By: Brian Packard
COVID-19 has forced businesses to adapt and change on the fly like never before. Employees across every industry started working from home, restaurants pivoted to take-out orders, and fitness studios closed their doors. What started as a two-week shutdown to flatten the curve has turned into a year that has dramatically changed the way businesses run.
With the vaccine rollout accelerating and restrictions lifting, businesses are preparing for the ‘new normal.’ But in this new COVID-era, not everyone feels comfortable returning to work or entering a business. Experts expect this will continue for years as the country strives for herd immunity.
Business owners want to ensure employees and customers feel comfortable, but find themselves struggling with the ‘how.’ They have to rethink what defines a ‘clean’ environment and ask tough questions, including ‘What else can I do to instill a sense of confidence when reopening?’
Changing the Meaning of “Business as Usual”
Many people want to return to their normal routines, which means going back to work or supporting their favorite small business. However, they want to be assured that business owners are taking necessary precautions to help mitigate the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, including providing a clean environment.
The ability to work from home has made employers reconsider a typical in-person 9-5 work week, and restaurants have seen the benefits of increasing takeout orders and utilizing outdoor dining. To increase confidence as businesses reopen, many are adjusting traditional work schedules, incorporating contactless technology, and making necessary changes to improve airflow and quality.
Ever-changing information and guidance from government organizations – regarding surface cleaning, mask-wearing, social distancing, installing barriers, and improving ventilation – have helped businesses navigate these challenging times. Providing a game plan for businesses and educating employees on potential exposure risks have become fundamental measures to reduce the spread of infections and it’s likely that these measures are here to stay.
Improving Indoor Air Quality
The pandemic has put a spotlight on the importance of indoor air quality and the viral airborne transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, especially as evidence suggests the virus stays airborne longer than previously thought. As such, experts are advocating for proper ventilation indoors as a necessary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 – including introducing outdoor air inside, equipping HVAC systems with better filters, and adding portable air purification devices.
Whether or not an air purifier can successfully capture viruses depends on the technology and its ability to capture the smallest airborne particles. Many devices are capable of capturing viruses and other types of air pollution, and when used with other safety measures, air filtration can be a vital part of reducing the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 indoors.
To help pay for these improvements, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides funding to small businesses that continue to struggle. In very specific terms, the program recognizes the importance of improving indoor air quality, and those that qualify can update HVAC systems or invest in certain portable air purifiers to help employees and customers feel more comfortable entering an establishment.
Portable air purification devices have become popular purchases for both personal and business settings. Various industries have realized the impact improving indoor air quality can have as part of their COVID-19 reopening strategies, as well as the positive response seen from employees and customers. Alongside other preventative measures, air purification technology can provide visible evidence of a business’s commitment to the well-being of its customers and workers.
Slowly but surely, offices and businesses will fill up again and people will return to their pre-pandemic routine. While it’s possible that things will never truly return to “normal,” many of the protocols put into place over the last year – including improving indoor air quality – are here to stay. Investing in air quality provides much more than cleaner air. It brings forth an enormous sense of emotional confidence that a business is doing all it can to provide a cleaner environment for all who enter.