What does environmental wellness have to do with where you work?

Well if you consider that almost half of your waking hours are spent in the workplace then the environment you work in should certainly be a significant consideration when examining your overall environmental wellness.  What surrounds you every day can most certainly affect your physical health and your mental health.

Sometimes it’s the big things—like clean air, water, adequate light, and not too much noise.

I’m old enough to remember the times when people smoked in the workplace…or smoked everywhere.  I know many of you remember smoking sections in restaurants, but do you remember when you had the imaginary line on planes where everyone behind that line (often a tag on the top of the seat) was allowed to smoke?  It was the worst if you got your seat assignment late and you were seated in that last non-smoking row—the person seated behind you was blowing smoke in your direction for the duration of the flight.  Recycling is also a thing of my lifetime.  Back in the day, there was little regard for throwing trash out the windows of cars on a trip.  The highways were strewn with thrown away cans, bottles, and papers until the late 1950s when states started to impose fines for littering as part of the Keep America Beautiful campaign.  And now we don’t use asbestos or lead paints, and we test our air for CO2 and Radon.  I must admit I love the filtered water out of the cooler all day and the fact that we don’t use those disposable plastic bottles.

Sometimes it’s the little things- the opportunity to take strategic renewal during the day, to get outside for some fresh air and away from the computer screen, plant or tend a garden with your colleagues and then have the satisfaction of having that vegetable for lunch—perhaps out at the picnic table—or volunteering for a good cause or having a sit/stand desk for your use or bikes to take out on the nearby rail trail.  Even though we are tethered to technology and usually very sedentary (except when traveling) with the work we do, we can still try to make the most of our environment and create a space and a routine that fosters wellness.  It’s not that we just want to see you when you come up to use the water cooler or to get some fresh ground coffee, it’s actually good for you to be up and moving around in the office.  And what more pleasing space to have some healthy fruit snacks and socialize for a minute than our beautiful newly renovated kitchens?  They are bright and clean and organized and I smile whenever I go in them.

PRA Kitchen

PRA Kitchen

PRA received Silver-Level Recognition from the American Heart Association this year.  And did I mention that we were also chosen as the No. 1 Small Employer in the Capital District?  Since that designation is based largely on a review of our workplace and anonymous surveys with employees…that must go a long way to our claim that PRA strives for environmental wellness.  But there are still ways that you can enhance your environment at work, and if you think of ideas that benefit all, please let us know.

One more thing—this Friday is PRA’s annual dedicated cleanup day.  Decluttering (paper and electronic) is another way to improve your environment.  Visual “noise” increases stress.  You may think that we just want to reduce storage space and tidy up the office, but while that is partially true it is also true that you’ll feel better after you organize and archive all those materials.  Leaving your desk neat at the end of the day and especially at the end of the week allows you to do a mental check on what is done and what still remains on your plate…then you can relax and leave work at the office.

Happy New Year!