The Healthy Workplace: Cleanliness’ Role in Productivity and Morale

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Preventing and addressing sick building syndrome and its associated effects on employee wellbeing is an investment toward better productivity. Besides making workplaces healthier and more comfortable, cleaning efforts are also good for employee morale.

Maintaining a vibrant and hygienic workplace isn’t just a matter of keeping things organized and presentable. A thoroughly clean workspace may be considerably better for employee’s health and wellbeing, improving overall productivity by reducing the number of health complaints caused by hitherto unseen and minimizing the number of absences caused by health issues both major and minor.

In addition, a clean and vibrant workspace is one that leaves a good lasting impression on employees on an everyday basis, which improves overall morale.

Sick Building Syndrome

A drive toward cleanliness is the first and most cost-effective step that companies can take to combat the effects of sick building syndrome (SBS). Thought to contribute poorly to employee health and performance, SBS is be linked to the concentration of pathogenic microorganisms, particulate matter, chemical irritants such as volatile organic compounds, and allergens within the building, which gradually affects the wellbeing of the building’s occupants.

A related issue, building-related illness, is tied to identifiable causes but may be exacerbated or contracted within the premises of the building. These are readily identified in medical literature but are often linked to unhygienic conditions. Unlike SBS, building-related illnesses are usually diagnosable and are often enough of a hazard to warrant immediate drastic action.

Both building-related illness and SBS are tied to the state of the building, which can lead to a reduction in staff efficiency and greater rates of turnover due to how the building affects the staff’s wellbeing.

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Getting to the Source

Sick building syndrome has no known cause but is generally thought to be a conflagration of factors associated with the general cleanliness of the building. A greater commitment to cleanliness and proper sanitation within buildings can help reduce the instances of SBS within the premises by eliminating many of the potential causes of irritation and poor health.

For instance, regular sweeping not only creates a tidy and aesthetically pleasing environment for visitors and employees but also ensure that dust and other associated allergens do not accumulate enough to trigger allergies on a wide scale. Employing commercial cleaning equipment can typically make short work of dust and other allergens in the workplace.

Several possible causes of sick building syndrome are associated with the building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Keeping these systems well-maintained and devoid of possible contaminants can reduce or prevent SBS-associated symptoms across the workplace by reducing employees’ exposure to airborne irritants.

Look Good, Feel Good

A clean environment does more than curtail and prevent the onset of SBS-associated symptoms within the workplace. The presence of a clean, vibrant environment has a positive effect on employee morale, which can make a subtle yet profound effect on productivity.

“New” doesn’t always mean healthy, however. Newly renovated spaces, while vibrant and clean, may need to be closed off for a time to allow the new furniture and paint to release much of their fumes without affecting the employees.

A few means of making the workplace vibrant and refreshing aesthetically also does double duty of keeping it healthy. Placing live plants in well-lit portions of the office serve a dual purpose of not only brightening up drab corners of the office but also by providing fresh air and absorbing volatile organic compounds released from furniture and carpets.

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