How fast do germs spread?
Scientists from the University of Arizona have recently conducted an experiment, in which they showed how easily germs spread in the office. Firstly, 80 employed had a drop of a liquid applied on their hand within the experiment – then the majority of them received clean water, and only one employee had particles, which imitate germs responsible for the most often infections, applied. Within few hours, because of the one “infected” person, “germs’ spread in the half of common areas.
Germs, which are being transferred in a company, increase the risk of falling ill among employees. It entails considerable financial losses in enterprises. According to last-year Well-Being Index, prepared by Gallup-Healthways, annual losses of companies due to the absence of employees totaled 84 billion dollars in America. In Poland, in turn, ZUS informs that in the first half of 2014 – 12,7 per cent of insured people more were on a sick leave of absence than in the same period in 2012.
It is still being practiced to appear in the office during the illness – the survey conducted by Kimberley-Clark Professional says about 60 per cent of employees. This phenomenon has even its own name – presenteeism. However, organizations attach more importance to care about team’s well-being. According to Buck Consultants at Xerox report, the fact of creating a health culture in work constitutes one of the priorities for nearly 4 on 5 employers, and over two thirds of examined people claim that wellness programmes have a great of even very great influence on obtaining and maintaining employees in the company.
Open space favors illnesses
The way in which the office is arranged has also an impact on the spread of various kinds of microorganisms. The survey conducted by the Stockholm University among 2 thousand of employees showed that definitely greater absence is characteristic of people who work in areas of open space type.
In modern offices more and more stress is laid on arrangement of common areas, such as relax zones or meeting halls. Moreover, some companies totally resign from assigned workplaces for a concrete person. Counteracting the phenomenon of coming to work during the illness, which resides within HR department in great measure, definitely reduces the spreading of germs in the office. On the other hand, there are some guests and different people from the outside who come to the office and employers often do not realize that they may infect others. Therefore, it is also worth taking care about well-matched office’s fittings – comments Zuzanna Mikołajczyk, member of the board, chairman in Mikomax Smart Office. Mikomax Smart Office, which is specialized in optimization of office space, realized arrangement projects for i.a. EY, Qatar Airways or National Bank of Poland.
Currently, not only doctors, but also engineers are engaged in the fight with microorganisms and their harmful effect on human health. The novelty is also furniture made from nanomaterials which form antibacterial and bacteriostatic surfaces. Table tops developed by Mikomax Smart Office are also one of the solutions which support the care of employee’s health. The visible connection with lateral board will be eliminated. Table tops of office furniture will constitute an uniform, deprived of connections or crannies surface, thanks to which the risk of spreading microorganisms will be reduced. Mikomax Smart Office is going to apply a new solution not only to the production of working places, but also furniture in common areas (reception, meeting halls), which are especially exposed to spread of germs. Furniture which uses this technology is going to appear on the market with the beginning of the following year.
Something what is essential – light and air
Taking care of a well-being of the office’s users is also noticeable in a macro scale – on the level of the whole building, since the access to the sunlight or the quality of air have an influence on employee’s health.
According to researches, the proper amount of a daylight in the building allows to decrease the number of absences among employees even by 3 days in a year. The proper quality of air, in turn, may result in over 50 per cent lower number of dismissals due to allergy, asthma or discomfort. Therefore, we apply a number of innovative as well as green solutions, thanks to which we may create healthy and friendly environment to work. In our offices there are at least 30 per cent more fresh air in comparison to current norms and employees may benefit from a natural light on the minimum 75 per cent of areas – says Arkadiusz Rudzki, chairman for lease and management of the building’s value in Skanska Property Poland.
The creation of an eco-friendly work environment is in the area of present Facility Managers’ activities. The taking care of a well-matched fittings of an office and cooperation with HR departments may lead to a significant improvement in the area of developing health culture in a company.