August 11, 2021

Return To Work Strategies: Technologies That Transform Your Workplace Into a “Healthy Building”

A “healthy building” is a workplace environment that prioritizes employees’ physical and mental health. As we head back into our shared workspaces, it’s important to note what return-to-work strategies your team needs to ensure that all workers feel comfortable doing so. 

As you make changes to the workplace, make sure you communicate them with your team. By keeping everyone in loop, you will help make the following return-to-work strategies a much smoother process.

Natural/Cost-Effective “Technologies”

Studies show adults over the age of 18 spend an average of four hours per day on their phones. Combine that with eight hours of screen time and poor lighting in the workplace and your employees run the risk of headaches, eye strain, blurred vision, and fatigue. One return-to-work strategy to build a healthy workplace is to invest in natural lighting and decor. This can mean anything from keeping blinds up and/or windows open during working hours, investing in biophilic design, and adding outdoor working areas. 

If you can’t build out an entire outdoor section, try adding a lunch table outside of the workplace doors. You can also prioritize leaving the workplace environment for lunches and other breaks. Biophilic design is the use of greenery, natural analogues, and dedicated break areas to warm up the workplace environment. This might look like a green wall, various plants around the space, and natural lighting. For instance, UV lighting is a great way to introduce natural technology to the workplace. Clinics and hospitals around the world utilize UV light to kill pathogens like tuberculosis. UV light can also be effective at inactivating viruses, such as COVID-19 and influenza, but only when properly implemented.

After implementing natural light, some companies have seen anywhere from a 2% to 15% increase in team productivity. While 2% may not seem like much of a difference, it can add up. For example, Overstock installed smart windows in their headquarters to optimize natural daylight. With an annual payroll of over $100 million, a 2% increase in productivity translates to $2 million saved. Natural light, UV light, and outdoor working areas are an ideal investment now and for long-term employee health and wellness.

Air-Cleaning Technology and New HVAC

Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) can cause headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. These symptoms have a direct impact on employee health and performance. Improving your workplace’s air quality with air-cleaning technology and/or a new HVAC system is a great way to achieve “healthy building” status. How can you tell if your workplace has poor indoor air quality? Consider poor ventilation, trouble controlling temperature, high or low humidity, recent remodeling, and nearby activities that may impact air flow to your workplace. 

Formcraft’s in-house design and construction team can build safety features into your new or existing floor plans, such as HVAC system updates and air filtration improvements. Read more about our construction team and how we can get started on your project today!

Smart Building and Sanitization Technologies

In addition to natural light and air quality, companies are now investing in smart technology for a healthy building. This can look like high-tech kitchen appliances (voice-activated coffee makers and sink faucets do exist), sanitization stations, and keyless or touchless door entries. However, these smart building technologies require a little more thought than other return-to-work strategies. What appliances and furniture does your team use the most? How can you improve sanitization of those products?

Sanitization stations are an easy way to prioritize health in the workplace. Offer hand sanitizer in various meeting-based work areas, keep windows open for better air circulation, and make sure soap is always available in the restrooms.  While return-to-work strategies are a team effort for a healthy building, having one responsible person will keep the ball rolling. Consider expanding the Office Manager role or promote a dedicated staff member to lead the company’s shared spaces. 

Communicate Safety Standards

Let your employees know that you value their safety. You can do this by sending a company-wide email or press release about your office updates. A company-wide announcement will keep your employees in the loop, give them the information to feel comfortable returning to work, and add anticipation and excitement for the future of work.

Return-to-work strategies are a team investment. Everyone needs to be on board for these strategies to work because it will help unify the workplace environment for improved collaboration and productivity. Make sure you communicate the safety standards and why they are so important in transforming your workplace into a “healthy building.” Therefore, your team will trust you to have their best interest in mind. In conclusion, clearly communicating these changes will benefit everyone’s well-being.