Create a Healthy and Fresh Work Environment: Guide to Optimizing the Indoor Climate at the Office

Create a Healthy and Fresh Work Environment: Guide to Optimizing the Indoor Climate at the Office

Eight hours. That's how long most of us spend at our workplace every day.

If you sit in front of the screen for all those eight hours without getting fresh air, it has a significant effect on your well-being – probably more than you think.

In this article, we explain how poor indoor climate affects you, but also what you can do to improve the indoor climate at the office.

The Importance of a Good Indoor Climate at the Office

Flexible working hours, performance appraisals, employee events, work-life balance – mental work environment is becoming a natural focus point for companies today.

This also applies to the physical environment, where the design should meet the needs of the employees with adjustable desks, access to fitness, and health insurance.

But how is the indoor climate?

Joseph Allen, a lecturer at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, among other indoor climate researchers, points out that we have ignored the importance of indoor climate for our well-being for too long.

But now we are slowly starting to breathe new life into the indoor climate as one of the most important factors for our health, learning, and performance.

In an article in the Danish newspaper Weekendavisen, he states:

"For the first time, I think many people realize that the way we design and operate our buildings – our homes, our schools, our offices – has a massive impact on our health. It's a paradigm shift and possibly one of the greatest opportunities to improve public health in this century."

 

What a Poor Indoor Climate Means for Your Health

A poor indoor climate at the workplace, where you spend many hours of your day, can according to the Danish Health Authority be bad news for your health.

It can give you a range of symptoms and illnesses if you work in a poor indoor climate every day.

The symptoms can range from mild to severe:

  • Headaches
  • Eye and mucous membrane irritation
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Asthma
  • Allergic reactions

According to Danish studies, the problems particularly increase in open-plan offices.

In severe cases, a poor indoor climate at the office can mean that an employee has to leave the workplace to take care of their health.

Work Environment and Indoor Climate: What Is a Good Indoor Climate at the Office?

A good indoor climate at the office is not only crucial for your well-being but also for both your ability and desire to work.

The indoor climate is influenced by:

  • Drafts and temperature
  • Air (ventilation, pollution, number of people, etc.)
  • Humidity
  • Cleaning
  • Light (natural and artificial)
  • Sound

According to Joseph Allen (responsible for Harvard's Healthy Buildings Program), there is a lot to gain for both health and productivity if these conditions are optimal in the workplace.

Scores in cognitive tests increase by 101%, studies from Harvard show.

Temperature and Drafts

According to the Danish Working Environment Authority, a good indoor climate in an office has a temperature of 20-22 °C. If you work in an office with sedentary work or normal working conditions, the temperature must not exceed 25 °C.

However, indoor climate problems often arise if the temperature reaches 23 °C.

Low temperatures of 19 °C and below also have a negative consequence – not just for the indoor climate but also for your performance.

Air Quality

The air quality in an office depends on several factors:

  • CO2 level
  • Dust
  • Humidity
  • Off-gassing

To create a good indoor climate at the office, it is particularly important to ensure that the CO2 level does not become too high.

"CO2 is the most commonly used indicator of poor air quality in rooms where the major source of pollution is the load from individuals (people)," explains indoor climate expert Nanna Sørensen.

We exhale CO2 – and when we are several people gathered for a long time as in an office, the air quality decreases.

There are also other polluting conditions, such as off-gassing from furniture and dust in the air, but often we ourselves are the main culprit of poor air quality.

Humidity

The right humidity is also crucial for a good indoor climate.

The humidity must neither be too high nor too low. It depends on the season – during the summer, the air's humidity is naturally higher, and vice versa in winter.

Cleaning

Wherever we are, dust will swirl around in the air. This also applies to the workplace, where the air can be filled with pollen, microorganisms, and paper dust, among other things.

This places demands on good cleaning at the office – and both the method and frequency of cleaning must suit the premises.

It's always a good idea to use environmentally friendly cleaning products free of chlorine, perfume, and other substances that can increase the risk of allergies.

Light

The lighting in the workplace also affects the indoor climate. The Danish Working Environment Authority highlights sufficient (comfortable) light for work as an important factor for a good indoor climate.

There will usually be sufficient daylight if the window area at eye level corresponds to at least 10% of the floor area or if skylights cover at least 7%.

At the same time, there should be a view from the windows.

Sound

A good indoor climate at the office also depends on the right sound conditions. This means that there should be good acoustics in the workplace.

This requires good soundproofing and no noise disturbances – for example, from the street or from equipment.

If there are hard floors, ceilings, or walls in your workplace, it can create significant noise disturbances, especially if many people are gathered.

With acoustic panels, among other things, noise disturbances can be relatively easily reduced.

How to Create a Good Indoor Climate at the Office

What should you do to get the best indoor climate at the office so that all employees thrive and perform optimally?

It's simple: Ventilation.

According to the WHO and the Danish Health Authority, it is the best way to achieve healthy air quality and thus a good indoor climate.

They recommend cross-ventilation 3 times a day for 5-10 minutes. But in an office with potentially many people, it can be difficult to know when the air is fresh and new.

Fortunately, Birdie helps you with that.

When the CO2 level becomes too high and the air quality poor, it loses its breath and collapses dead.

That's a clear signal that the windows need to be wide open and fresh air needs to flow in. When the air quality is good again, Birdie flies back to life.

That way, you and your colleagues can always ensure the best conditions for a good indoor climate.

Why Birdie Is a Good Office Pet

There are several other good reasons to let Birdie fly into your office and help improve the indoor climate:

  • Concentration and productivity increase
  • Health and well-being improve
  • Earnings increase with fresh employees
  • You get an indoor climate-friendly office pet

Other Strategies for Improving the Indoor Climate:

  • Temperature control and the importance of ergonomic conditions
  • The importance of natural light and ergonomic lighting
  • Noise reduction and acoustic solutions
  • Plants for improving the indoor climate

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