Office building design ideas that are key to the health of workers in the Covid era

Employees are working on laptop computers at the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, which opened in 2018. This is one of the companies that focuses on office air quality as part of the building design criteria.

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Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, employees, managers and senior executives have scrutinized what makes the workspace healthy. The pandemic has flooded office spaces with disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer dispensers, and socially distant signs.

Professor Joseph Allen of Harvard University states that there is one safety measure that offices cannot miss. Healthy workspaces rely primarily on employee breathing, and studies dating back several years before the pandemic found that improved ventilation and air quality could lead to improved cognitive function and work productivity. It is shown.

A study conducted by Allen’s Healthy Buildings program at the TH Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University found that there was no threshold on how increased ventilation had a positive impact on worker cognitive function. rice field.

“There were more than 350 workers around the world and we tracked them for a year. There was an air quality sensor on their desk,” said Allen, associate professor and director of the program.

In this study, employees regularly ping through the app and perform these cognitive function tests while at their desks to investigate the real-time impact of air quality on the performance of office workers around the world. To do.

What Allen and others have found in COGfx research should change the way companies around the world think about productivity investment.

Salesforce, Boston Properties, and Armstrong World Industries are one of the US companies that have worked with Allen as part of a COGfx survey or in collaboration with Allen’s healthy building consultancy team. Nine foundations To improve the air quality of buildings, “what science teaches us is important for human health, well-being and productivity,” Allen says.

“The big challenge in our time is how to ventilate,” said Vin Gupta, Amazon’s Chief Medical Officer. Lecture at the recent CNBC @ Work Summit See the findings of researchers at Harvard University.

Salesforce focuses on the air in employee education

For many companies, the ability to attract and retain talent depends on the level of safety attention and comfort in a particular work environment.

Although the San Francisco Salesforce Tower, which opened in 2018, has a high environmental score, it’s important to ensure that employees understand that design and approach go beyond energy considerations and directly lead to health. I think.

Salesforce We participated in the COGfx survey and installed air quality sensors on our desks to monitor employee cognitive function.

Regular indoor air quality testing is part of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) certification given to green buildings by the US Green Building Council.

“I don’t see much of this, so I think it’s very important to tell the employees. They don’t know. I see LEED plaques on the wall. I don’t know what goes into LEED certification. “. Amanda von Almen, Head of Sustainable Building Environment for Salesforce.

Sean Lustre, Vice President of Real Estate and Work Services at Salesforce, said: “This is a behavioral change for many employees.”

Workers’Flight to Quality’Bet on Ventilation

Boston PropertiesReal estate investment trust companies that own office buildings nationwide, including New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC, have worked with Allen to improve the indoor air quality of their workspaces.

Ben Myers, Vice President of Sustainability at Boston Properties, said: “There is an indoor air quality monitor looking at CO2 levels, which is the result of Dr. Joe Allen’s research. He made us aware of the effects of higher CO2 levels on cognitive performance.”

Boston Properties is betting that in the reality of the new work caused by Covid, premiums will be placed on factors, including health, as more commercial tenants become more noisy about the real estate they pay for.

“What we see is an escape to quality,” Myers said. “High quality office space outperforms low quality office space in terms of tenant rent and retention …. These high quality buildings are expected to have high quality indoor air. I am. ”

While productivity measurements can be difficult, companies can measure air quality in real time and set up regular tests for pollutants in their workspaces, according to Myers.

“Boston Properties has set minimum test requirements twice a year so that the building’s air quality parameters match the CO2 concentration, and to ensure that the building is in good condition, such as mold. We regularly test for air pollutants, “about the best you can do,” Myers said.

Work is a living laboratory for our health

Victor Grizzle, President and Chief Executive Officer of the company, said: Armstrong World Industries, A company that designs and manufactures commercial and residential ceiling, wall and suspension system solutions. “And that’s not all. Once the building has been improved, it’s important to look at carbon dioxide levels, humidity, temperature, etc. to measure space performance. These factors can affect productivity. It turned out to be sexual. “Grizzle said.

Armstrong World Industries has created a space called Living Lab on a corporate campus. In this space, teams can explore, test and experience different solutions to improve air control and contribute to cleaner air.

“Logically and intuitively, in a space like the Living Lab, with optimal sound, lighting, cleanliness, stunning views, biocompatible design elements, and exceptional air quality with comfortable furniture. People will simply feel better, “Grizzle said. .. “When we feel good, we think, process, and generally function at best, and attitude, we feel more optimistic and enthusiastic. It’s about productivity. That’s why we connect. “

Speak recently CNBC Labor Enforcement Council At the summit, Allen told the leader of human resources, “Healthy buildings must be at the forefront of defense. The problem is that we have been ventilating buildings, homes, offices and schools for decades. That’s what we’ve been doing …. We designed them. For 40 years, we closed them the wrong way and cut off the air supply. “

“You have to expect clean air in your office, just as clean water comes out of a tap. That’s the first thing. Be aware that a paradigm shift is underway. It won’t go away, “says Allen.

— —Special by Mikaela Cohen on

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Office building design ideas that are key to the health of workers in the Covid era

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