LONDON—With the summer vacation season officially ending, Brits are buckling down at work. But Allergy UK warning that the office could actually be bad for our health. Could virtual offices be a better choice for people with allergies?
Allergy UK estimates that at least 5.7 million people could be allergic to their workplace—5.7 million people. Call it “work fever.” From nasal problems, eye conditions, dry throats, breathing difficulties, lethargy, headaches and skin irritations, 95 percent of participants in Allergy UK’s survey suffer from allergies. And 27 percent said their office environment makes their symptoms worse.
Specifically, 62 percent of respondents had experienced itchy or watery eyes, and 27 percent breathing difficulties over the last year in their office. And overall, more than half of the group surveyed had experienced an allergic reaction while at work.
“The results are of concern for Allergy UK because it is difficult for individuals to exercise the same control over their workplace as they would do at home,” says Maureen Jenkins, director of Clinical Services at Allergy UK. “Management of allergies becomes increasingly difficult when in communal spaces, so it’s not surprising that a great deal of allergy sufferers have experienced a reaction at work.”
And here’s where the virtual office can help. As Jenkins reported, it’s more difficult to maintain control over an office environment that’s not solely yours. If you work from a virtual office, you can make sure your space is well ventilated. When you work from a virtual office you can take responsibility for your carpets, which can harbor dust mites and other allergens, staying clean.
Also, when you work from a virtual office you can keep your shelves dusted. At work, if you remove books from a shelf you can release dust into the atmosphere, which can bother allergies. And then there’s plants. Plants can carry mold that release spores and cause allergic reactions. You can avoid that in a virtual office.
According to the study, even the people surrounding us in the workplace can trigger a reaction. Thirty-four percent of respondents had a pet allergy; and could react to allergens (pet dander) brought in on people’s clothes, especially cat allergen. And 61 percent of the office workers questioned sat within a meter of someone else, making the risk even greater. When you work in an office, you can fly solo.