My Take on Sick Building Syndrome

Sick building syndrome was a phrase I first heard around 20 years ago. I was very skeptical of this notion that the mere environment within an office can make someone sick or fatigued. It seemed like a fanciful idea given that an office is hardly a coalmine or a farmer's field. You're inside away from the elements, and you're sitting in a chair with a cup of coffee - what kind of snowflake would get ill from that?!I know different now though - even if it took me many years to find out for myself just how debilitating a bad environment can be. The main symptom I endured was chronic fatigue. What caused it? A number of things:-

  • Bright lighting
  • a warm room temperature
  • lack of natural light
  • terrible ergonomics causing me back and neck ache (which contributed to my fatigue)
  • nowhere to physically rest
  • computer screens had no brightness control
How do I know that the above contributed significantly to my chronic fatigue? Simple - my fatigue disappeared the moment I started working from home. I researched "sick building syndrome" and many other people experienced the same symptoms I had and their only cure was to remove each and every one of the contributing environmental factors to restore their energy levels back to what they used to be. What can be done? If you're a business owner, consider :-

  • allowing your workers to telecommute at least one or two days a week. This allows them to create their own work environment at home.
  • ventilate your office space with fresh air - if fresh air is available! Fresh air invigorates. Air-conditioning units do help circulate air, so consider installing one of those - they can be used as heaters too. Go easy on the room temperature - a room that's too warm is soporific
  • Use more natural light if at all possible. If that's not possible, then go for more localised spot lights than strip-lighting
  • ensure all screens your employees use are at the eye level of the user - raise screens up using props to achieve this
  • introduce a "relaxation room" where your employees can go to lie down, close their eyes and rest - ultimately that's very refreshing

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