By Max Clarke

As the season of colds and viruses sends staff absence levels rocketing, Ambius, the world’s largest workplace enrichment and interior landscaping company, has produced its tips for keeping the workplace healthy and productive through the winter months.

Jeanette Van Roy, Managing Director of Ambius said: “It’s generally accepted that January and February are difficult months in terms of employee motivation and sickness levels. And this year is set to be particularly challenging given the economic climate. Boosting feelings of well-being and creating a healthy work environment can go a long way to improve employee engagement and in turn, productivity at a time when this is so critical for businesses.”

1. Go green! Plants in the workplace remove toxins from the air and boost employee well-being

2. Boost the comfort factor by giving staff control over their work environment — research has showed that staff with higher comfort levels are less likely to be ill

3. Encourage healthy eating plenty of fruit and veg are important to keep the immune system strong allowing your body to fight off viral infections. Instead of vitamin C supplements fresh fruits should be prioritised due to a wide range of vitamins and nutrients

4. Wash Your Hands with hot, soapy water every time you use the bathroom and before every meal. To be sure you're really washing away the potential viruses and bacteria you've come in contact with pay particular attention to your fingernails, this is a safe haven for bacteria and viruses. Provide anti-bacterial hand gel with a high alcohol content (at least 62% to be effective against virus’s) in all frequently visited places

5. Send ill staff home - they are less productive and taking this step will limit infection amongst colleagues and keep the working environment

6. Clean shared items regularly such as photocopiers, phones and door handles with sanitary wipes as virus’ can last on surfaces for hours and sometimes even days. Use a specialist provider of IT hygiene and cleaning services

7. Drink Lots of Fluids. Provide a water dispenser for employers, useful all year round. If staff are coming to back to work following time off for being ill, extra fluids will help remove any excess mucus, sharing cups is a big no-no. A Point-of-Use dispenser is a cost-effective alternative to traditional dispensers and can see a reduction of your company’s carbon footprint.

8. Encourage regular exercise. Whether regular organised activities or Corporate membership of a local gym or fitness centre exercise reduces the likelihood of staff becoming ill and also reduces stress

9. Stop smoking. The flu viruses irritate tissue as they travel through the respiratory tract. Smoking not only irritates it further but also slows the body's recovery. Offer support and incentives for joining ‘stop smoking’ initiatives

10. Provide disposable tissues. Staff are occasionally going to cough and sneeze, encourage them to do so in a hygienic way. Coughing or sneezing into a tissue then disposing of it immediately and washing hands after.



Vapours in the hot soup prevent the flow of mucus in the lungs and nasal passage. The soup provides easily absorbed nutrients and contains an amino acid called cysteine which can enhance the body’s immune system function.


A saltwater gargle can temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat by reducing swelling caused by infection. 1 teaspoon of salt per cup of water should be enough, caution is advised when gargling saltwater as it can be dangerous if swallowed.

Myth buster

Dress warmly or you will catch a cold

Fact: The only thing that can cause a cold or flu is coming into contact with a cold or flu virus

Starve a cold and feed a fever

Fact: Feed both. The body needs adequate nutrition and fluids, especially during stress, to maintain body functions. Eat moderately to maintain strength as the immune system requires energy to function properly