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Why ESG is more than just 'nice to have'

31 January 2023

Safe, hygienic, sustainable workplaces are key to worker wellbeing, says Erik Boyter, CEO for Windowmaster

Guaranteeing employee wellbeing in the workplace has become a key priority for both business and industry worldwide, particularly with the increasing public awareness around mental and physical health-related issues.

Putting this in context, in the UK, HSE estimate that a staggering 17 million working days were lost in 2021 to stress and anxiety . It’s a worrying figure, and there’s no doubt this lost time has had a significant financial impact on the national economy. It’s therefore unsurprising that pressure is growing on organisations to reduce this unacceptable number and fulfil their duty of care to protect employees both physically and mentally.  

With an uptick in hybrid working since the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s now imperative for bosses to place staff wellbeing at the top of the agenda. Key to this is specifying safe, hygienic and sustainable workspaces to entice people into regular office attendance and increase productivity levels. 

Meeting standards

With increasingly rigorous health and safety standards and regulations being introduced, it’s of no surprise to see businesses looking to demonstrate compliance in the face of possible financial, legal and reputational damage.

Yet, while guaranteeing safe and healthy interiors for employees is crucial for many reasons, in the same vein, any tactic must align with the ESG strategy’s overall goals. With strict Net Zero targets and green aspirations in play, there’s a fine line between falling in or out of compliance. 

Creating healthy workspaces must be done in a way that produces low levels of embodied and operational carbon. Other issues, such as diversity, must also be considered in a proactive strategy. In the long run, this will help businesses stay competitive and keep pace with the ever-changing social and cultural norms, even though initial costs might be extensive.

Air quality

The issue of poor indoor air quality has plagued the interiors of office spaces for far too long. It’s also an issue that falls underneath ‘S’in ‘ESG’ and should be one of the first things on the agenda to correct. 

A poorly ventilated interior with high amounts of CO2 or CO1 can cause headaches and rashes while aggravating significant underlying health issues. Furthermore, if left unchecked, this can lead to an increased risk of having a stroke. Ultimately, the impact of poor indoor air quality (IAQ) can lead to long-term reputational damage, with workers being driven out of the office due to poor conditions, which can also have financial and legal ramifications. 

Mitigating this issue to protect employee health can be easily and effectively achieved with natural ventilation. This low-impact, energy-efficient system uses smart technology to control the flow of clean air into and out of a building, rather than recycling it. This sustainable approach can integrate with all the aspects of any ESG strategy and, at its core, enhances working conditions inside commercial spaces.

Incorporating natural ventilation brings advantages for everyone involved. By taking far less time to install than a mechanical counterpart and not requiring regular maintenance, business owners will quickly register value for money and ROI. What's more, when paired with other holistic approaches, such as biophilic elements, interiors will be imbued with a natural ambience that can relieve stress and support mental recovery, transforming the office into a home for workers.

Improving workspaces for employees has been made even easier, with a new guide for corporations to discover sustainable means of alleviating poor IAQ and improving work-life for all. This is due, in part, to the UN's framework for its overarching "Sustainable development" goals, specifically goal "03" relating to health and wellbeing. 

Ultimately, natural ventilation represents the best value for money when it comes to quickly, but efficaciously, deliver a successful ESG strategy, tackling it in the correct manner, and leaving no excuses in ensuring a safe environment to breathe easier.

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