and lower health care costs. Offer green tea as well as coffee, and stock your vending machine with trail mix and instant oatmeal, as well as the usual chips, cookies, and bright-orange treats.

5. Encourage Cleanliness

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Doorknobs and elevator buttons are dirtier, generally speaking, than toilet seats, and yet most of us don’t think twice about pushing a button or palming a handle. Have the cleaning crew go over these areas with disinfectant wipes on a daily basis, and offer cleaning materials to your staff, so that they can keep their desk phones, keyboards, and work spaces clean and free from germs.

Images: ashkyd/Flickr, KLPA/Flickr, James Bowe/Flickr, havankevin/Flickr, Rae Allen/Flickr

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