Office Health: A Facility Manager’s Problem?

Oct. 23, 2013
Facility managers are split – 43% believe they are responsible for the health of building occupants, while 40% say it’s up to the workers themselves.

In 2013, 90% of office workers came to work sick, according to a survey conducted by Staples.

Whose responsibility is it to keep workers healthy this flu season? The survey shows that facility managers are split – 43% believe they are responsible for the health of building occupants, while 40% say it’s up to the workers themselves. When asked how to best prevent occupant illness, FMs identified preventive measures including washing hands and cleaning desks regularly. Despite this, less than 50% of FMs ensured that critical supplies were ordered to help prevent the spread of germs in the office, such as cleaning and disinfecting chemicals.

The survey also found that while 76% of workers correctly identified the break room as the dirtiest place in the office, only 7% of FMs knew that was the case.

FMs can work with business heads to decrease the spread of illness. Staples recommends these easy steps to help maintain a healthier work environment:

  • Provide appropriate supplies: Employers can help their employees stay healthy throughout flu season by providing the necessary materials. The top three products respondents indicated they would like their employers to provide are hand sanitizer in common areas (47%), hand sanitizing wipes on every desk (42%), and touch free restroom features (39%).
  • Offer/encourage a telecommuting program: 21% of respondents said they come into work sick because they don’t think they could do their work from home. One way to help address employees coming into the office when sick would be to consider implementing a telecommuting program – or encourage the use of an existing program. Of the respondents whose company offers a telecommuting option, more than 50% felt inclined to telecommute to avoid sickness during flu season.
  • Log off: While employees admit to coming to work when sick because they don’t want to fall behind on their work, survey results show that productivity drops to under 60% of norm when sick. In order to maintain a productive workplace, employers should encourage their employees to take the necessary time to recover when they contract the flu, to protect not only themselves but other workers.

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