Tracking health-performance indicators to boost performance and economic value

Why Health-Performance Tracking Matters

By the time you reach 60, you will have spent 20 years of your adult life at work. In fact, most of the world’s population (six out of ten) spend one-third of their adult life at work, contributing actively to the development of the well-being of themselves, their families and of society. This means that the people who design, build, and maintain our workplaces can have a major impact on our health, general happiness and quality of life. Creating great work experiences that make the world-of-work work better for people will make the world work better, too.

Business owners should recognize the risks that workplace stress and discomfort can pose. It can take a serious toll on many aspects of people’s lives, including their well-being and productivity, and ultimately on the business bottom line. A recent survey in Switzerland (completed before the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic were felt) revealed that more than half of all employees in Switzerland feel emotionally exhausted, while almost a third suffer from stress, up from a quarter when the study began in 2014 (Swissinfo). The impact of stress was especially pressing for younger people, between the ages of 16 and 24, who will make up the majority of the workforce in just a few years. The monitoring group Health Promotion Switzerland found also that approximately 7.6 billion Swiss francs are lost every year in Switzerland due to stress at workplaces.

These feelings of distress can well be exacerbated during periods of uncertainty, such as what the world is experiencing with the COVID-19 outbreak. Stress and anxiety triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and other strong emotions can be overwhelming, and workplace stress can lead to burnout. Today’s business has a responsibility to itself and employees to look after its most expensive asset by making the work environment as healthy and nurturing as possible. While the “green” building movement has been initiated in an effort to tackle the energy and sustainability issues in the building sector, the new “healthy” building trend focuses on the most important (and expensive) asset of any business: its people.

Our Approach to Ensure Employees Health

Oxygen at Work offers business owners and building operators an opportunity to focus on the importance of a healthy workspace and provides the infrastructure to deal effectively with occupational health problems through real-time monitoring and control of healthcare measures at their workplaces. Relationships between indoor office environments and the well-being of employees are complex; many indoor stressors can exert their (short-term and/or long-term) effects additively or through complex interactions. Among indoor stressors and ergonomic problems that cause job dissatisfaction and affect employees’ well-being, indoor environmental aspects (e.g., thermal satisfaction, lighting aspects, humidity, noise and vibration, radiation, chemical compounds, and particulates) are of the highest association with employees’ health, productivity, and their overall comfort.

Thanks to IoT sensor technology and data-driven health-performance indices, Oxygen at Work provides a digital platform for continuous monitoring and control of dynamic health, well-being, and comfort levels via an interactive user-friendly dashboard (Figure 1). The frontend of the indoor environmental quality (IEQ) analytics web service is a real-time dashboard that serves as the portal for users to remotely monitor and control their IEQ measurements and calculated building’s health performance metrics. The platform facilitates successfully synthesizing data and generating insights from complex sensing environments at various spatial and temporal resolutions. The rating tools developed by Oxygen at Work, in accordance with national and international standards (such as ISO 7730, EN 15251, and ASHRAE 62.1), have been designed to be more pragmatic than standards, enabling adaptive alerts and alarms to ensure occupants’ health and comfort.

Figure 1: A mock-up of Oxygen at Work’s IEQ analytics dashboard, as seen by the end-users of the service.

As part of a plant-based interior design solution, Oxygen at Work’s IoT sensor devices have been deployed in more than 70 organizations and industry bodies in Switzerland, which enabled business leaders to successfully monitor and maintain optimal indoor environmental conditions boosting the quality and performance in the working life (Figure 2) and thus the achievement of economic objectives. The sensor network was primarily designed for monitoring indoor air quality, but manifold practical end-uses and benefits building portfolio managers looking toward occupant-centric indices of building health performance. These metrics not only offer evidence of demonstrable IEQ improvements but also guide decision-makers to act upon them to further improve their workplaces.

Figure 2: IEQ and building’s health performance improvements perceived by employees upon the implementation of Oxygen at Work’s solution.