October 1, 2014

Small Business Advice:

Work healthy in a clean and green work space

Jerry Osteryoung | 10/26/2012

Whether you have a one-person office or a hundred-person office, maintaining a clean work environment is important for so many different reasons — the health of your workforce and orderly presentation are just a couple of them.

Honestly, until about five years ago, I had no idea that cleaning products had any effect on people or the environment. I am not an avid environmentalist, but I do believe that we have a responsibility to leave the world in at least as good a shape as we found it. In addition, I feel that when environmental concerns impact worker productivity, we all need to start paying attention.

According to a report by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory published in the Indoor Air Quality Scientific Findings Resource Bank, productivity may increase as much as 10 percent simply by improving air quality. This is not a small number, especially considering we spend 90 percent of our time indoors.

As you can probably imagine, cleaning agents are the No. 1 influence on our indoor air quality. Normal cleaning products emit gases called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and odors that can cause or worsen breathing problems, skin allergies and other health concerns. The EPA provides vast amounts of information on the potentially harmful effects of various cleaning products on their website at epa.gov/iaq/pubs/occupgd.html.

It used to be that green cleaning products and services were cost prohibitive, but they are much more affordable now. That said, each business should consider how improving the air quality in its office by using green products can affect staff productivity.

Finding quality green cleaning products can be a challenge because so many claim to be “green.” Environmental Working Group produces a Guide to Healthy Cleaning, in which they evaluate all the different products’ claims and score them in terms of how green they really are. There are other groups out there that do the same type of thing, and we are, undoubtedly, going to see more of them as the importance of air quality in the workplace increases.

If you decide to hire a professional cleaning firm, you will need to find out exactly what green chemicals they claim to use and verify that they are actually using them. Because this really is something that affects your bottom line, you will have to monitor things to ensure that the right chemicals are being used.

Now go out and make sure you are maintaining the best possible work environment for your staff by ensuring the proper green supplies are being used. Not only is this the right thing to do for the health of your employees and our environment, it will also contribute to the profitability of your company.

You can do this!

Other small business advice columns from Dr. Osteryoung are here. Note: Articles older than 30 days require registration (it's quick and free).

Jerry Osteryoung is a consultant to businesses - he has directly assisted over 3,000 firms. He is the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship (Emeritus) and Professor of Finance (Emeritus) at Florida State University. He was the founding Executive Director of The Jim Moran Institute and served in that position from 1995 through 2008. His newest book co-authored with Tim O'Brien, "If You Have Employees, You Really Need This Book," is an Amazon.com bestseller. He can be reached by e-mail at jerry.osteryoung@gmail.com.

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