As companies prepare to ask employees to return to offices, many workers will be mindful of how the workplace contributes to the spread of germs, even though they may have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

The link between office spaces and health and wellbeing is an inextricable one that has been brought into sharper focus thanks to the pandemic. A host of surveys in recent months have emphasised that, post-pandemic, workers are likely to be more productive if their employer places a greater focus on quality, hygiene and cleanliness, and helps to promote well-being. People would be willing to switch jobs in favour of having flexible contracts and healthier working environments.

For buildings with mechanical ventilation systems, the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) recommends starting the system at least an hour before a building is in use and keeping it running for at least an hour at the end of the day, to clean the air, so to speak. As for demand-controlled ventilation systems, the recommendation is to lower the CO2 set point in order to maximise the flow of outside air.

CIBSE also advises that air should not be recirculated between spaces, meeting rooms and breakout zones that are usually occupied by different sets of people throughout any given working day.

The challenge in regard to that is that many workplaces, particularly in older office blocks that are in need of an upgrade, will probably not have been designed with air circulation in mind. It’s for this reason that Dr Noukhez Ahmed, director and co-founder of Barnsley-based Twin Dynamics, believes businesses need better information in order to make informed decisions about how to make office ventilation as effective as possible.

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