In the period of COVID-19, the quality of the air we breathe in the office environment is even more important. According to the research of the World Health Organization, since the coronavirus is smaller than 10 microns, its particles can hang in the air for 40-50 hours. The importance of indoor air quality for human health became even more prominent during the pandemic period. With small changes that can be made in the office, you can protect the health of your employees and create more efficient working environments for them.
The Importance of Office Indoor Air Quality
On the other hand, the quality of the air we breathe is an issue that is often overlooked to create a healthier and more efficient working environment. Although we can easily detect bad weather outside, we get used to working hours of unpleasant odours in the office environment. According to the research of the US Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air pollution is 2-5 times more intense than outdoor air, sometimes even up to a hundred times. Therefore, it is of great importance to raise awareness on this issue for the employees to continue their work healthily and efficiently.
The underlying reason for the problems experienced in office indoor air quality is that indoor air quality measurements are not performed regularly or at all in offices. When we look at the factors that negatively affect the air quality in the office; There are many reasons such as low area per person and windows cannot be opened due to variable weather conditions. In this case, low-quality air breathed for hours causes fatigue, headache and low motivation in employees. Therefore, measuring data such as carbon dioxide ratio, temperature and humidity in indoor environments will make a significant contribution to the improvement of the office environment.
One of the other reasons affecting indoor air quality is the pollutants coming from outside. Although comprehensive tests are needed to fully measure indoor air quality, it is an undeniable fact that it negatively affects working conditions in cities with high air pollution. On the other hand, not regularly maintaining the cooling and heating systems makes the building more vulnerable to harmful particles from outside. In other words, many unaccounted factors, from photocopiers to office cleaning materials, seriously affect the air quality in the office.
Even small changes in your office will help you significantly improve office indoor air quality. We can list these solutions as follows:
- If you have a window in your office, you can ventilate often as the weather permits. It will be good for everyone to have fresh air inside. However, you can designate a crew member to turn the thermostat fans on as needed to maintain regular air circulation.
- You can install standalone H13 or H14 HEPA air purifiers or if you have a central air conditioning system you can install retrofit air purifiers like UV Systems or Plasma Ionizers.
- If you upgrade your air filters to the MERV-13 or higher model, it is possible to increase the air quality in the office. If you have a limited budget, you can create a plan so that you can replace your air filters regularly.
- You can buy plants in your office. Your employees will be able to breathe more easily in the office as plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air and give oxygen to the air.
- If there is any spill or leak in your office, clean it immediately, otherwise your belongings may become mouldy and this may cause an allergic reaction to your employees. Therefore, it is useful to keep the indoor relative humidity in your office between 40-60%.
- It is very important to keep your office clean. If you vacuum and clean your office regularly, you can prevent airborne pathogens. It is useful to double-check emissions from equipment such as mould, asbestos or gas stoves.
- Try pulling items (if any) in front of your aerators, this will create smoother air circulation in your office.
- The air ducts of your ventilation get clogged over time, so do not neglect its periodic maintenance for everyone’s health. You should change your air filters between 6 and 12 months. Early detection of problems will save you from potential additional costs in your company in the future.
- You can test your air quality: With the right tools and technical support, you can learn about many variables from the temperature to the humidity of the air in your office. In this way, while protecting the health of your employees, you can create a more efficient working environment in your company. To maintain the ideal indoor humidity, you can get a device that measures relative humidity.