Your Office Air Can Make You Smarter
Workplace air quality has long been a point of contention, with that ‘too hot’, ‘too cold’, ‘too stuffy’ argument being a ubiquitous part of modern office politics.
Image: courtesy Harvard University
But while these arguments have before seemed trivial, a series of recent reports show that air quality can make your workers less effective at best, and very sick, at worst.
Here’s a quick look at some issues and thoughts on how technology may step up to support the new demands of a safe and healthy workplace.
Dumb and Dumber!
How good is the air in your office – are you actually making your employees dumb(er)???
If you’ve ever felt exhausted in your office in the afternoon and ‘brain dead’ by the time you go home, it’s probably your office, not your HR policies that are to blame.
Joseph Allen and John Macomber of Harvard’s School of Public Health and the author of Healthy Buildings: How Indoor Spaces Drive Performance and Productivity, puts the blame firmly on the work environment.
“Ever feel tired during a meeting? That’s because most conference rooms are not bringing in enough fresh air. When that door opens, it literally breathes life back into the room. But there is a lot more acting on your body that you can’t feel or see.
Study after study has found that your performance will dramatically improve if you are working in optimal conditions (with high rates of ventilation, few damaging persistent chemicals, and optimal humidity, lighting and noise control). “
In one study, researchers found that every time you double the rate of outdoor air delivered into an office, worker performance improves by 1.7% across four simulated office tasks: text typing, addition, proofreading, and creative thinking. It’s no surprise, then, that an analysis of sick leave data for more than 3,000 workers across 40 buildings found that 57% of all sick leave was attributable to poor ventilation.
Of course, it’s not just air quality that drives health and performance. A study of workers found that they reported more headaches and worked 6.5% more slowly on a typing test when they were in an office with a pollution source. The “pollution source” in question? A dirty carpet. The amount of indoor nature and views matter, too. Young adults in an office designed following biophilic design principles had lower blood pressure, lower heart rates, and better performance on short-term memory tests.
Adroit supplies systems that can measure carbon dioxide and particle pollution in any office environment. See our Indoor Air Quality Monitoring Solution.
Spaces like this make you smarter
In recent years the move towards hot-desking and flexible use of space has been the fashion. At the heart of this has really been a drive to find ways for more workers to use less space… in current times, this can seem like a poor strategy.
And, now workers themselves can see that too…. Why risk the hot-desking chaos when you can get on the zoom meeting from home? And missing the morning commute is a real added bonus.
So, those same corporates that were looking to cram us in, are now looking to farm us all out. Work from home if it works best for you, or come in to the office on rostered days to allow for fewer workers onsite.
Or ‘pod’ style human management that means the business effectively divides into groups that don’t need to physically interact.
Of course, this takes a heap of additional planning by management, things like rosters with limits on staff numbers in a building, temperature scanners at the entrance to ensure only well staff can enter, and tracking of door entry passes and lift use to assist tracing in case of an outbreak.
But ironically, the payoff is actually better than the battery-hen format we were working in, with happier staff, working in more, clean space, wasting less time commuting and fewer sick days off.
Adroit provides an IoT fever scanning solution that can integrate with existing access control systems.
Coping with Covid!
Wearing a mask to go for a bike ride around town? Well, that’s the example set by Suzie Wiles. But ironically, research shows it is INDOORS that the real danger lies. The transmission of the virus in an MiQ outbreak in Auckland appears to have come from the doors of two adjacent isolation rooms being opened at once and the virus travelling in the air across the hall.
That’s led the experts to double-think what helps and what hinders virus spread indoors.
In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued guidance on indoor virus management stating that: “Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures. Unconditioned spaces can cause thermal stress to people that may be directly life-threatening and that may also lower resistance to infection.”
What that means is that in Corporate America (the land of the lawsuit), businesses are rushing to dramatically beef up the air conditioning and HVAC systems. All those nasty, stuffy cubicles where bugs can hide need to be removed to let air move freely and for the bugs to be removed by the clean air systems. All those Perspex dividers we thought would keep us safe actually do the opposite and they’re being cleared away, in favour of social distancing.
Add to that, a much stronger flow of fresh air and filtration and you’ll knock out many of those possible infection points. This, combined with continuous air quality monitoring can help create a safer, healthier workplace for employees.
Adroit Indoor Air Monitoring solution
Adroit Indoor Air Monitoring solution