Thu 29 Apr 2021

Ventilation in the Workplace: Productivity and Health

As more and more people return to the work environment, creating effective practices to combat poor ventilation has become paramount. Improving indoor ventilation not only increases employee productivity but it creates safer and healthier workplaces. To frame our thinking, we focus on the office environment and the steps to take to promote employee health.


In this article you will learn: 

  • How poor ventilation impacts employees 
  • What is indoor air quality (IAQ) 
  • About Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) 
  • Natural ventilation tips 
  • How to use your AC correctly 
  • What tech Hitachi Cooling & Heating offers

What is Ventilation?  


Before diving into ventilation, how do you define? Simply put, it is when fresh outdoor air is introduced to an indoor space to help dilute the airborne contaminants that have built up over time.  


We’ve all experienced it, that feeling of hot and heavy air building up, draining you of your energy and hindering your ability to concentrate. This feeling is one of the most recognisable signs that there is a ventilation issue which needs to be addressed.  


Proper ventilation of indoor spaces has become a top priority for many, especially in the workplace, where balancing productivity, comfort and health requires diligent attention.


How Does Poor Ventilation Impact Employees? 


Poor ventilation is the catalyst for a variety of other ambient issues which impact employee health. Without proper ventilation, humidity, CO2, germs and indoor pollution sources build up. These different factors are often referred to together under the umbrella of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). When IAQ decreases, the risk of symptoms and illnesses increase. These include, among others:  

  • Fatigue and lack of concentration 
  • Headaches, hypersensitivity and allergies 
  • Nausea and dizziness 
  • Rashes 
  • Increased stress 
  • Dry throat and dry skin (low humidity can "dry” air out) 
  • Colds and flus (high humidity can lead to mold and bacterial growth) 

As you can see, becoming hot and bothered isn’t the only concern with poor IAQ in the workplace. A study by Ambius found 40% of US workers suffered illnesses as a result of poor air quality in the workplace. When a building is affecting its occupants in this manner, it’s called Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). The syndrome is generally characterized by irritated eyes, nose and throat and tiredness but can comprise of the others listed.  


Read more about how indoor air quality affects and its causes here.  


How to improve Office Ventilation


Focus on Sick Building Syndrome 


SBS can occur in one room, zone or in a whole building, depending on how these spaces are used. It is used to describe the health (and comfort) complaints that spending time in a given room can have on a person. SBS is generally linked to poor ventilation and indoor air quality, but lighting and sound also contribute to the symptoms it generates.  


A person suffering from Sick Building Syndrome will find that when they are away from the space that their health and state improves.  


To decrease the risk of employees suffering from SBS whilst at work it’s important to maintain and improve indoor air quality, and proper ventilation is key.  


How to improve office building indoor air quality


Here are some of the ways to boost the ventilation in the workplace to help keep productivity at an optimal level and maintain a healthier office environment.  


Natural Ventilation Tips


  1. Opening windows doesn’t have to mean working in a blustery office. Part-opened windows dotted throughout the room or zone are enough to ensure adequate air flow without causing uncomfortable drafts. 
  2. Cross-ventilation, can be an ideal way to naturally ventilate rooms and zones at the same time. For example, create a through draft by opening a window, propping the door open (unless it is a fire door) and opening a window in another part of the office.  
  3. Air the office space completely to dilute the charged indoor environment and renew the air. This is best done during a moment in the day when occupancy is low, like lunchtime for example.  


Using your Air Conditioner Correctly


In workplaces that rely on air conditioning to cool and heat spaces, it is recommended to open the windows and doors regularly to ensure efficient air renewal or, if available, using the systems ventilation fan to bring fresh air into the room.   


Ventilation technology for the office


Hitachi Cooling & Heating Ventilation Technology 


Our Ventilation lineup features units that can used alone, or it can be incorporated into an Hitachi indoor unit via the fresh-air port. Also, we have products that can be integrated into your ventilation units and air conditioning systems to maintain and improve indoor air quality. 


Active KPI - This unit (seen above) is designed so that it pre-treats the outside air before it goes into circulation, delivering fresh, clean air into the indoor environment, and adjusted to the desired temperature. 


Econofresh – Our air renewal unit cools spaces naturally using the Free Cooling mode, using outside air to cool indoor spaces. Not only does this product supply indoor spaces with fresh air, it also helps save energy.


CO2 Sensor - When integrated, this optional sensor monitors and manages CO2 levels, automatically adjusting the unit's operation to avoid the environment becoming charged and unpleasant.  


If you’re interested in learning more about these products and about how Hitachi Cooling & Heating can help you improve ventilation and indoor air quality, visit the range here.  


Check for availability of all products in your region 
*1 Wasabi Air Purifying Filter tested by University Putra Malaysia. 
*2 Wasabi Air Purifying Filter tested by International Medical University Malaysia. 
*3 Wasabi Air Purifying Filter tested by Nanopac Testing Lab. 
*4 Stainless Steel System tested by the Hitachi Environmental Test Laboratory. 


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