• ARBS chair, Tony Arnel (Credit: ARBS)
    ARBS chair, Tony Arnel (Credit: ARBS)

ARBS board chair, Tony Arnel, explains how HVAC is the new competitive differentiator in a hybrid world of work.

Humans inhale about 20,000 times a day and around 90 per cent of those breaths are taken indoors.

We all know air quality matters, but it took a pandemic to elevate the issue in the minds of office workers. People now know all too well that viral particles can circulate through the air to make us sick.

It’s no surprise, then, that wellbeing is now one of the biggest boxes that employers must tick to attract and retain top talent, especially in a hybrid working world.

Just one recent research report from PwC, which was developed to help employers tackle the Great Resignation,  suggests 22 per cent of employees prioritise health and wellbeing above all other workplace benefits, including remuneration.

Scientists established a strong link between air quality, productivity and performance long before the pandemic. But the robust body of knowledge continues to grow.

Just one piece of fresh research led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the United States has found poor office air quality can have “acute” impacts in employees’ cognitive function, including response times and ability to focus.

Another recent research project, undertaken by Texas A&M University School of Public Health, has found that air quality inside our homes may not stack up against air quality inside office buildings. Researchers found fine particulate matter concentrations in homes were significantly higher than in offices and well above the standards set for healthy work environments.

These pieces of research suggest air quality has a big part to play in the new employee value proposition – and of the value proposition that landlords offer to their tenants. As corporations make the shift to permanent hybrid working, whether they will want less space is not certain. What is certain is that they’ll want better quality, healthier space. HVAC specialists can support this shift in three simple steps:

  1.       Set a clear baseline. An independent assessment, such as a WELL rating or NABERS Indoor Environment rating, gives your building occupants the big picture of not only indoor air quality, but other comfort factors like lighting, temperature and acoustics.
  2.       Measure, monitor and share. Measure and monitor air quality to identify areas for improvement – but be sure to share the data you collect with building customers to demonstrate a long-term commitment to healthy workplaces.
  3.       Sell the benefits of best-in-breed. A growing body of empirical evidence tells us high-performance ventilation, filtration and humidity systems not only reduce the spread of pathogens that make us sick, but also help people work at peak productivity and performance.

Wellbeing strategies are meaningless unless they are delivered in workplaces with high-quality indoor environments. So let’s set aside the yoga rooms and gym memberships and mindfulness courses for a moment, because HVAC can be the competitive differentiator in a hybrid, healthy workplace.

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