5 tips for staying healthy in the workplace this winter

Heading into the winter months, and with more and more Australians returning to their workplace, maintaining optimum office health and hygiene is crucial. We are already seeing alarmingly high incidences of colds, influenza, and RSV this season, with five times the number of cases of influenza reported than for the same period last year1. Sharon Bayldon, Sales Manager – Health, Hygiene & Safety at Winc, shares some helpful recommendations for staying healthy at work.

Why is it important to stay healthy in the workplace?

According to research conducted by Winc, an overwhelming number of Australian workers indicated that they would consider resigning from their workplace if health and hygiene practices did not meet their standards2.

Sharon explains that by “investing in workplace health and hygiene, organisations can not only keep their employees happy, healthy and comfortable, but also enhance job performance and efficiency while saving their organisation time and money.”

1. Practice good hand hygiene

A recent study conducted in communal kitchen areas revealed the existence of harmful bacteria and fungi on workplace kitchen items such as coffee machines, fridge door handles, and microwave buttons3.

“Areas that experience frequent usage contribute significantly to the transmission of bacteria. It is essential to maintain good hand hygiene by washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water for a duration of at least 20 to 30 seconds. Additionally, using alcohol-based hand sanitisers can effectively eliminate bacteria and help prevent the spread of germs,” suggests Sharon.

2. Keep essential items readily available on your desk

Did you know that a keyboard can harbor up to three times more bacteria than a toilet seat4?

Surfaces that are often touched should be cleansed and disinfected at least once every day. “Make sure to wipe down hard surfaces like your desk on a regular basis,” advises Sharon. Always refer to the cleaning product’s instructions and labelling to determine the required duration for effective surface disinfection.

Recent research indicated that a significant number of Australian workers desire access to health and hygiene items in their workplace. The most sought-after items include hand sanitisers, self-service items like disinfectant sprays and antibacterial wipes, as well as single-use products like gloves, paper towels, and tissues.

3. Stay active during breaks

Incorporating exercise into your daily routine can have a positive impact on your physical well-being and energy levels. “Simple activities like taking a walk during your break, opting for stairs instead of elevators, or even performing exercises while seated at your desk can make a significant difference.”

Additionally, musculoskeletal injuries, including repetitive strain injury (RSI), are among the most common health concerns for office workers5.

“To improve your posture and mitigate these issues, consider adjusting your workstation or work environment. This may involve modifying your desk height, providing an ergonomic chair, or trying an alternative keyboard or mouse that offers better support,” recommends Sharon.

4. Stay hydrated and make healthy eating choices

Inadequate hydration can result in headaches, reduced memory function, and slower response times, which can hinder your ability to perform tasks effectively. It is crucial to maintain proper hydration levels to optimise your productivity.

“Ensure you stay hydrated throughout the day by having water readily available at your desk or taking regular breaks to hydrate yourself. When feeling peckish, avoid sugary snacks and instead opt for nutritious food options such as fruits, nuts and seeds that provide sustained energy to keep you going throughout the day,” says Sharon.

5. Get your flu shot

There’s no better time than now to schedule your flu vaccine. Investing in onsite flu vaccination programs can help ease the impact of illnesses and minimise disruptions in the workplace.

“To help keep yourself, your team members and those around you safe and healthy this winter season, prioritise getting vaccinated as soon as possible,” recommends Sharon.

At Winc, we provide everything a workplace needs to work throughout winter. Speak with one of our HHS specialists for guidance on the best solutions for your organisation’s needs or browse our online selection.

References:

1Flu threatens young children with only 6 per cent of kids vaccinated, 2023 <https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-05-09/flu-threatens-vulnerable-youth/102316634>

2Winc Australia, 2022, ‘Health & Hygiene Report’, <https://winc.com.au/services/digital-resources/report-the-importance-of-hygiene-in-the-workplace-post-pandemic/>

3Champs Public Health Collaborative, 2023, ‘Public health chiefs call on workers to step up handwashing after workplace kitchen swabbing’, <https://champspublichealth.com/public-health-chiefs-call-on-workers-to-step-up-handwashing-after-workplace-kitchen-swabbing/>

4Forbes, 2015, ‘5 Gadgets With More Germs Than Your Toilet Seat’, <https://www.forbes.com/sites/reehines/2015/08/11/5-gadgets-with-more-germs-than-your-toilet-seat/?sh=6651f0e112fe>

5Better Health, 2012, ‘Work and your health’, <https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/work-and-your-health#workplace-injuries-selected-statistics>