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Corona's game-changer: Healthy office now a necessity

It is the game-changer of the corona crisis: Healthy offices are now a must-have, not a nice-to-have, for building owners and employers.
The health of indoor workplaces is a hot topic today, thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic and employers' desire to bring their employees back to the office after so many have worked remotely for more than two years. That's what Joanna Frank, founding president and CEO of the Center for Active Design, said in a recent interview  with US publication REJournals. CfAD administers Fitwel, one of the leading standards for healthy buildings.

That the return of employees to offices is a tricky issue was recently demonstrated in an article in Het Financieele Dagblad. Large employers look at their empty offices and struggle: how do I get my employees back?

Joanna Frank says in the interview in REJournals that employers and building owners need to invest in ways to improve the health of indoor office spaces, especially if they want to get employees back to their meeting rooms, cubicles and desks. Actually demonstrating that the building is ESG-proof is important: 'People now demand that their companies can demonstrate how they promote and protect their health,' Frank said. Before COVID we didn't see people asking for a healthier working environment. That has now changed. That's a game changer. Before COVID we knew how to create healthy office spaces. We had a huge amount of evidence on how to do it. The difference now is that workers are demanding it, which is driving companies to investigate the possibilities.'

And workers want evidence that companies are taking steps to promote their health, Frank said. It is no longer enough for companies to say they are taking measures to improve indoor air quality, for example. Nowadays, they have to show their employees actual statistics and test results that prove their claims are true.

'It has gone from health being a nice-to-have before COVID to a must-have today,' Frank said. 'Building owners used to think of measures for healthy buildings only after they had taken care of everything else. But now owners can lose their Class A tenants to other buildings that show how they promote health and well-being.'