One day all is fine, the next day HR Darren has a cold and, before you can say 'hot lemon', 50 per cent of the workforce are sniffling their way through the week and subsequently productivity is down. And, if it's not a cold, it's headaches, nausea, ear infections, runny noses... the list is endless.
But come Friday night, that same workforce is out painting the town red. All symptoms have disappeared... at least until Monday morning.
Sick Building Syndrome, according to the NHS, affects mainly office workers in modern buildings with air conditioning units and especially those who regularly use computers or other display screen equipment. Low humidity, airborne germs in the ventilation shaft and open plan offices can all contribute. So, without redesigning the entire office building, how can employers ensure that employees are healthy and happy during the working week?
Aromatherapy, the ancient science of using essential oils to combat and prevent infection and disease, has had a renaissance over the past 20 years. Whereas most users enjoy the relaxing or stimulative properties of popular, cheap oils such as Lavender angustifolia, there are far wider uses. Many essential oils, readily available on the high street, contain beneficial chemical compounds such as eugenols, eucalpytols and terpineols which can fight airborne germs and boost the immune system, contributing towards a germ-free working environment and increasing productivity.
But, in order to use them wisely and safely, there are some key guidelines to take into consideration:
1. Use natural products: no synthetics. No parabens. Pure oils, extracted from distillation or compression, can be sourced relatively cheaply and are widely available in stores and online.
2. Be very careful if any of the workforce is pregnant, epileptic, asthmatic or suffers from any heart complaints. Some oils are very powerful and can be detrimental to these groups. Oils with contraindications or warnings are marked in the list below with a *.
3. Use the oils safely: an Aromastream or a similar product is the best bet. Two or three drops of the oil are placed onto the pad and then distributed slowly, without the need of a naked flame or heat.
Finally, select the best oils:
• Airborne germs: Eucalyptus globulis*, Tea Tree, Ravensara, Clove* or Eucalyptus radiata.
• Fatigue: Rosemary*, Lemon, Sweet Orange or Black Pepper*.
• Nausea: Spearmint, Ginger or Peppermint*.
So next time HR Darren sneezes, be sure to break out the oils.