Could a Better Environment Give You a Competitive Edge?

Improved productivity is the goal of virtually every business in the modern world. New technology, more flexible schedules and changes to the workplace are all deployed with the aim of improving the bottom line. But in this effort to get more from staff, how many businesses consider the impact of the indoor environment?

Last month, Harvard research showed a clear correlation between the decision-making ability of office workers and the quality of the air they breathe. Effective air conditioning and ventilation keeps CO2 levels low and helps occupants sleep and work better.

“Consider the fact that most of us spend about 90% of our time indoors and 90% of the costs associated with a building are due to the people inside it, and you can see why focusing on the air you breathe could turn your building into your strongest human resource tool,” the team behind the research argues.

Yet how many businesses achieve that focus?

Emphasising Air Quality

Advice for improving productivity often focuses on office layout, communication tools and snacks. Meeting schedules may be mentioned, as may the importance of good lighting. But air quality is frequently overlooked.

For interior fit-out contractors, focusing on an area that competitors overlook is an ideal way to win business and there is a growing body of research to support greater emphasis on air quality. Along with the Harvard study, a recent Sodexo report highlighted air quality as one of the built environment factors from which workers expect high standards.

And for facilities managers, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the International Facility Management Association produced a report emphasising workplace productivity and wellbeing as “dominant themes over the next decade”. It argues anyone responsible for a company’s buildings needs to recognise the link between the built environment and the workforce, and the effect this ultimately has on output and the bottom line.

Making the Business Case

Such reports are vital because even where a connection is somewhat obvious, making a strong business case is a challenge. Speaking at the Workplace Trends conference in London this week, vice-president of the International WELL Building Standard Institute Sarah Welton provided some useful context.

Indoor pollutant concentrations can be two to five times higher than outdoors when ventilation is inadequate, she said, while better air quality leads to productivity improvements of 8% to 11%. “We've forgotten that we primarily construct buildings to protect and support our health,” Welton told delegates.

Whether you’re advising clients as a contractor or a facilities manager trying to get the most from your resources, 361 Degrees can help you create an environment that protects and supports health, and improves the bottom line. Contact us to learn more about our air conditioning and ventilation solutions.

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