Thinking about how to improve the air quality of your workplace might be relatively low down on the long to-do list that appears when you form a company, but trust us on this one: tackling the topic of air quality early on will pay off later down the line.
Particularly if you’re based in an urban area, pollution will continue to pose a huge threat to your and your employees’ health. People who work in large towns and cities are exposed to damaging air quality day after day, and without direct efforts to improve this quality, their long-term wellbeing can be badly impacted.
When you form a company you have a responsibility to those you employ and to yourself, too, to keep your workplace safe and in check. To help you tackle this head-on, we’ve put together a few simple ideas. Read on to find out how you can improve the air quality in your workplace, and promote an environment where everyone is able to breathe easy.
The risks of having bad air quality
All too often, newly formed companies concentrate only on the short-term factors that affect the wellbeing of their staff, rather than looking at how to improve employee health in the long-term. Your employees spend such a huge amount of time at work, it’s inevitable that their health is going to be affected by the environment you have placed them in. Of course, as a small, fledgling startup you may be limited in terms of the choice of premises available. That said, it’s important to bear in mind the cost of settling for somewhere where pollution is a real problem.
Consider the number of working days lost to minor illnesses that can be linked to bad air quality in the workplace. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that in 2016, a staggering 137.3 million working days were lost in the UK. Any steps taken to improve the workplace environment, and to lower the number of sick days taken, can only be a positive thing for the running of your company.
It’s easy enough to assume that your workplace isn’t affected too much by poor air quality – perhaps the sources of pollution are not immediately obvious. In fact, there are hidden pollutants that can combine to form a potentially dangerous threat to employee health. For example, an office located close to a busy road or in a built-up urban environment may be letting in pollution from vehicle emissions, simply by opening the windows. Other seemingly innocent and everyday things can also contribute to poor air quality and harmful pollutants, for instance:
Even some types of printer paper
Reducing the number of sick days taken each year isn’t the only benefit that cleaner air can bring: it can also help to make staff happier. In a recent study, it was found that over 60% of respondents felt that workplace happiness was more important than salary levels, which shows that putting effort into improving all aspects of your workplace and showing you care about your team is something that could have real value to your business and your employees.
Fortunately for us all, there are a few simple and cost-effective ways to improve air quality in the workplace.
1. Ensuring that your office or building is cleaned professionally and regularly can go a long way, as it removes the opportunity for bacteria and germs to build up to dangerous levels. A quick look at a work surface may show a clean appearance from an aesthetic perspective, but this requires dedicated maintenance to ensure that no potential causes for concern are lurking right where employees gather and work.
2. Plants are another easy way to improve air quality, and are widely acknowledged as a way to help reduce the level of pollution in a room. They also have the added benefit of being pleasant to look at and appreciated by staff. Having plants around is hugely advisable in any workplace. They’ll take in carbon dioxide whilst giving out oxygen – a very handy exchange!
3. Good ventilation is key. This tends to be a constant inclusion in the various employment laws held by the majority of countries which detail the bare minimum employers must do to ensure suitable surroundings for their workforce. Should your business be found to be in breach of this legislation and a member of your staff be taken ill, there is a slim but possible chance you could be held legally responsible, if it can be proved that their condition is linked to a poor quality working environment.
So, while it might not seem like the most immediate thing to invest in for your business, being inactive in the face of problems like poor air quality is likely to incur far more expenses both financially and health-wise in the long run. Carbon monoxide in particular is already an unseen menace that every firm knows to be aware of, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Clean air that is suitable for extended human consumption cannot be put aside, and is integral for financial success at any level. So don’t ignore it – make sure you have a plan to improve the air quality in your workplace before you get your new business up and running.
Justin Fox writes on behalf of Envirotec, a Buckinghamshire-based engineering firm providing air management solutions to businesses of all sizes. Check them out if you want total control over the quality of air within your premises.
Limited company formation is simple and straightforward with our easy to read company formation guides at hand. For more advice on setting up and running a successful business, including going green at work, check out some of the other articles in our help centre.