This year’s flu season is nothing to mess around with. Just a couple months into 2023, the CDC already estimates at least 25 million flu cases across the U.S., with 280,000 hospitalizations and 17,000 deaths. While the CDC does project flu activity to decline over these next several weeks, it’s still important to be careful and safe—for your own benefit and for the health of those around you. For those who work in an office, this is especially true.
According to the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, if office employees encounter a viral pathogen at work, they’re five times more prone to catch the infection in that same week. The average employee also needs 1–4 sick days off to recover when a flu outbreak hits. That accounts for as much as 20 percent of illness-related absences all year. However, the right precautions can reduce contagion by 85 percent, the research continues, so here’s how to maintain a safe, healthy office environment this flu season.
Use a Commercial Deep Cleaning Service
From copy machines and keyboards to staff restrooms and kitchens, your office is full of high-touch surfaces. This, combined with the close proximity between coworkers, can turn the whole space into a veritable petri dish for germs to spread. The solution: invest in a commercial deep cleaning service that’ll disinfect and sanitize your office from top to bottom. These professional technicians use CDC-certified cleaners to eliminate odors, bacteria, toxins and viral pathogens. They sterilize all surfaces, floors, equipment, furniture, and even HVAC units to purify the air. It’s one of the most effective measures you can take to ensure a safe workplace.
Place Sanitizing Products in Easy Reach
How often do you cover a sneeze or cough with your hands, but forget to wash them? Now think about how often you (or a coworker) does this, then immediately touches a surface or piece of machinery. Sure, it can be an unintentional, automatic reflex, but as COVID taught us, it’s also a surefire method to pass germs. Fortunately, there’s a simple and efficient way to discourage this in the office—to make sanitizing products more accessible. When employees have hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and similar items right at their desks or within easy reach, this will encourage them to maintain a sterile workstation, which contributes to office cleanliness.
Host a Mobile Flu Vaccination Clinic Onsite
The CDC strongly recommends that all adults who can receive a flu shot take this precaution. But certain barriers could prevent someone on your team from accessing the vaccine. First, there’s an issue of cost—without insurance, a high-dose flu shot can cost as much as $85. Then, you also have to factor in the time commitment. Not everyone has extra margin in their schedules to locate a pharmacy offering the vaccine, let alone find the time to head over there. So remove those barriers for employees and make the entire process feel more convenient by hosting a mobile vaccination clinic at the office. Use this guide to learn more.
Allow Remote or Hybrid Work if Possible.
Once someone contracts the flu, they will be contagious for the first 3–5 days, so it’s vital for employees who feel sick to remain home until those symptoms are longer transmittable. This should be a no-brainer, but in some cases, employees feel like they can’t afford to take that much time off. Either they do not want to fall behind on projects, or they fear retaliation from a supervisor. If a person on your team is afraid to prioritize their health (and the safety of their coworkers), that’s a problem—but you can resolve it. Offer flexible remote work options and evaluate your current sick leave policies to ensure they’re fair and practical.
Flu Season Is Rampant—Make Sure Your Office Is Safe
A healthy work environment is more efficient, productive and enjoyable for the whole team. But the impacts of flu season can be dangerous—now is not the time to skimp on safety measures. No one should have to risk exposure to illness on the job, so make sure your office is as clean and germ-free as possible. Everyone will benefit, including you!