How is the Water at your Work? Why Workplace Water Quality Matters
To say that every office environment is unique would be an understatement. While your office doesn’t need to have a Dwight Shrute or even worse, a Bill Lumberg, you may have to put up with some difficult characters at your work.
If the worst element of your office environment is a zany co-worker, then you’re in luck. Many Americans across the country have to deal with office environments that range from uncomfortable to unsafe. There are many documented health issues associated with working in an office.
Even more important than a lack of ergonomic equipment, a tiresome co-worker or loud desk eater, is a water quality problem at your office. Issues can range from a lack of water availability to a water quality problem, and nameless issues in between.
Access to quality drinking water in the office environment is an extremely important, and often an overlooked issue. If you are looking for ways to help improve the quality or availability of clean, drinking water in your office, then we’re here to help!
How Hydration Affects Workers and Productivity
To say that productivity in the workplace is important would be a massive understatement. Simply put, when employees feel good, performance increases. It’s pretty simple science!
Staying hydrated at work may not sound like an important factor that can contribute to a company’s overall productivity, but the science behind the physiological response to dehydration should make any manager or human resources person pay attention.
In many offices across America, access to safe drinking water is an issue. There is no shortage of scientific reasons why drinking water is important, and often the problems can’t be solved by talking with human resources.
Availability of Clean Water
In many offices, the water issues start with a lack of access to a water source. Perhaps your office doesn’t have water, or access to the drinking station is on another floor. As you can imagine, there are many scenarios where access to the water source is a physical problem.
Quality of Drinking Water
For many aging buildings, drinkable water sources are becoming problematic. Perhaps you have access to a water source, but maybe it’s not quite what you would want to drink on a regular basis. That can mean the sink is old and disgusting, but perhaps the plumbing has issues from lead pipes to untreated water sources.
Both of these situations can create office environments where employees or workers are prone to dehydration, costing a lot more than just time and money. Ensuring that everyone has access to clean drinking water in the office is extremely important. By understanding the associated risks, one can understand the value of investing in clean water for everyone in the company.
How Important is it Really?
So, what’s the big deal with drinking water? Is it really that important? It’s estimated that 1% of dehydration can reduce employee productivity by as much as 12%. Sadly, a high percentage of working Americans get dehydrated on a daily basis, negatively impacting productivity.
Access to clean water is an integral part of life. In fact, water is not only vital to life but a majority of the human body. It has been estimated that about 60% of the human body is water.
The brain controls most activities in the body, is made up of about 80% of water.
To ensure that employees are working at their best, the Institute of Medicine recommends drinking as much as 13 cups of water daily to stay hydrated.
Dehydration can affect employees in many ways ranging from mental exhaustion to muscle cramps. With that in mind, here are some of the proven reasons why drinking clean water improves a person’s health at work — and consequently, their productivity and output:
1. Drinking adequate water increases blood and oxygen flow to the brain
Various studies have shown the result of dehydration on the brain — and they’re not good for productivity, to say the least.
These studies have shown that dehydration can lead to difficulty in paying attention to tasks.
In a recent experiment, Zip Water invited two gamers to play against each other for a virtual game of ping pong. However, instead of using controllers, they used EEG headsets which allowed them to play the ball using mind control.
The results showed that the dehydrated player performed far worse than his opponent because of fatigue and loss of focus.
Apart from this, dehydration can impair your short-term memory and recall of long-term memory.
Furthermore, it becomes more difficult for you to perform mental arithmetic if you’re dehydrated. Often you may not even realize it, instead feeling hungry or just tired instead of thirsty.
2. Drinking clean water reduces stress
One of the biggest issues at work is stress, no matter what job you have, you have to deal with it in some way. Stress can be particularly difficult in office environments where everyone is in close quarters with each other. We all understand what stress can do and how it can affect the mood and productivity of everyone at work.
According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, 61% of Americans claim that work is one of their most common sources of stress. There are endless causes of stress at work, some of them are psychological while others are physiological.
In the words of Amanda Carlson, RD, Director of Performance Nutrition at Athletes’ Performance:
“Studies have shown that being just half a liter dehydrated can increase your cortisol levels. Cortisol is one of those stress hormones. Staying in a well-hydrated status can keep your stress levels down. When you don’t give your body the fluids it needs, you’re putting stress on it, and it’s going to respond to that.”
Taking water will not automatically solve all stress problems. But, it goes a long way towards relieving stress, which can lead to dehydration, and vice versa.
3. Drinking clean water makes the muscle to retain strength and shape
Surprise! Drinking water is also really important for your muscles! Without adequate amounts of water (especially clean water), muscles can cramp. When muscles cramp, people are in pain and productivity come screeching to a halt. Muscle cramps are much more likely to occur in physically demanding jobs, but dehydration increases the likelihood no matter where you work. Sitting at a desk all day can take a toll on your body.
Sadly, when a dehydrated person engages in strenuous exercises, it may lead to cramped muscles. Why? Because water helps to carry oxygen through the muscles which allow them to work longer and harder before tiring. Again, this may be more applicable for physically intense jobs, but the importance of water and proper muscle function cannot be understated.
4. Drinking water helps in weight loss
When employees drink the right amount of clean drinking water, they become less hungry as they feel full most of the time. Proper hydration and water intake helps in burning excess fats. Research shows that a large glass of water can increase body metabolism by 24-30% for up to 90 minutes.
5. Drinking water helps to detoxify the body
Removal of toxic substances from the bloodstream is a very important function that your body is constantly undergoing. The Kidney and Liver help your body perform this function on a regular basis, and their functioning relies heavily on water.
If you don’t drink proper amounts of water, the detoxification job becomes much more difficult for these organs and it can lead to issues like kidney stones. In fact, the leading cause of kidney stones is a lack of drinking water.
6. It aids digestion and defecation
This part maybe a little bit more personal to take about, but also extremely important. Apart from chewing food, taking a lot of clean water also helps food to digest easily in the digestive tract, and there makes it a lot more comfortable to go #2.
This means the body can process the food without constipation. When the human body is dehydrated, it has to take more fluid from the body’s waste product which could make feces hard and difficult to pass.
Water also helps to circulate the nutrients in food through the body. This leads to more energy, a healthier digestive system and a sharper mind.
How Much Water Is Enough?
How much water should you drink for ‘optimum hydration’ and at what point is it enough? Should you drink until you don’t feel thirsty or think about trying to hit ‘proper hydration levels’ on a daily basis? Don’t be overwhelmed by statistics as everyone is unique!
There is no exact amount for everybody because the amount of water you take will depend on your weight, the temperature of your environment, and how much physical activity you take part in. There are thousands of factors that can affect your situation.
Having said that, there are still averages for male and female adults with respect to water consumption.
According to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), women should consume a total volume of 2.7 liters (91 ounces or 15.5 cups) of water daily and men should consume 3.7 liters (125 ounces or 11.5 cups) of water during the same period.
It must be noted that this is the total volume of water that should be consumed. This will also include the water content present in food. NAM estimates that 80% of water intake into the body is through water and beverages while the remaining 20% is from food.
If you find it difficult keeping to a strict rule about water consumption, you can pay attention to signals from your body. When in doubt, an extra glass of water shouldn’t hurt!
Clean Water Should Be Available
For people who are used to going through their day without drinking adequate amounts of clean water, it might be difficult to imagine the difference a few extra glasses of water can make!
To make sure that workers get these benefits, employers can have water dispensers at different positions in the workplace. Water coolers provide easy access to adequate drinking and can operate without a power source.
Providing water dispensers in the workplace is a good idea for everyone, especially when you consider the many health benefits of drinking clean water in the workplace.
Health Issues From Unsafe Drinking Water
Unfortunately, water from the tap at your workplace may not be… exactly the “best” water you have ever had. For many Americans, the water at their place is work is not just distasteful, it’s harmful.
In some states, especially those with a plethora of older office structures, when problems are left unchecked, water sources can become contaminated with lead or arsenic due to rusty pipes. When water with an arsenic level higher than WHO’s recommended level is taken, it could lead to a disease called Arsenicosis.
The disease results in negative health effects like Skin problems, various types of Cancer, and Mental Disorders. It can lead to other effects like loss of productivity.
When people consume lead-contaminated water, it can affect the frontal cortex as the brain cells absorb lead. This is the part of the brain responsible for abstract thought, planning, and attention.
It also affects the hippocampus which is important to learning and memory. Jay Schneider, a Neuroscientist at Thomas Jefferson University, said, “It can really change the programming of the brain, which will have considerable effects on subsequent behavioral and brain function.”
This is why you must have a water purification system at your workplace to avoid these possible effects. Depending on the situation, an inline water treatment system can solver the problem. A quality water purification system helps to remove contaminants like particles, parasites, and bacteria from drinking water.
Cost Effective Water Treatment Solutions for The Office
There are many cost effective options for your office. From stand alone water coolers to high end reverse osmosis water treatment systems, there are plenty of solutions explored on this site.
In most work environments, even a small lift in productivity can lead to big results! Having a water purification system that allows workers to have access to clean water is an investment that every business should get behind.