As we now spend more time on average indoors than outdoors it is important to have a healthy work environment in terms of air quality. One survey found an average person in the UK spends just 8% of time outside on a week day. Indoor air pollution is caused by a combination of external pollutants, like traffic and industrial emissions, and internal sources, including paints, cleaning products and plastic furniture. These sources of pollution can cause numerous health issues including eye, skin and nose irritation, fatigue, headaches, and nausea. When workers experience these symptoms over a prolonged period due to the work environment, this is called ‘sick building syndrome’.
It is possible to reduce sources of Volatile Organic Compounds through simple actions such as avoiding chemical cleaning products, using natural furniture, and maintaining adequate air flow (i.e. by opening windows and doors). One of the most effective methods of reducing indoor air pollution is by having plants in the office. This webinar ‘The Air We Breathe’ explains this in more detail and provides examples of the most effective plants to grow. Having plants in the office can also improve worker productivity and well-being.
Greening Your Workplace
You don’t have to stop at plants inside your building. Creating green spaces around your office can also improve workers’ health, provide opportunities for colleagues to meet and mix informally and provide a welcoming environment for visitors. Features like pollinator friendly plants, ponds, and trees deliver numerous benefits to the local environment including improving air quality, reducing flooding risks, and providing habitats and food for wildlife. You’ll be surprised how much you can achieve – even in a small space.
This webinar on ‘Workplace Growing’, provided by Social Farms and Gardens, details the benefits of growing in the workplace and the practicalities of creating and maintaining green spaces. If you need resources to get started, you can access trees from the Woodland Trust, wildflowers from Grow Wild, and commission bespoke woodwork (like benches and planters) from Vision 21 social enterprise.
Help your staff to volunteer
Allowing time for or actively encouraging your staff to take part in volunteering activities can help boost mental and physical health, increase productivity, and improve your social image. There are hundreds of volunteering opportunities to choose from on the Volunteering Wales website.