The Importance of Nutrition – Productivity Series #1 | Innovative Office Solutions

With the Holiday season just around the corner, we’re moving into “comfort food season”.  We’ll be the first to tell you that we love our comfort food.  Sure, it always “hits the spot” and we’re full for what feels like days afterwards, but what are we doing to our bodies – and how can we avoid the dreaded “food coma” during precious family time?  Below are some nutritional tips talking about foods that help satisfy and keep you feeling “full” – all while helping keep you moving through the day.

In our first in a series of posts, we’re focusing on 3 key factors in increasing your productivity – things you might not always think about.  

First up is nutrition!

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) adequate nourishment can raise national productivity levels by 20 percent.  That’s quite the increase and, frankly, we could all use increased productivity in today’s busy world.  In a 2012 study, the journal Population Health Management stated that employees who eat unhealthily were 66 percent more likely to report a loss in productivity when compared to those who regularly ate grains, fruits and vegetables.  Thats every 2 out of 3 employees who feel less productive when not receiving adequate nutrition.

But what exactly is adequate nutrition?  Is it adhering specifically to the food pyramid?  The truth is – the answer is going to vary from person to person.  Hopefully, however, after reading this blog post – you’ll have a better idea of what will work for you.

(Dark) Chocolate Isn’t An Enemy – Thank Goodness

Nuts Can Help Keep You Sane

  • Chock-full of Vitamin E, nuts and seeds also help slow cognitive decline as you age.  Basically, nuts and seeds are an investment in your health.  The more you eat, the healthier you’ll be in the long run.

You Need Fat?!

  • Avocado’s, for example, can help reduce LOWER BAD CHOLESTEROL – ultimately decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease.  Blood flow is increased as bad cholesterol and plaque build up are eliminated.  So go ahead, have another spoonful of guacamole.

(Grass-Fed) Butter is *GASP* GOOD for Your Heart?

  • Grass-fed butter is full of Vitamin K2  – is one of the most important nutrients in the diet for heart and bone health.
    • Vitamin K works modifies proteins, giving them the ability to bind calcium ions.  Calcium can “leach” our of bones, which can lead to osteoporosis and heart disease.  For this reason, it affects all sorts of functions related to calcium metabolism.

Antioxidants Keep You Healthy…And Productive

  • According to neuroscientist James A. Joseph, “dark-hued fruits and vegetables, especially blueberries, are just about the best foods you could consume for inoculating brain and body against the ravages of time.”  He goes on to state that blueberries can preserve cardiovascular health by acting as an anti-inflammatory agent, as well as promote brain integrity. “Oxidative stress and inflammation are the evil twins of brain aging,” Joseph insists.

Inflammation is Good — But Also Bad

Inflammation helps us heal, but out of control inflammation can have adverse effects.

  • Thought to play a role in obesity, heart disease and cancer, inflammatory foods are those high in sugar and saturated fat content. “They cause overactivity in the immune system, which can lead to joint pain, fatigue, and damage to the blood vessels,” says Scott Zashin, MD, clinical professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

The bottom line?  Results may vary.  But the first step is taking the initiative to realize that, just maybe, your productivity levels – or lack of – could be due to your diet.  Hopefully our tips above – and the research provided – will help you realize that not all increased productivity is due to increased caffeine consumption.

Simple Office Changes Help Increase Hygiene | Innovative Office Solutions

It’s that time of year again – flu season.  It may seem like whatever you do to prevent the flu, you somehow always get sick.  But – could it be – that you’re not being germ-conscious in the right places?

This blog post is timely not only for flu season approaching – but due to recent epidemics spreading across the globe.  The more familiar you are with cleanliness best practices, the more well informed you’ll be when it comes to germs.  The more conscious you are when it comes to these issues – the healthier you and your family will be during the entire year.

One product we’d especially like to showcase here – one we have in our office, in fact – is the SmartStock® Utensil Dispenser.

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With one pull of the red lever, a utensil of your choice is dispensed – doing away with multiple hands rummaging through a box of plasticware.  A device like this – especially used in an office setting – may greatly reduce the amount of germs spread at the workplace, and keep folks healthier for longer periods of time.

Further Benefits and Features Include:

  • Each dispenser holds up to 120 utensil pieces
  • Promotes good hygiene – the enclosed design helps protect from contaminants
  • Reduced Consumption – One-at-a-time dispensing reduces cutlery usage on average by 29% and up to 49% vs. open bins.*
  • Speeds up restocking – just load the refill, insert, rip, pull, and your done in seconds
  • Frees up valuable counter space – sized just right to keep things looking neat and organized

For more information on this – and other hygienic products – visit our Innovative Office Solutions website or contact Customer Care 952.808.9900 for more info!

*Independent research commissioned by Georgia-Pacific

And just how dirty are everyday devices and surfaces?


Plants and Productivity | Innovative Office Solutions

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Thinking about “sprucing” (pun intended) up the office? Recent studies have shown that if you have plants around the office – you are benefitting in more ways that one. Every office needs something colorful: whether it be different colored walls, unique carpeting, modern-looking desks, or fun desk trinkets – these things break up the sometimes monotonous workplace environment. An often overlooked and underutilized office accessory, however, are plants – which may be the most beneficial of all.

Studies Conducted

Recent studies have shown that plants can aid in concentration, help increase productivity and boost staff wellbeing by 47 percent. Also shown was that in offices where staff are allowed to make design decisions, creativity and productivity increased by 45 per cent and 38 per cent respectively. These numbers come from a study – conducted by the University of Exeter – in which employee output was measured and compared across different types of business space. Nearly 350 visitors to the 2013 Chelsea Flower Show were asked to measure their creativity, happiness, and productivity in four differently designed work environments in a series of 90 experiments. The findings, according to the researchers, “demonstrate that plants are not unnecessary elements of business environments and add weight to other studies, which indicate plants increase psychological comfort and business performance.”

Beneficial Outside of the Office

As you may have guessed, having plants around the office is just one of the many benefits they provide. Further benefits of including plants in your everyday life include:

  • The Classroom: According to the Royal College of Agriculture, plants may increase learning potential for students.
  • In Hospitals: Compared to hospital rooms with little-to-no plants, patients with plants in their rooms experience less pain, anxiety and fatigue, take less pain medication, have lower blood pressure and heart rates, and are more pleased with their recovery rooms.
  • In the Home: Rooms with plants contain 50-60 per cent fewer airborne molds and bacteria than rooms with no plants. Plants filter and clean the air, reducing chemicals linked to colds, breathing problems and even cancer, according to the Stennis Space Centre.
  • Our Overall Health: According to NASA, houseplants can remove up to 87 per cent of air toxins within 24 hours, and can lead to reduced fatigue, coughs, sore throats and other cold-related illnesses by more than 30 per cent.

How Else Do Plants Help?

If you haven’t rushed out to the nearest greenhouse to buy yourself a desk plant yet, there are plenty more research studies that show how else being around plants can benefit you throughout your daily life.

  • Increased Concentration and Memory: Tasks – located near or around nature – are performed better and with greater accuracy, ultimately generating a better result.  Adding to that, being within or near nature can improve memory performance and attention span by 20 per cent.
  • Increased Smiles: Office flowers and plants increase a persons mood and reduces the likelihood stress-related depression.
  • Improved Relationships:  Research shows that those who spend extended periods of time around plants tend to have better relationships with others.  The exposure to nature and wildlife increases people’s compassion for each other and for the environment in which they live.

Read about these – and more – benefits at the Texas A&M University website.

Do you keep a large crop of plants in your office?  If so – why?  If not – why?  Based on these research findings, are you headed to your nearest florist over your lunch break?

Top 5 Benefits of LED Lighting | Innovative Office Solutions

3M's Advanced LED Light Bulb

3M’s Advanced LED Light Bulb

The list below is just a sample of the benefits associated with LED Light bulbs and lighting systems.

Everyone has heard of LED light bulbs and lighting systems, but some may not fully understand the advantages and disadvantages.  The main disadvantage associated with LED lighting are the up-front costs.  However, the multiple other benefits of implementing LED lighting systems far outweigh the up-front cost of bulbs, installation, etc.

Following is a list of the 5 largest benefits of LED lighting systems.

1.    Energy Efficiency

When comparing the efficiency of LED lights to more traditional lighting with conventional light bulbs, the difference is vast. LED’s provide an estimated energy efficiency of between 80% and 90%.  What does this mean?  It means that 80% to 90% of the electrical energy you are paying for is converted to light, while the other 10% to 20% is converted to other forms of energy, such as heat.

Traditional incandescent bulbs operate at 20% efficiency, losing the remaining 80% of energy to heat.  These numbers are proof that LED lighting systems efficiency is far superior to traditional lighting methods.

2.    Lifespan

LED bulbs and diodes have a lifetime expectancy of up to 100,000 hours, meaning you could leave your lights on for 11 years – straight – without them burning out.  Or, if you used them every other day, they would last for 22 years.  Finally – if you use your LED lights for 8 hours a day, it would be 20 years before you would need to buy new LED bulbs.

Needless to say once you invest in LED lighting technology, you won’t be buying light bulbs for a while.

3.    Environmentally Friendly

LED light bulbs are free of toxic chemicals – whereas most fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury and other environmentally hazardous materials.

Contained in LED bulbs are non-toxic materials that are 100% recyclable and can decrease your carbon footprint by one third.  Along with the reduced carbon footprint, 25 incandescent light bulbs equal 1 LED bulb, in terms of materials and manufacturing.  So, with LED bulbs, you’re not only saving money and energy now, you are helping provide a greener future for generations to come.

4.    Durability

LED lights are extremely durable and are built with the ability to withstand strong environmental factors.

Because of their ability to withstand these rough conditions, they are ideal for outdoor lighting systems – especially when exposed to wind or rain, construction sites or manufacturing sites, or vandalism.

5.    Lighting Power

When powered-on, LED lights brighten immediately – eliminating the warm-up period seen in some traditional lighting systems.  These benefits cater greatly to projects involving traffic and signal lights, but also work well for other projects.

LED lights can be turned on and off without it effecting the  lifetime or light emission of the bulb – whereas traditional lighting may take longer to reach full brightness and frequently turning on and off the light can drastically reduce the lifetime of traditional bulbs.
These are just five of the main benefits to LED lighting systems.  Honorable mentions also include reduced UV emissions, design and usage flexibility, light disbursement and much more.

For an assessment on how your business can cut costs using LED bulbs, visit our website to contact our facility specialists today!

High-Performance Matting Systems | Keeping Your Office Neat and Tidy


The wrath of poor weather conditions can be averted when high-performance matting systems are implemented throughout the workplace.

Minnesota winters are cruel – cruel on the roads, our cars, and our sanity.  One place that is often overlooked when it comes to poor weather conditions is the workplace.  Tracking in dirt, water and salt can take a toll on the entire building, leading to expenses that can easily be avoided.  With high-performance matting systems however, facilities can stay clean, healthy and safe year-round.

In today’s world, rarely do we have time to stop and sufficiently wipe our feet before we walk into a building.  A common practice in the workplace is to simply lay a mat or rug at the entryway in hopes that others will stop and wipe off the excess under their shoes.  While most may stop and quickly wipe their shoes, certain mats don’t perform as well as others, leading to quickly worn mats that can damage the floor beneath and ultimately a dirty workplace.

Effective, high-performance matting systems are designed to keep dirt, salt, water – most anything a shoe can track in – at the door.  Unlike other mats and rugs, high-performance mats have the ability to keep the excess beneath your feet from spreading throughout the workplace.  This happens due to “two-level” or “bi-level” matting – where users walk on a higher level, causing excesses to fall to a lower level, preventing further spread of dirt and water.

You say effective – but how effective?

  • Front door entrances are responsible for 80% of soil found in the workplace
  • One person tracks, on average, .02 ounces of soil into the workplace every day.  That leads to 160 pounds of debris per year
  • Costs to remove one pound of soil from the work place can range anywhere from $500 to $800
  • 15 feet of high-performance matting can trap and hold up to 75% of soil at the door, while 30 feet can remove nearly 100%

Proper matting not only increases office cleanliness, but safety as well.  The National Safety Council estimated the cost of a slip-and-fall accident in the United States to be $50,000 on average – taking into account lost time, workers comp, and medical costs.  These accidents and their costs could be avoided by having effective matting systems in place.

High-performance matting systems are manufactured using higher quality materials and come with a warranty guaranteeing their quality and life expectancy – which customers can expect to last a year if not several, making them extremely cost effective and a tremendous investment for the workplace.

When comparing mat rental to purchasing, there can be a significant savings. In a recent example with an Innovative Office Solutions customer, they cut their annual expense by 50%, saving a total of $2,400 per year.

For an assessment of how Innovative Office Solutions can help keep your workplace clean and how two-level matting systems can continually help save you money, contact one of our Facility Specialists at


Don’t Give Colds During the Season of Giving

The Healthy Workplace Project* Wash, Wipe, Sanitize Protocol can Reduce Your Chance of Catching a Cold by as Much as 80%

Winter months can get long and with the season of snow, many suffer from the cold and flu.  The most vulnerable environments are, of course, home, school and the workplace. The larger the workplace, the greater chance an employee has of coming in contact with a cold or flu virus.

The human rhinovirus can cause over 560 million yearly cases of the Common Cold in the United States.

In 2010, Kimberley-Clark Professional launched the Healthy Workplace Project in order to promote happy and healthy office workers.  The idea is to motivate workers to adopt better hygiene habits in order to reduce germ transmission, resulting in cleaner buildings and ultimately a healthier work environment.

  • The Healthy Workplace Project can reduce absenteeism by up to 46%
    • Each year companies lose an average of $1,685 per employee due to absenteeism and presenteeism – employees coming to work while sick
    • 98% of the workers will miss work during the year due to a minor illness such as influenza, stomach illness, or a cold – 80% of which are preventable
    • Over 80% of project participants stated they were more satisfied with their employer as a result of the Healthy Workplace Project
    • More than half of the participants felt more productive as a result of the Healthy Workplace Project

Kimberley-Clark Professional also tested different office “hotspots” for levels of contamination.  Their findings may make you think twice about using the office microwave:

Places with highest levels of contamination:

  • 75% of break room sink faucets
  • 48% of microwave door handles
  • 27% of keyboards
  • 26% of refrigerator door handles
  • 23% of water fountain buttons
  • 21% of vending machine buttons

In order to reduce these gross numbers, Kimberley-Clark Professional initiated The Healthy Workplace Project* Wash, Wipe, Sanitize Protocol.  These steps can reduce the number of items and surfaces contaminated with viruses by as much as 62% and reduce the probability of infection for respiratory infections by approximately 80%.

Along with the Wash, Wipe, Sanitize Protocol, everyone and their grandmother has a “family secret” to cure what ails you.  There are countless preventative measures you can take to decrease the likelihood of catching the rhinovirus, or worse.  Below are some of the easiest steps to take to prevent sickness:

  • Frequently wash hands with soap and warm water.
  • Keep hand sanitizer handy.
  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, ideally water.
  • Exercise!
  • Stay home while you’re sick.

With the average American getting a cold 2.5 times per year, there is really no escaping it.  By taking advantage of the above-mentioned tips and combining them with the famous family soup recipe, or over-the-counter meds, you’ll be sure to kick it in no time.

To keep employees happy and healthy during the cold and flu season, check out some of the products Innovative Office Solutions carries.  Perfect for combatting any sickness this season is the Kimberely-Clark Professional Desk Caddy(Item #KIM38538) – which encourages the Wash – Wipe – Sanitize protocol, right at person’s desk.


Why bother washing your hands?

I’m one of those people (probably the majority?) that when posed with the choice of drying my hands with a paper towel or an air dryer, I go with paper towels every time. It takes less time, and who really wants to spend more time in a public restroom than absolutely necessary?

Well, now I have a new reason to prefer paper towels. The issue of hygiene never really occurred to me. In fact if I was asked which is more hygienic I’d probably have guessed air dryers. Apparently I’d have been wrong.

A recent University of Westminster study measured bacteria counts directly below and up to 2 meters away from different dryers and towel dispensers. Paper towels posed the least risk of cross contamination. Warm air and high speed dryers literally blow out bacteria for long distances – up to 2 meters in the case of the Dyson Airblade (it’s a pretty cool dryer though, I must admit).

High speed dryers harbor bacteria on their surfaces and in their air streams which could lead to dangerous cross contamination. So even though you just washed the bacteria from your hands, air dryers can put it right back on, as well as circulate bacteria from surfaces around the room.

The University of Westminster study found that high speed dryers increase bacteria count on hands up to 42%, and warm air dryers increase bacteria by up to 254%. On the other hand, paper towels actually reduce bacteria on hands by up to 77%.

So next time you’re in the restroom… paper or air?