With many of us now choosing to work from home, the onus has been placed on businesses to improve working environments if they want staff to come into the workplace more often than not. Companies of all sizes need to think about the little things that they can do to have a positive impact on the way staff are working to prioritize and protect their well-being.
One of the most often overlooked issues in this area is air quality and the choice or design of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system in your building. Breathing is one of the most fundamental aspects of human existence—so it’s no surprise that the air we breathe has a significant impact on us. It is important, then, for businesses to do everything they can to purify the indoor air in work settings, to preserve the health and wellness of their employees.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what your business can do to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) in the workplace and why this is a good idea.
Understanding Air Quality
It is important to first understand exactly what we mean by air quality here. In an environmental context, we view air quality by the level of pollutants contained within it. However, an office environment has different considerations compared to the outdoors. There is a greater focus on maintaining fresh air within a limited working space, occupied by numerous co-workers in any one period of time.
When we talk about IAQ, we are referring to a number of factors that can affect your working environment. Pollution in the air is a serious issue, but it is generally more common in a workplace setting to have problems with factors such as humidity levels, dust particles, purity, and even the temperature of the air.
Principally, air quality in this context is determined by the type of HVAC system in your work premises, so this is a good starting point for review.
Designing Your Workplace HVAC Systems
When it comes to improving the air quality of any workplace, facilities, or office site, the air conditioning or HVAC system you opt for is key. Your first thoughts will be choosing the correct HVAC system for your site and ensuring it will run the most efficiently for the space you are ventilating. Installing your HVAC in the right location and implementing an ongoing service plan to safeguard the elements of the system are crucial to achieving good IAQ.
Here are some important factors to consider when designing and installing the right HVAC system for your unique workplace setting:
- Building size and occupancy. The size of your building and the number of occupants will affect the size and type of HVAC system needed. It’s important to choose a system that can effectively circulate air throughout the entire building and maintain a comfortable temperature for all occupants.
- Ventilation requirements. Proper ventilation is essential for maintaining good IAQ. The amount of outside air required for ventilation will also depend on the size and use of the building.
- Filtration. Effective air filtration is crucial for removing pollutants and allergens from the air. When designing your system, consider the type of filters that will be used and how often they will be replaced.
- Energy efficiency. The HVAC system you choose will account for a large proportion of the energy used in your entire commercial premise. So, having an energy-efficient HVAC system can help reduce operating costs and improve IAQ. It’s no good having a great HVAC system if you never turn it on because you’re worried about it using too much energy. When designing your system, consider options such as variable-speed motors, energy-efficient compressors, and programmable thermostats.
Optimizing and Maintaining Your HVAC System
Having your HVAC system in place is important—but it is also crucial to keep it in great shape. There are several key strategies you can use to optimize and maintain your system.
Regular maintenance is crucial for ensuring that your HVAC system is operating effectively and efficiently. This includes checking refrigerant levels and inspecting ductwork for leaks. By keeping your system well maintained, you can prevent breakdowns and ensure that your system is running at peak performance. It’s a great idea to schedule regular maintenance checks with a qualified HVAC technician to ensure that your system is functioning properly.
Cleaning filters is another important aspect of HVAC system maintenance. Air filters should be cleaned or replaced regularly to ensure that they are effectively removing pollutants and allergens from the air. Dirty filters can restrict airflow and reduce the effectiveness of your system. By keeping your filters clean, you can improve IAQ and prevent system breakdowns.
Business Benefits of Great Air Quality
Achieving better IAQ can have numerous benefits for your business, not only for your employees, but also for customers, suppliers, and even your company’s bottom line. Here are a few of the most important advantages:
- Improved employee health and productivity. Poor IAQ can lead to health problems, including respiratory issues, allergies, and headaches, which can impact employee productivity and attendance. By improving IAQ, you can help create a healthier work environment, reducing the likelihood of employee illness and absenteeism.
- Enhanced customer experience. At businesses that rely on customer visits, such as shops, restaurants, and hotels, IAQ can impact the customer experience. A comfortable and pleasant environment can encourage customers to stay longer, spend more money, and return in the future.
- Compliance with regulations. Depending on your industry and location, there may be regulations that require businesses to maintain a certain level of IAQ. By meeting these regulations, you can avoid fines and legal issues.
- Energy efficiency and cost savings. Improving IAQ can also lead to energy efficiency and cost savings. By optimizing your HVAC system, you can reduce energy consumption and lower utility bills. Additionally, a well-maintained system is less likely to experience breakdowns and require costly repairs.
Ultimately, when you focus on achieving higher IAQ in your business premises, it can result in benefits for staff productivity and well-being, as well as potentially save you money. So, improving IAQ is something that makes sense across your business.
Chester Avey has over a decade of experience in business growth management and cybersecurity. He enjoys sharing his knowledge with other like-minded professionals through his writing. You can connect with Chester by following him on Twitter @ChesterAvey