Employees are filtering back into offices at a steady rate, as the nation’s workforce tries to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us. While in-office hours remain below pre-COVID levels, millions of Americans have returned to their office environments with some employers hoping to attract greater volumes of workers. This has not been universally well-received by employees, as many want to continue in a work-from-home capacity.
Employers and bosses, in turn, largely prefer returning to in-person work, citing stronger comradery and higher productivity. If you fall on this side of the debate, we’d like you to consider an important aspect of return-to-office initiatives: creating a healthier working environment.
Whether you prefer an office environment or work-from-home, the reality is that we will be sharing more breathing space with more people over the coming months. Since the pandemic, there has been a paradigm shift in the way we think about and discuss shared space.
Air Quality in the Workspace
Though it took a global pandemic for discourse around indoor air quality to hit the mainstream, it has been a cause for concern for experts for years. It impacts productivity, daily wellness, and overall health. Employees now voice concerns about the health of their workspace and office buildings, along with the desire for “greener” buildings that cause minimal environmental damage.
As a result of employee concerns, employers and building managers are taking steps to improve air quality in their workspaces. If you have not done so already, then you may be falling behind. Not only will a healthy work environment help in attracting and retaining talented workers, but it will also increase their productivity and health, saving you money.
If you are a business owner, you should familiarize yourself with ways of improving ventilation, airflow, and air quality in your workplace. Further, you should come up with a plan to monitor the levels of air quality in your building. With modern technology, it is time-efficient and cost-effective. Moreover, your employees will take notice that you care.
How to Test Indoor Air Quality at Your Office
You can buy quality commercial and consumer sensors that are reliable tools for measuring air quality trends in your office. They can track and alert you when there is significant movement in indoor air quality levels, good or bad.
If you are in a large facility, you may want to use many sensors and manage them through an easy-to-use centralized desktop or mobile phone application. You can also display these air quality readings to your occupants to ensure peace of mind when at work.
Your indoor air quality conditions are influenced by a myriad of factors, including the weather, humidity, and sunlight. This means it will fluctuate with seasonal changes. Consistent monitoring of indoor air quality offices allows you to identify issues and hopefully pinpoint a solution. Whether it’s elevated CO2 levels, pollen, or smog, detecting more pollutants will enable you to narrow down potential sources of issues before they become serious problems.
Devices such as the WYND Halo detect these threats over time, providing you with real-time analytics on the quality of air in your indoor space. The WYND Halo measures over 16 pollutants and uses AI to generate an indoor air quality score, accounting for numerous factors.
What to Do About Air Quality
Once you have settled on a way to track air quality, you will next have to identify your solutions. The two most valuable methods to reduce the number of bad particles in the air are ventilation and portable air purification, according to the CDC.
There are two types of ventilation:
- Mechanical ventilation
- Natural ventilation
Mechanical ventilation uses HVAC or similarly powered devices that keep a constant flow of air through vents. Natural ventilation is, you guessed it, opening windows! Unfortunately, many office buildings do not have windows that open or are conveniently located in shared spaces. This means it may not be a solution in your office space.
Ventilation is an effective tool for fighting poor indoor air quality because:
- Outside air is free of the certain pollutants that accrue indoors
- Outside air is readily available
Ventilation unfortunately has a large drawback: costs. Ventilation can interfere with the systemic environmental controls in your space. You will get less bang for your buck on the money you spend on air conditioning, heating, or humidity. Another issue with ventilation is that the pollutants that you are eliminating must flow through common breathing areas before they are gone.
The Value of Air Purifiers
Since air purifiers do not impact your building’s environmental controls, they are more energy-efficient and cost-effective. With portable purifiers, you can make anywhere in your office a healthy breathing area. There are some pollutants that portable purifiers cannot remove at the same speed of effectiveness as ventilation.
Air purifiers are great for removing allergen particles in the air before being breathed in, making the people in your workspace healthier. Unlike HVAC or windows, portable purifiers can be placed in an area at a moment's notice.
Some air purifiers are even capable of destroying pathogens, which gives your office an additional layer of security.
What Better Air Quality Means to You
Simply put, better air quality and airflow will make you money. Though you may be skeptical, the productivity of employees increases substantially when given healthier air on a consistent basis. In fact, one Harvard expert predicts that an employee’s productivity could be increased by $6,500 annually if ventilation is doubled.
This researcher’s prediction does not include the decreased level of absenteeism due to illness and the reduced levels of allergy and seasonal illness. It’s not as simple as opening a few windows, though, as purifiers serve their purpose and are much more practical than changing the layout of your office.
Here are some final takeaways about the improvement your business could see with a concentrated effort on air quality:
- Ventilation removes unavoidable carbon dioxide from spaces where people work
- Use a mix of ventilation and purifiers to save on utility expenses
- Portable air purifiers can reduce particles, allergens, and pathogens in workspaces
- Investing in air quality measures and solutions will increase productivity in your business and help you eliminate stale air
As you navigate returning to the office as an employer or employee, we hope that you will take the appropriate steps to improve your indoor air quality. In short, it will make you and your team happier, healthier, and more productive.
If you have any questions about what may be best for your business or building, do not hesitate to contact the team at WYND Technologies. We are more than happy to help you find the optimal solution for your business.