Static electricity in an office is a bigger problem than many people may realize. While this normally happens in colder, dryer months, it’s been known to affect people year-round. Static doesn’t just affect employees, either, as it can wreak havoc on computers and other electrical equipment.
This is caused when two surfaces rub together, which changes their charge from negative to positive, or vice versa. This subsequently leads to a build-up of certain electrons in certain fabrics, which leads to a shock being felt when it meets that of an opposing charge.
Much of this can be seen when you touch a computer or other electronic device (like a flatbed scanner) or even a doorknob. This means that you could end up receiving too many shocks for comfort during a typical working day.
As an office worker, this is something that I’ve wanted to avoid as much as possible. While there have been several tips and tricks floating around, few seemed to be effective. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t several things you can do to avoid static electricity in the office.
Instead, there are a few steps you can take to minimize and hopefully avoid getting a static shock while you’re working.
What You’ll Need
Before you start static-proofing your office, there are a few things that you might need to get. While much of this depends on which approach you’re taking to deal with the static electricity, it’s recommended that you pick each of them up.
- HVAC System: While most office buildings and warehouses will have this, you may need to start using it much more than you already do.
- Anti-Static Carpet Sprays: If your office is carpeted, you should consider using sprays designed to tackle static. These are low-cost and can be much more effective than you might think.
- Humidifier: A humidifier can reduce the amount of electricity in the air, which means that it cuts down on the static. With a small investment, you’ll avoid any shocks. This can be an effective alternative to a large HVAC system.
- Anti-Static Mats: While these may look like regular mats, they’ve been designed to absorb any static electricity when you walk over them. As a result, you can reduce the static shocks you feel throughout the building.
- Leather Soled Shoes: Leather is one of the most effective materials against electrical charges, which helps prevent any static from passing through your body.
- Non-Wool Clothing: While colder months will mean that you’ll wear warmer clothes, you should avoid wearing wool in the office. This is because wool can attract static electricity and lead to more shocks.
Though these might seem like small things to combat the issue, they can have much more of an impact than you might think. While they might take a sizable investment, they’ll avoid the majority of static shocks that you’ll feel, as well as any other electrical charges.
How To Avoid Static Shock In The Office
Now that you’ve got everything you need to start shockproofing your office, you’ll now have to start the process. This is much easier and faster than you might think. In many cases can take a day or less, especially if you know what you’re doing.
1. Amp Up The HVAC System
HVAC systems are usually used in larger office buildings and warehouses, so you may not need to go out and buy one. During the day, you should start using the climate control option much more often than you used to, which will help in a few ways.
During the Summer months, heat can lead to more static electricity in the air. This means that you’ll need to cool the office to reduce the electrical charge around the building. Alongside this is a humidifier, often built-in to an HVAC, which can help during the winter months.
Many people may not realize that the amount of water in the air affects the current running through it. This also extends to much of the furniture, and even the carpets, as they may become damp during the Winter. As a result, you may be shocked much more during these months.
By reducing the humidity, however, you’ll be able to avoid this. Alongside this is climate control, where most HVAC systems shine, which you can use year-round. While it will take a certain amount of time to find the right temperature setting each month to reduce the static level in the air, it can be well worth it.
This has the added benefit of keeping your employees warm or cold enough during certain seasons, which can affect their overall happiness. It could also mean that they shouldn’t need to wear warmer clothes during the winter months, increasing the number of static shocks that they feel while at the office.
2. Alternative: Try A Humidifier
As we mentioned above, the humidity around the office can play a large role in the amount of static in the air. However, not every office can afford an HVAC system, especially for smaller buildings or start-ups.
There is a workaround; however, a basic humidifier should be able to do the trick. You should keep the humidity in your office between 40% and 50%, which should keep the building shock-free without the air feeling too dry.
Various models can work for this, although you should consider going for a more expensive option. This is because they’ll be more likely to last longer and shouldn’t require much maintenance to stay effective.
The size of your office can play a role in which humidifier you should pick. As a rule of thumb, the larger the office, the larger the product should be. You could also consider buying a few small humidifiers, which you should then place at key points around the office.
You mightn’t need to keep these running constantly, but it’s recommended that you have them on for a few hours every day. These will be more effective in the winter months, as the air often holds a large volume of moisture, which is naturally what the device tackles.
They should act as a dehumidifier during the winter months, while they’ll be a humidifier during the summer. This means that you should aim to purchase a device that does both, or you may need to swap them out from season to season, which could become expensive.
3. Start Using Carpet Sprays
Many start-ups and other small businesses may not be able to afford humidifiers or HVAC systems. This doesn’t mean that you’ll need to put up with static shocks, as several carpet sprays can be effective for this.
These are quite easy to use, as all you’ll need to do is purchase the product and give your carpet a good spray. In many cases, how much of it you’ll need to use can depend on which brand you purchase, which means that you’ll need to read the instructions before applying it.
These anti-static sprays should begin working immediately, although this can also be affected by the brand itself. The products work by adding conductive particles to a carpet, which minimizes the amount of electricity passed from the carpet to a person, avoiding the shocks that many people will associate with carpets.
When you’re choosing an anti-static spray, there are a few things that you’ll need to consider. The first of these is how much of an area a can will cover. This means that you’ll need to know your office’s square footage before going shopping and then buying enough of the cans to cover everything.
If you’re environmentally-minded, this may also play a factor, as some sprays have a lower impact than others.
Applying the spray will naturally take a large amount of time, which you should be prepared to do. In some cases, you may need to respray every time your carpet is sprayed, although this may not affect every product. This adds another reason to read the instructions before you buy it.
4. Put Down Some Anti-Static Mats
While anti-static carpet sprays can be effective, many offices don’t have a carpet, negating the product’s benefits. To avoid this, you should consider anti-static mats, which you could then place in key areas around the office.
A few areas could be mandatory for these to be placed, with the most obvious being where office staff complains about the issue. The most notable of these is around any electrical equipment that you might have.
If you have a large amount of equipment, then it’s recommended that the mats are placed around it, as any potential electrical output is negated before it can affect you. It’s also recommended that you put them at any of the office’s entrances, as this will remove any static while someone is entering.
These work by absorbing the electricity as they contact any fabrics, which has a domino effect around the office. In many cases, these are made out of foam, which is often one of the more effective materials at absorbing static electricity.
When you’re buying a mat, you should know how much of an area you’ll want to be covered before you go shopping. This will dictate the overall size of the anti-static mats themselves. In some cases, you may be able to get them custom-made, depending on your needs.
While this may be a more expensive option, it can often be worth it, especially if you have servers or other equipment in the office. Smaller mats can also be perfect for being placed under desks, which will avoid any shocks being felt while you’re working.
5. Buy Some Leather Soled Shoes
Many people believe that rubber-soled shoes are an effective choice against preventing static shock. While these can be great for ensuring that no charges run through your body, they often work as an insulator, which means that they’ll keep electricity in the body. This electricity can then be passed on, prompting a shock.
To avoid this, you should consider picking up a pair of leather-soled shoes. These offer a much more porous surface, which helps you in two ways. The first of these is similar to rubber-soled shoes, in that they prevent electricity from passing through you.
The main difference lies in releasing any electrons, which keeps your electrical charge much more balanced. Doing so means that you shouldn’t be able to pass them on to doorknobs or other metal devices. As a result, you should avoid any static shocks.
People who believe that these shouldn’t be a great decision for the office may be mistaken. You shouldn’t need to pick shoes that are completely leather, which may be against company standards.
Instead, you should focus on the sole and ensure the rest of the shoe is of an office standard. By doing so, you’ll be protecting yourself while still looking respectable with a suit or other office attire.
6. Avoid Wearing Wool
As we mentioned above, many static shocks can be felt during the winter months. While a dehumidifier will be helpful against this, it may not help with the cold. This results in many people wearing warm clothes so that they can stay comfortable in the office.
One material that you should avoid is wool, as it can often increase the amount of friction that a body feels. This is especially seen when walking around or rubbing against other fabrics, should as shirts, dresses, or other office attire.
While the fabric may feel dry, it contains a lot of water, often holding much more than many other fabrics. This results in wool being attractive for many electrical charges, resulting in you feeling many more shocks around the office.
However, you shouldn’t need to feel cold during the winter to avoid getting shocked in the office. Instead of wool, you should opt for cotton, as this provides just as much warmth while avoiding the friction that comes with its counterpart.
This can also be beneficial outside of the office, as you’ll be able to see the benefits almost everywhere. You may be able to find a few other fabrics that could work while still being office-friendly.
As someone who has worked in an office for most of my career, getting rid of static shocks meant a lot. So far, each of the above steps has helped, and I’ve avoided getting shocked as much as I used to.
The entire office has been feeling the benefits, with many of us complaining much less about the static. While it took a certain amount of time and effort to do, it was certainly worth it.
What do you think of each of the steps? Have they helped you in your office? Let us know what you think in the comments below, and give us a share if you found it helpful! If you’ve got any other tips or tricks that we might have missed, please let us know.