Posted on 27 August 2020

Poor indoor climate leads to lower productivity

A team of engineers at Purdue University in Indiana spent a month studying an office to find out if the air was polluted by the people who worked there. What was the result? People and their behaviour in a room have a major influence on the quality of the air, even with ventilation. Breath lingered in the air even after employees left the room. On average we spend 90 percent of our time indoors, but the air inside is 10 to 20 times more polluted than outside. This can lead to respiratory problems in employees, also known as sick building syndrome. In addition, workers were seen as having reduced concentration and productivity. I recognize these results in various offices we visit. When we measure the air quality, CO2 values are sometimes measured so high, that for the people working there it would be as if they have had two (and sometimes much more ..!) glasses of wine.

Complain, complain, not work

The Leesman Index examines what employees consider important in their work and how they value the various factors that influence their work. This index consists of about 40 elements, 15 of which are about a comfortable working environment. Much of the satisfaction with the working environment has to do with being able to influence comfort levels yourself, from turning on ventilation, dimming the light to increasing the heating.

Worst case scenario

But employees do not complain for nothing. This is once again evident from the prototype employee of the future that the study created. The researchers collected and studied a huge number of papers on all the bad effects of long-term office work and applied this to a doll created by the researchers called Emma. The doll has characteristics of pale skin due to too many years of artificial light and the poor air quality has caused swollen sinuses and red eyes as well as more nose and ear hair. It is clear what needs to be done, build smart.

What can building owners do?

If employees influence the indoor climate, dissatisfaction will decrease. They can adjust heat and air quality so that air is cleaner and contains more oxygen. Sound comfort is also important. By having an overview of the different places in the building and the associated values of light, air quality, temperature, and sound, you can determine where you sit. For example, Microsoft Netherlands has divided its office into 4 types of rooms; quiet areas, a social hub, places to work together and places that are completely open to customers. In this way, employees can find a place that suits their work at the time and within the comfort that suits them. As a building owner it is therefore worthwhile to make the infrastructure in such a way that employees have more information and thus control over their workplace comfort.

Monitoring and making smart decisions

But we are not there yet. Data is called the new gold for a reason. By collecting data on the use of the building with sensors, better decisions can be made for the future. For example, “those very hip seats that seemed so promising are not used at all”. Would you maintain it? Or on Friday there is never anyone in a meeting room before 10:00. Does it still make sense to always heat it on Friday from 7:00 am? Such insights help a) save energy, b) more effectively divide the space and c) collect information for building and furnishing the next office. In the future, machine learning will be linked to this so that the building automatically adapts to its use. The building will then anticipate patterns of use to optimize comfort, health, and energy. Or the app sends you a notification that it is better to sit in another fresh room.

In this way, employees can start the Friday afternoon drinks fresh, without feeling that they already have had two (or more) glasses of wine through the poorly ventilated room in which they have worked. Cheers to a fresh indoor climate!

bGrid an ever-evolving smart building solution 

We will keep your building continually updated with the latest data software updates with a constant strive to advance the accuracy of gathering data through AI and machine learning algorithms.  

 An example of the flexible adaption to the clients’ needs was in the recent development of the bGrid COVID Office Safety Solution (bCOSS). Measuring air quality and indoor climate is key in tackling the spread of COVID in the workplace. That’s why bCOSS was developed to offer valuable data insights to building owners and occupants through combined measurement of not only building occupancy but also CO2 and humidity. These insights can help owners, operators, and occupiers in adhering physical distancing and in ensuring safe air quality, thus to help combat the spread of corona in the workplace.  

Contact our team here to discuss the integration of bGrid in your building.

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