Several studies have found that monitoring office air quality can increase employee productivity and reduce absenteeism. Considering the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic, knowing what air is breathed indoors is more important than ever. Companies need to return to workspaces safely and IoT technology will be an ally in the immediate future.
The importance of IAQ
A report published by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health says indoor air is one of the nine key foundations of a healthy office building. In fact, poor indoor air quality produces, among other effects:
- Low productivity
- Increase in absenteeism
- Increase in operating costs
- Chronic health problems: respiratory diseases, heart disease
But what does it take to tackle this problem? Especially considering this pandemic situation. First of all, understand the factors that affect indoor air quality in an office.
Factors that affect office air quality
The workplace should keep a temperature of 21ºC / 69ºF: neither too warm nor too cold. Extreme temperatures directly affect worker performance.
2. Carbon dioxide (CO2)
A Harvard research shown decreasing workplace CO2 causes a 50% increase in employee scores on cognitive function tests. CO2 levels should not exceed ~1000 pm in full occupancy. So now, in a pandemic context, it’s important to keep CO2 levels at ~700pm.
3. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
VOCs and other toxic chemicals can be found in office stationery materials (furnishings, copy machines, pesticides, cleaning products, aerosol sprays, craft materials, cleansers and disinfectants, paints, and solvents), causing respiratory and other health diseases.
4. Relative humidity
Studies revealed that maintaining indoor air humidity levels between 40%-60% is the optimum for human health.
5. Particulate Matter
Dust or PM (particulate matter) are inhalable and in some cases can cause serious health effects in the lungs and the heart
How can you improve office indoor air quality?
1. Develop an IAQ plan for your office
You can’t know the air you breathe if you don’t monitor it. So the first step is to install an IoT device that monitors indoor air quality, like the Nanoenvi IAQ developed by ENVIRA. a powerful device that monitors CO, CO2, VOCS, PM2.5, PM10 and environmental variables like temperature, pressure, and humidity.
2. Take action: make decisions to improve IAQ
Nanoenvi IAQ can teach building occupants to adopt new habits to create healthier air quality in workspaces. For example: if CO2 levels are so high (~1000) it’s a good decision to open the windows. Provide natural ventilation and a greater flow of fresh outdoor air will have the greatest effect on employees.
3. Other things you can do
With a good HVAC maintenance, you can improve indoor air quality. Remember HVAC systems need regular maintenance, including changing filters.
COVID-19 and indoor air quality
In this context of the new normal in which we are all learning to live with the virus, companies are returning to the workplace. How do we prepare for this return?
Building managers must bet on the installation of technological devices that will allow them to guarantee and preserve the health of their employees when they return to the office. Better air quality clearly leads to better work performance.
ENVIRA has developed a gadget to prevent COVID-19, a set-up of the Nanoenvi IAQ, which shows you the airborne virus index. With this information, you can know if the indoor air quality is helping or impeding the survival of harmful viruses.