Nowadays, numerous office environments are being struck by what is known as “sick building syndrome” or SBS for short. It occurs when the air inside an office buildings is trapped due to tightly sealed doors and windows. If the air conditioning and venting systems are not of the up-to-date quality, the sealed air quality worsens, leading to various health and concentration issues, causing lapses in judgment and poor performance. Furthermore, agitation and uncomfortableness become regular, affecting the inter-office relationships. In the following text, we lay out the most common issues in hopes of shedding some light on the importance of keeping good air quality in the workplace.
Everyone who’s ever worked in an office has at least once had difficulties in performing daily tasks, due to poor air quality. Most commonly, people will feel stifling, as if they cannot take in enough air. This happens when the level of carbon-dioxide (CO2) is too high. It is produced by the occupants, released with every exhale. Without proper ventilation to purify the air, CO2 builds up, replacing fresh air, and people experience slower response times and poor performance. To prevent this, measure CO2 levels frequently, and keep them at 600ppm (parts per million), as anything above 800ppm is bound to cause performance issues and decision making.
The way air quality in the workplace plays into this, is that most common allergens, such as dust mites, mold spores, cockroach debris, pollen, animal dander, can easily be found in the building, or brought in by the occupants. If one of them has a cat, they will certainly bring in microscopic particles that will be transported around the building via air. The usual allergic reactions are sneezing, itchy throat, skin rash, and irritated eyes, but they will undoubtedly affect your workers’ comfortableness in the office. To avoid this, install proper air purifiers and ventilation, and often check for insect debris and possible mold developing.
Another airborne problem so easily circulated around your workplace are any viral diseases like the flu, seasonal viruses, and so on. You shouldn’t rely on people knowing exactly when they are going to be sick and ask for sick leave because, by the time they actually recognize the symptoms as something to be treated, it will be too late. Even those who don’t get sick can still be carriers. Air circulation is vital here, as it will prevent the spread of germs around your office, and possibly put half of your able-bodied staff “out of commission.”
There are other, less severe, yet still obstructive ways in which poor air quality affects employees. They can experience migraines, sinus congestions, dry/scratchy throats and even dizziness. To avoid this from becoming a serious problem, you need to set aside financing for maintenance, then plan out how often they’re going to be conducted: AC checks, cleaning, maintenance, replacement, and so on. There are plenty businesses to choose from, like Climacool, for example, whom you can contact and seek advice on making a yearly maintenance plan with them.
This is a less health-related issue, but a prominent one nonetheless. Unpleasant odors can come from various sources: the air conditioning itself, outside traffic, mold problems, the proximity of an office kitchen, and even bodily odor. All of these can prove to be distracting as much as loud typing sounds or talking when focus is highly needed. And the last cause mentioned can prove to be the most ungrateful one to approach, as people will rarely point accusatory fingers, but can turn to spreading all kinds of information. To prevent unpleasant situations and ensure optimal functionality in your office, provide an infographic with rules as to bringing in food, personal hygiene and even brands and amounts of perfumes worn.
Be wise about your AC and ventilation choices before you move your business into a new building. See if there is anything that needs to be changed or adapted to your needs. Currently, your business may be small, but if you plan an expansion, there will be new employees with potentially differing needs. Use this opportunity to ask them personally what they feel would make them most comfortable, and make them aware of the possible health issues. Poor air quality in an office is far from a simple “stuffiness” problem and needs to be dealt with before it gets a chance to evolve into a larger issue.