According to experts, indoor air quality is very important for the health, wellbeing, and comfort of the occupants of a building. Regrettably, some indoor environments, especially ones that have people trooping in every day, have levels of pollutants much higher than those found outside. These indoor pollutants can cause both short and long-term illnesses, poor productivity, more sick days, and, in some cases, even death.
It is becoming more crucial for co-working spaces to analyze the air quality of their space, identify potential pollutants common in these workspaces, mitigate air quality factors, and improve space air quality. Indoor air is maintained through HVAC systems that re-circulate the air internally, taking only a small amount of fresh air from the outside.
This makes it a carrier of virus- or bacteria-laden aerosol and it also re-circulates via droplets to every other place, making it a potential health hazard. Aside from the obvious imminent threat of COVID-19, unhealthy air also creates other life-threatening health menaces.
Tips on How to Maintain Indoor Air Quality in Coworking Spaces
Although there isn’t a solution to all potential air contaminants, there are certain ways to significantly improve overall air quality and prevent indoor air pollution. To maintain your co-working space indoor air quality, here are tips to consider.
Table of Content
- Observe Proper Ventilation
- Assess Building Ventilation System Design and Maintenance
- Build Easy to Clean Workplaces
- Monitor Moisture Control
- Manage High Touch and High Population Areas
- Add Specialized Filtration Equipment
- Set Occupant Policies
- Keep Your Workspace Clean
- Eliminate Chemically-Based Cleaning Products
- Isolate Indoor Air Pollutant Sources
Observe Proper Ventilation
When possible, you should turn off your HVAC system and open the windows to let in fresh outdoor air. You should also make sure there aren’t any storage boxes, furniture, or other possible obstructions in front of your air vents, as this will impact air circulation.
You should also consider adding indoor plants to your office. Aside from how refreshing they can be to see, they also help to reduce carbon dioxide levels and release fresh oxygen into the air.
Assess Building Ventilation System Design and Maintenance
Have it in mind that your building’s HVAC and ventilation system will be among the key contributors to indoor air cleanliness. Owing to that, you must coordinate with the building management and other tenants to put together a solid plan for assessing HVAC system quality or improving the systems if air pollutants become a concern.
Note that you may need to align with other parties to set up regular HVAC assessments. Regular assessments will guarantee that your system was designed and installed correctly.
Build Easy to Clean Workplaces
Note that common surfaces like floors, tabletops, doorknobs, and light switches can be easily infested with germs. Therefore, it is always recommended you design these places to be easy to clean and sanitize. To do these, consider some of these options;
- Consider using laminate flooring or luxury vinyl tiles instead of wall-to-wall carpeting in offices.
- Ensure to seal the seams between windows, floors, countertops, and walls to reduce hiding places for germs.
- Do away with old and redundant furniture and get new ones that can be easily cleaned and sanitized
- You shouldn’t install any resources that cannot be easily moved for monthly or quarterly cleaning.
- Ensure to put together a proper system of marking places that are sanitized or are free to be used by members and workers
Monitor Moisture Control
You must monitor the moisture and humidity level in occupied spaces because biological contaminants can grow and flourish in places with moisture and dirt. Also note that if humidity levels are too low, then your members may experience dry and irritated eyes, sinus issues, and irritated throat.
Consider using a humidifier or a dehumidifier depending on your air quality needs. Other factors adding to moisture levels include monitoring water-producing appliances, like refrigerators and ventilation equipment, and dumping out drain pans from humidifiers collecting water.
Manage High Touch and High Population Areas
For a vibrant co-working space, here are critical measures to help manage common areas and high touch surfaces:
- Limit the number of people or members in areas with low outdoor ventilation
- To do away with an airborne virus in the floors above common occupied spaces, leverage ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI)
- Utilize transparent shields or similar physical barriers to segregate employees and members if social distancing is not possible
- Cut off and mark chairs and standing areas that can be used in common areas and space them properly to ensure social distancing
- Always check to verify that exhausts are functional in all common areas, especially restrooms
- Stagger shifts, meetings, and break times to reduce the number of employees assembling in common areas like break rooms, conference halls, and parking lots.
Add Specialized Filtration Equipment
If you feel or notice that the indoor air quality of your co-working space is being affected by uncontrollable gases, chemical pollutants, or viruses, then you should consider using specifically designed equipment that can help clean the air. Note that a properly designed air purification solution can:
- Do away with harmful particulates from the air
- Eradicate virus particles
- Kill mold
- Remove 100% (at 0.01 micron) of most viruses using HEPA filters
- Increase ventilation
Set Occupant Policies
Most of the indoor air pollutants in a co-working space will come from your members and workers. Although this might seem natural, but limiting the number of contaminants you and your members bring will only help maintain the air quality of your co-working space. Owing to that, ensure to put together policies around cleanliness. You should also have a schedule in place to dispose of garbage quickly.
Do not forget to have a smoking policy in place, coupled with policies around vapes or gasoline-powered devices. Other policies, like those mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or based on the initiatives of the EPA and NIOSH’s Guide to Indoor Air Quality, can also help to direct you.
Keep Your Workspace Clean
It is very vital that you clean up messes and spills right away, and address leaks as soon as possible. This will mean less dust, mold, and possible allergens that could spread through the air. Overall building health plays an important role here. From maintaining cleanliness to avoiding outside particulate and germs from entering, all the efforts lead to making a perfect work environment.
Eliminate Chemically-Based Cleaning Products
Most cleaning products are filled with chemical mixtures that when used, can institute respiratory distress and, in severe cases of repetitive exposure, cancer. This is more prevalent for scented solutions.
Some of these cleaners tend to contain volatile organic compounds and other carcinogens. These toxins are more like those released by diesel fuel fumes. Consider using eco-friendly cleaning products that do not release harsh chemical compounds into the air.
Isolate Indoor Air Pollutant Sources
Note that a co-working space will surely have numerous internal sources of air pollution. For instance, rooms containing printers and copiers might emit ozone, resulting in respiratory diseases. Bathrooms are also very good spots for mold and mildew infestations. Mold spores and toxins can also institute numerous types of allergies and asthma.
Also, note that closets containing cleaning products might emit toxic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). To maintain the indoor air quality of your co-working, ensure to segregate these spaces from the remaining office space and ensure that your ventilation system functions properly.