Contributed by ABM.

Employee health and indoor air quality (IAQ) have long been linked, but a recent Harvard study demonstrates the impact of improved ventilation on creativity and cognitive processes. One best practice for improved IAQ is keeping particulates from entering your building. Properly installed entryway mats keep contaminants from entering your workspace. That introduces efficiency, reducing the work needed elsewhere to take those particles out of the air. Green cleaning can also keep a building’s air cleaner, but special attention should be paid to the chemical content, to ensure the promise of the “green” label means fewer volatile organic compounds.

Heating and cooling systems play a key role protecting indoor air quality. Preventive HVAC maintenance is a must for open offices, keeping particle control and ventilation reliable. To ensure HVAC maintenance plays its part, consider these questions:  

  • Are HVAC systems inspected regularly?
  • Are reservoirs and ductwork checked for microbial contaminants?
  • Are air filters placed correctly?

Improperly seated air filters reduce efficiency and indoor air quality. According to the Centers for Disease Control, poor maintenance of HVAC systems is one of the most common causes of poor indoor air quality. A preventative program stays ahead of these issues. To encourage transparency, HVAC programs should provide clear records of inspections and maintenance.

Hygiene is key to a good cleaning program, even more so for open offices. Hand sanitizer should be accessible wherever employees share equipment — like conference rooms, lobby areas — any shared space without access to soap and water. Increased attention to touch points will also improve hand hygiene overall and prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria. Combine microfiber cloths and disinfectants to effectively remove viruses and kill bacteria. It’s common to list door handles and countertops, but humans tend to touch everything — the backs of chairs, white boards, and coffee machines need to be disinfected, especially with the increased traffic of an open office.

David Roe is senior vice president of technology and manufacturing at ABM.