A Small Business Owner’s Guide to Indoor Air Quality
If you own a small business, chances are you run your company out of a dedicated office space or store. It’s comfortable, practical, and aesthetically pleasing. But is it safe? What if the very air you, your staff, and your customers are breathing is causing health and productivity issues? Read on to learn why indoor air quality is important for your business.
What Impacts Indoor Air Quality?
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A variety of pollutants and factors can affect your office’s indoor air quality (IAQ). These include:
- A lack of ventilation.
- High or low humidity levels.
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in adhesives, furniture, carpet, faux wood, pesticides, cleaners, and more.
- Contaminants such as dust, bacteria, mold, smoke, and pollen.
These can be caused by high moisture levels, a poorly maintained HVAC system, construction or renovations, activities within the building, blocked airflow, chemical use, cleaning supplies, and more.
Air Quality’s Effects on Your Business
Poor IAQ can affect the health, comfort, and productivity of both your customers and your employees. It can cause physical signs such as headaches, fatigue, irritated eyes or throat, and allergy symptoms. Older individuals and those who suffer from respiratory conditions such as asthma are at particular risk. Plus, viral and bacterial contaminants can be infectious.
Poor IAQ can even contribute to sick building syndrome, in which the bulk of your employees feel sick for no obvious reason. They might show symptoms such as coughing, congestion, itching, fatigue, cold and flu signs, and more. These issues and complaints typically go away once workers leave the building.
Air that’s noticeably too warm or too cold, too moist or too dry, stuffy, or has an odor can impact people’s comfort levels and lower customer satisfaction. Poor IAQ can also affect your staff’s productivity. Under these conditions, people tend to have a harder time concentrating, a shorter attention span and reduced efficiency. They’re also more likely to miss work days. So in a sense, your office’s air quality could be costing you money.
How to Improve IAQ
Fortunately, you can take steps to improve your air quality and work environment. These include:
- Hiring a commercial cleaner for your office and encouraging them to use nonchemical cleaning products as much as possible.
- Making sure air vents and return grilles aren’t blocked by furniture or equipment.
- Having an experienced contractor service and/or repair your HVAC system.
- Instituting a no-smoking policy.
- Storing and disposing of food and trash properly to prevent pest infestations that require chemicals and pesticides to resolve.
- Cleaning water spills and reporting leaks immediately to avoid creating a moist environment. Moisture not only affects humidity levels but also provides a breeding ground for harmful microorganisms.
- Not using office products that have chemicals or odors associated with them.
- Following OSHA standards on ventilation and air contaminants in the workplace.
Boost customer retention and employee health and productivity by making sure your business’s indoor air quality is up to par. Do so by avoiding pollutants and contaminants, promoting good ventilation, and having your HVAC system maintained regularly.