Despite major advances in vaccination, the United States remains far from being completely free from the pandemic. According to Vin Gupta, professor at the University of Washington and director of health at Amazon, it is still necessary to wait about five months to resume the long-awaited safety and normalization of activities.
However, Gupta explains that to make all workspaces safer, healthier, and more productive, it is necessary to apply major changes, which begin by improving ventilation and air filtration systems.
"Go back 100 years. The big problem that was killing people was communicable diseases that were transmitted from feces to the mouth. 100 years later, our problem is how we air our spaces, and the changes cannot be postponed for too long, "says Gupta.
Are strategies being adopted to bring about the changes that are needed?
Before the pandemic, many strategies to improve indoor air quality were postponed again and again. Now, the current situation obliges us to take up abandoned plans, with a more rigorous approach that allows preserving the health of people.
"Before the coronavirus pandemic, interior designers and human resources professionals who decide what offices look like paid little attention to ventilation, an invisible variable that determines whether people can think well at their desk and whether coughs, colds, and other respiratory diseases will circulate within a company, "explains Dr. Joseph Allen, Associate professor at Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health and director of Harvard’s Healthy Buildings program.
For Dr. Allen, good indoor air quality should be taken as an indispensable benefit, rather than a simple advantage. At a time when people spend 90% of their lives indoors, it is necessary to adopt measures that guarantee public welfare in various spaces, keeping the air clean for as long as possible.
The commitment of Amazon
On Amazon, they know very well how clean air can benefit them. According to Gupta, "improvements to the HVAC system are not only cost-effective when measured by long-term productivity gains, but are also good for workforce retention, a major problem in a tight labor market and health and safety concerns among many Americans about returning to physical workplaces".
Despite criticism for its working conditions, Amazon continues to work to ensure health care programs for its employees, and also for most of the US workforce, through the Amazon Care service. According to Gupta, investing in occupational health and safety can never be seen as a waste of time, and he adds that organizations of the future must have a health expert on board, to help tackle the most common health problems and keep all workspaces free of harmful particles.