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How to Protect Your Health in the Office

Office cleanliness and worker health protections are more important than ever these days. Many offices have since reopened in either full or limited capacities since closing at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many more continue to prompt employees to return in person. Whether you're set to return to your workplace in the future or are already back in person, there are several things you can do to protect your health in the office and help your workplace get back to normal faster:

Keep Cleaning Supplies at Your Desk

A clean work environment is essential to both physical health and mental health. Studies show that around 72% of employees feel less productive in offices where cleanliness is not up to par. So, while transmissible illnesses should be reason enough for you to keep your workspace clean, being clear-headed and more ready to tackle the day's tasks is always a plus.

Keeping your own set of cleaning supplies right there at your desk will help. Make sure cleaning products are anti-viral and antibacterial, as only these will be effective in killing dangerous germs.

Set Cleaning Timers

Even when cleaning feels like it's become a habit, it can be difficult to remember to clean as frequently as you should. It can be especially challenging to remember in an office setting when work and a busy schedule can get in the way. To help yourself remember to clean, try setting phone or laptop reminders. Ideally, you should be giving your work area a quick wipe down when you first get in, after eating or bringing in any other items from elsewhere, and right before you leave.

When you do clean, be thorough. Office desks have been shown to be even more germ-infested than the average toilet. There are up to 25,000 germs per square inch on the average office workstation, including highly-used surfaces like your computer keyboard and mouse, your phone, and even your chair. Because of this, you may want to dedicate more time for a deeper clean at least a couple of times a month.

Use an Air Purifier

Air purifiers are not enough to keep you protected from the COVID-19 virus. However, the EPA states that when used properly, air purifiers can indeed be a part of your COVID health-protection plan. Most effective in small spaces, these air filtration devices reduce the number of airborne contaminants (including viruses) circulating around you. Try convincing your employer to put in air purifiers all around the office for a more thorough effect.

Stay Home When You Need To

It should go without saying, but don't go into the office if you're sick (with anything) or are showing symptoms. While the exact rules vary by state, it's a good idea to wait two weeks after a positive result to ensure you are no longer contagious. Even if you're not showing any symptoms and/or feel fine, you should stay home if you've been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID or another easily transmissible illness (like the flu). Wait for a negative test result to return.

Review Company Policies

While you're taking everyday steps to protect your health, now's a great time to look at your health insurance policy and make sure it's up-to-date. If you are enrolled in your company's health insurance plan or other benefits, it's also a good time to look at what policies may be in place for taking time off work and going to get vaccines. If you're like the 44 million American citizens (about 15% of the population) who are enrolled in Medicare and your company doesn't offer insurance, that's all the more reason to check up on these things.

If your company currently does not have any in-office COVID policies in place, then it may be time to share your concerns about health with your boss. Regular cleaning, distancing, and ensuring employees who are sick stay home will go a long way in helping to prevent virus spread. When everyone is engaging in good health practices, the entire office will be better off.

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