According to the U.S. Census, approximately 5% of workers in the U.S. worked from home in 2017 (which equates to approximately 8 million people). In 2018 Indeed.com published a study with data showing that the Tampa metro area is the 2nd most popular metro area in the United States for remote or “work from home” positions. (only behind Atlanta, GA). Now in March 2020 many employers in Florida are mandating that employees work from home due to the COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic.
The success of any business relies heavily on the health, productivity, and happiness of employees. Commercial heating and air conditioning (AC) plays a big part in home office productivity especially in the Tampa Bay area. As the Florida temperatures heat up this spring and summer, employees working from home will be spending more time indoors to avoid the outside heat.
The Employee Happiness Factor
Some of the ways to increase employee satisfaction in a home office environment is to keep your employees comfortable, productive and healthy. These factors are largely influenced by the efficiency of an AC system.
Remote employees are equipped to do their job well when their AC unit is keeping the home office cool and air clean. On the flip side, studies show that bad AC systems and practices – including poor indoor temperatures, air quality and ventilation – lead to lower productivity from employees who work from home. Obviously, increased employee sick days negatively impact performance and productivity1.
To understand if an AC system is negatively impacting your business and bottom line, let’s take a look at some of the causes and effects. This article will also give you tips for what to watch out for, and how you can proactively manage the AC risks and circumvent indoor air pollution in a home office environment.
What Causes Bad AC and Air Circulation?
Back in the 1970s, the increasing cost of energy led to a change in U.S. building practices, making buildings more airtight and energy efficient2. Unfortunately, this policy change also led to fewer guidelines around air conditioning / HVAC systems.
Now more than 50 years later, many homeowners (and/or business owners) still don’t fully understand how their AC system, indoor air quality and circulation work together to impact their home office environment.
There are several factors that contribute:
- Lack of regular HVAC maintenance
- Outdated AC systems
- Leaky ducts
- Dirty air filters
- Dust and mold in AC coils
- Muggy or humid weather conditions
- Inadequate air flow
- Blocked vents
- Incorrect sizing and / or placement of return air vents / grills
- Too much direct sun / not enough window shade
- Excessive heat from non-LED lights, electronics and appliances
- Minimal trees and plants outside the house / home office to provide shade
How Does AC Affect Home Office Productivity?
In light of this complex issue, a Harvard University study sought to show the correlation between poor indoor air quality and a healthy work environment. Researchers found that by negatively adjusting the temperature, humidity levels and air ventilation, their workers developed “sick building syndrome” symptoms (eye irritation, headaches, coughing and chest tightness). Consequently, these employees experienced a lapse in productivity and decision-making3.
At the end of the study, Harvard researchers estimated that if businesses better controlled and improved their HVAC system controls and air quality, they could see an increase of $6,500 per employee, per year (via better employee productivity). With that type of savings and improvement, new AC systems pay for themselves over the lifetime of the equipment4. In addition, for homeowners with a newer HVAC system, the study serves as a reminder to properly maintain your home office AC system on a regular basis.
Is Your Home Office AC System / Unit Running Properly?
It’s easy to see why quality AC systems and air circulation create safe, productive work environments. But how do you know if your AC unit is running properly?
While some signs of AC repairs or replacement are less noticeable, there are some obvious ones to look out for:
- Your AC unit won’t turn on
- The system is blowing warm air
- The thermostat does not reach the set temperature
- There’s a loud noise or vibration when your AC unit turns on or runs
- You recently noticed a pool of water around the AC unit or drain line
- Ice or heavy condensation are on the AC coils
- The fan motor or compressor isn’t running
- You have noticed a recent increase in sick days / illnesses
If you notice any of these factors, contact Air Care to discover if AC maintenance, repair or replacement is the right fit for your home office and budget.
Looking for a Licensed AC Company in Clearwater?
At Air Care, our HVAC technicians understand what it takes to keep your office comfortable, clean and productive. We’ve worked with Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco County homeowners for nearly 40 years.
Turn to Air Care to help with all of your central heating and cooling needs.
We have done business with your company for a long time and again you did not disappoint. Robert and Joey did a good job on my AC repairs. Thank you for coming out on short notice to fix our air conditioning.
– George P.
 Harvard Business Review: Research Shows Stale Office Air Is Making You Less Productive
 ASHRE: The Standards for Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality
 Environmental Health Perspectives: A Controlled Exposure Study of Green and Conventional Office Environments
 The Business Journals: Fresh air improves productivity and your bottom line