Office work is making you sick. No, it is not your workload. It is not your colleague, the one who has a perpetual cough. The culprit is not even human.

It is the industrial HVAC system -- spreading pollutants, viruses, and dust throughout the office like microscopic confetti.

It's true -- HVAC systems in office buildings are linked to higher rates of employee illness and absenteeism. Of course, many factors contribute to indoor air quality problems, such as improper installation and maintenance of the systems, pollutants and synthetic materials, and overall ventilation problems in the building. (So if your eyes are constantly watering and your throat feels like it is burning, you may have a bona fide case of "sick building syndrome.")

Before you stock up on hand sanitizer, remember there is another option. You do not have to stay cooped up in an office forever. Why not choose a healthier work environment -- in your own home?

We built Aha! around an entirely distributed team of talented people working right where they live. I believe that remote work not only helps our team achieve sustainable happiness, it also offers a healthier way of working than many of us had before. One team member gladly traded a round-trip commute of more than two hours. Another gave up a hectic travel schedule when he joined our team and is happier for it.

While none of us is immune to the occasional cold, it's a relief to know that people we care about -- our colleagues and teammates -- are able to create a work environment that first their needs.

Here are a few more reasons that remote work is healthier than toiling in an office cubicle:

Control surrounding

Many modern office buildings are designed to be energy-efficient and airtight -- with windows that do not open. This means there is no chance for fresh air (unless you sneak outside for a break). Working remotely, you can create a comfortable workspace where you can be most productive. You have the freedom to decide where and how to get your work done. Beyond airborne germs, that kind of autonomy will certainly improve your mental state.

More activity

Choosing the stairs instead of the office elevator may help you meet your daily step count. But a stairwell is hardly an inspiring place for a workout. When working from home, you can walk your dog around the neighborhood, practice yoga, or enjoy a morning bike ride (while everyone else sits in traffic). I get outside and exercise most days of the week, and it not only gives me a terrific energy boost but helps me maintain my focus.

Reduce contaminants

If you work from home, you no longer have to worry about the officemate with that hacking cough. No more sanitizing keyboards and phones. The only workspace you need to keep clean is your own. (And you might finally get through one winter without catching the flu.) Consider how much better you will feel -- and how much work you will accomplish -- if you stay healthy.

If you have ever thought about a remote job, you may have focused on the flexibility as a nice "perk." But it is more than that. It's worth considering all the ways that a remote job can help you achieve a healthier lifestyle. Remote work makes a positive difference for our team and it can for you too.

How do you stay healthy at work during cold season?

Published on: Jan 19, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.