Improved IAQ, Improved Employee WELL-BEING

Employee wellness programs have long been growing in popularity, having become almost standard for larger corporations. According to Zippia, 83% of companies with 200 or more employees offer wellness programs and benefits such as free gym memberships, rewards, incentives and more.

While they’re a great perk for employees, these wellness programs tend to focus on surface-level benefits and don’t take steps to address deeper, more holistic well-being for employees.

What is workplace well-being?

Workplace well-being extends beyond corporate wellness programs to address all aspects of worklife, ranging from the quality and safety of a work environment to how employees actually feel about the work they do. Companies incorporate well-being into their corporate structure through programs like flexible scheduling, enhanced return-to-work programs and a physical workplace that puts well-being at its center. Well-being used to be a “nice-to-have” for companies, if it was incorporated at all. Now, accelerated by COVID-19’s impact on the global workforce, employers carry a higher level of responsibility for their employees’ well-being.

Air is vital to well-being

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a critical part of workplace well-being that affects the physical health and performance of employees, but is usually not addressed in corporate wellness programs. Americans spend approximately 90% of their time indoors according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where the concentrations of some pollutants are often two-to-five times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.

According to a recent survey conducted by Fellowes, only 36% of employees describe the indoor air in their current workplace as “very clean.” Surveyed employees were at least somewhat concerned about contracting COVID-19 (73%), allergy symptoms (71%), contracting other viruses (68%), headaches (66%) and fatigue (65%) due to poor IAQ in their buildings.

A greater focus on well-being, like improving air quality in the workplace, can have immense benefits to employees as well as a company’s bottom line. Research has shown that when organizations support the well-being of their people, they can experience lower turnover and burnout, as well as greater employee engagement. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, cleaner indoor air is linked to increased cognition and productivity—plus, the protection against illness and pollutants can help reduce employee absenteeism.

Prioritizing workplace well-being, including investing in IAQ, can significantly increase a corporation’s stock value over time as well. A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine that analyzed stock values for a portfolio of companies that received high scores in a corporate health and wellness self-assessment found that they appreciated by 235%, compared with the S&P 500 Index appreciation of 159% over a six-year simulation period. Making these investments in well-being now, such as a proper IAQ and air purification programs, can have immense financial benefits for an organization down the road.

IAQ can also play a role in an organization’s environment, social and governance (ESG) efforts. Better air quality is closely interwoven within the ESG framework, as it can address environmental factors like climate change and pollution as well as improve employee health. Focusing investment on enhancing your organization’s IAQ is an ideal method to improve employee well-being in a way that also aligns with ESG standards.

 

Teachers want – and need – IAQ programs

All employees that work indoors can benefit from improved IAQ, but teachers in particular are a group significantly impacted by the quality of the air they breathe at work. Teachers work in high-occupancy classrooms that are often hotspots for the spread of illness, and normally do not have opportunities to be outdoors during the day. Unlike a typical office employee who may be able to work from home when they or their coworkers are sick, teachers and their students suffer greatly from absenteeism, which in turn contributes to learning loss.

With a young population under their care, teachers tend to be more concerned about IAQ than other workers. According to a survey of K-12 educators conducted by Fellowes, 98% of educators believe clean air should be a right for all students and employees, compared to 91% of surveyed office employees.

There is nearly universal agreement among teachers that IAQ is an important part of workplace well-being that must be addressed: 97% of teachers surveyed believe that clean air helps them perform their best work and has a direct impact on how students perform in the classroom. Unfortunately, just 37% of respondents agreed that their school is planning to make IAQ improvements in their classroom, even after the pandemic demonstrated how important clean air is to health and learning. In 2022, the CDC found that fewer than one-third of schools were using portable HEPA filtration systems in classrooms, lunchrooms and other high-risk areas.

Just like businesses see positive impacts on their employees and business success when they incorporate workplace well-being, teachers and their students can benefit from IAQ and other well-being efforts in their classrooms. The EPA reports that better IAQ is linked to higher student productivity,   improved test scores and lower absenteeism rates. School boards and districts should consider implementing air purification and other IAQ improvements not only to benefit the health and safety of students, but to also provide a better working environment for their staff that puts well-being first.

To learn more about the air purification solutions that can benefit your organization’s well-being, visit https://www.fellowes.com/us/en/air-purifiers/default.aspx

Fellowes Survey Reveals Teacher Opinions on Classroom Indoor Air Quality

Fellowes, with partnership of WeAreTeachers, conducted a survey of over 1,000 teachers regarding their perception of the air quality in their classrooms. The results show that teachers need and expect clean air not only for their own performance but of that of their students.

Because teachers work in high occupancy classrooms that are often hotspots for the spread of illness, 97% of agree that they can benefit significantly from the incorporation of IAQ into workplace well-being programs. Unfortunately, only 37% of teachers believe that their school is currently planning to make the necessary IAQ improvements to their classroom.

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Modular Walls: A Workspace Solution For Changing Construction Trends and Workforce Needs.

Office occupancy nationwide is at nearly 50% each week on average according to Kastle Systems, a leader in office keycard entry services. That figure represents a steady increase from a year ago, as more employees return to the office at least some of the time. But the return to in-person work doesn’t mean the same pre-pandemic office structure is ideal for these employees. Many have become accustomed to some aspects of remote work, and they prioritize different things from their office space than they did years ago.

According to a recent survey conducted by Fellowes Brands, employees prefer private spaces in the office over collaborative spaces: more than half (58%) of office workers surveyed said that private space was very important for them to do their best work, while only 32% said the same was true for collaborative spaces.

This data is a departure from the era of open concept offices that many businesses continue to use today, and is likely in part influenced by the era of remote work. Employees were given autonomy over their workspaces while working from home during the pandemic, and they have come to prioritize privacy and a level of control over their workspace.

With on-premises work back in the mix, businesses should align themselves with the changing priorities of their workforce to ensure that employees can perform their best work while in the office. Physical changes to the office must go beyond aesthetics to focus on the productivity and satisfaction of employees and the ability to adapt to their evolving needs.

The good news for businesses is that updating an office space does not require large-scale renovations or investing in new construction.

The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturing Association’s (BIFMA) “S&P Global Industry Outlook” reported that commercial construction is expected to drop by 15% in 2023. Design work on existing structures is also at a record high of 52%, signaling that businesses are increasingly opting to adapt their current spaces instead of investing in new construction. Additionally, lease terms have increased over the last 12 months, growing to 9.1 years on average, according to JLL’s “Office Outlook Q3 2022”—keeping more businesses locked into their current office spaces for the long haul.

With these trends in mind, businesses should look to adapt their current office space to ensure it provides a functional workplace that helps employees do their best work, while remaining cost-effective and adaptable to changes in future workplace trends. Modular walls are an excellent solution for businesses to upgrade existing office space to meet the changing needs of the American workforce, without the need for major renovations or new construction.

With on-premises work back in the mix, businesses should align themselves with the changing priorities of their workforce to ensure that employees can perform their best work while in the office. Physical changes to the office must go beyond aesthetics to focus on the productivity and satisfaction of employees and the ability to adapt to their evolving needs.

Why modular walls?

Modular walls offer a variety of benefits without the high cost and long lead time of renovations or new construction. Modular walls can:

  • Quickly create private work areas to address the new priorities for employees. With quick installation, modular walls can transform open office space into more private offices or quiet rooms that employees prefer.
  • Make versatile spaces that are more useful to the hybrid workforce. As more businesses adopt a hybrid work model, modular walls can be used to restructure existing space to meet the specific needs of your team. They can be used to create coworking spaces, smaller meeting rooms for reduced numbers, or quiet areas where an employee without an office can take time to do focused individual work.
  • Easily update and modernize existing workspaces to avoid high cost of constructing new buildings or large scale renovation. Modular walls make impactful upgrades to an office while minimizing installation time, with no large-scale renovation needed. The time savings of modular 3 wall installation over constructing new walls or a completely new office space are significant, which can be critical to keeping your business running smoothly as you redesign.
  • Install with less labor and construction waste than building permanent walls. Without the need to hire a large construction crew that will spend days or weeks building permanent walls and offices, modular walls save a significant amount of labor costs, disruptions and downtime for your business. Plus, the simple installation significantly reduces traditional construction waste, making modular walls a much more sustainable option.
  • Flexibly change over time with the size and needs of your workforce. Businesses can remove and relocate modular walls without demolition and with minimal impact on floors and ceilings. And it’s easy to change the clear glass walls of a meeting room to the solid walls of a private office, add new offices as your workforce expands, and even install new walls with different colors or finishes to reflect changes in your company’s branding.

The pandemic made it clear that workplace trends can change significantly, and in ways we can’t always predict. Modular walls are an excellent way to effectively upgrade your office space and meet the needs of your employees as they change, without the high cost or permanence of renovation or new construction. To learn more about the modular wall solutions available and the benefits they can provide your office space, visit Fellowes Brands.

New Survey Highlights Important of Privacy and Flexibility in Today’s Office Space

American office occupancy hit a post-pandemic high in mid-October according to Kastle Systems, as U.S. workers adapt to the new workplace trends and find a hybrid model that works for them. While workers may be back at their desks, their old workplace preferences may not be what they once were.

The increase in remote and hybrid work in the past few years has given many American office workers a chance to learn what they value in their workspace and the type of working environment that brings them the most success.

Fellowes Brands conducted a survey of American office workers that provided some insight into how offices can leverage workspace design to address the dynamic needs of their employees. Notably, the survey found that 58% of office workers said access to a private work area at their office is very important to producing their best work. Unfortunately, just 35% of respondents completely agree that their employers currently provide a workspace where they can concentrate and produce their best work.

Nearly half (45%) of survey respondents reported they continue to work in a hybrid model (working from home at least one day a week), which places in-person offices in competition with home offices and other remote working locations. The autonomy and flexibility that hybrid employees experience in their remote workspace is guiding their in-office workspace preferences: greater privacy and more adaptable work areas are paramount for an employee to feel they can do their best work.

So, how can employers address this deficit to ensure their workplace is one where employees want to work and can feel their most productive?

Forgo open floor plans and low-height cubicles in favor of modular office spaces that offer more privacy.

Because American workers prioritize private work areas twice as much as collaborative spaces, it’s critical that employers provide access to more private spaces that employees can use to focus. Adding more private work areas into a space doesn’t have to be a floor-to-ceiling renovation, either: Fellowes’ moveable wall solutions can transform an open floor plan into private spaces without major construction, and can adapt as the needs of your organization change over time.

Focus on flexibility.

According to the survey, most American workers desire flexibility in their desk setup (82%) and computer monitor setup (80%) to produce their best work. Provide a variety of desk and monitor solutions to fit the varying needs of your workforce, and communicate to employees that they should feel empowered to make their workspace work for them. Check out Fellowes’ desk and monitor arms for inspiration into how to offer a flexible space for employees when they’re in the office.

Get employee feedback – and apply it.

Just 24% of respondents completely agree that their employer cares about their input when setting up personal employee work areas. With such little confidence in their voice being heard, it’s not surprising that many employees may prefer a remote work setup where they can have greater autonomy. To understand your workforce’s changing needs, ask for feedback from your employees on a consistent basis, and prioritize your investments to be in line with what your workforce says will make them feel the most successful.

Creating a workspace where employees feel their best helps them get “in the zone” to do their best work, which translates to greater productivity for your organization. Small changes to your office space or individual workspaces can make a significant difference to an employees’ productivity. Contact Fellowes today to get started on building the ideal workspace for yo

Survey Reveals Employee Opinions on Workplace Indoor Air Quality

The push for cleaner indoor air in our workplaces has been led by public health researchers, national associations and the White House, which have all recognized the role employers, contractors and consultants can play in designing and improving workplaces for better indoor air quality (IAQ).

In observance of International Day of Clean Air on Sept. 7, Fellowes Brands sought the opinions of another group: employees who share the same air at work and also share many of the same concerns about IAQ’s effects on their health and work performance.

Americans spend 90% of their time indoors on average, according to Environmental Protection Agency data. Indoor concentrations of some pollutants are often two-to-five times higher than typical outdoor concentrations, making cleaner indoor air an important focus for businesses on International Day of Clean Air.

Fellowes Brands’ survey of 1,120 American workers who work on-site and indoors for their employer covered topics ranging from employees’ evaluations of their workplaces’ IAQ, their perceptions of their employers’ action toward improving IAQ, their specific health concerns surrounding IAQ at work and their belief in clean indoor air as a right for all employees.

Finding #1 – Only about 1 in 3 respondents called their workplace air “very clean.”
Just 36% of survey respondents described the quality of the indoor air at their workplace as “very clean,” despite 60% saying their employer is taking the necessary steps to provide clean indoor air in their workplace.

The disconnect between these two data points may indicate a need for additional education among employees to better understand and advocate for the specific IAQ improvement strategies that have been proven to work against viruses, bacteria, pollutants, allergens and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Very clean air is an attainable goal for all workplaces, with the right plan that includes air purification, HVAC improvements and better ventilation.

Finding #2 – The majority of respondents are concerned about the health consequences of poor IAQ.

COVID-19 and its variants remain top of mind for American workers, with 73% of respondents saying they were at least somewhat concerned about contracting the virus as a consequence of poor IAQ at work.

The majority of survey respondents also reported being at least somewhat concerned about the following additional consequences of poor IAQ in the workplace:

  • Allergy symptoms: 71%
  • Viruses other than COVID-19: 68%
  • Headaches: 66%
  • Fatigue: 65%

The onset of COVID-19 in 2020 increased public awareness of IAQ, a workplace health and safety issue that cannot be seen but has always been present. The importance of IAQ was elevated further during the last year, as employers that operated fully remote at the onset of the pandemic began to roll out hybrid work models that brought more people together to work in person, breathing the same air.

These results indicate that COVID-19 and its variants remain the top concern, but it’s clear that employees recognize the breadth of health concerns associated with poor IAQ.

Finding #3 – Employees think they’ll be more productive with clean indoor air, and they believe it should be a workplace right.

91% of respondents agree that clean indoor air helps them perform their best at work, while 88% believe clean indoor air should be a right for all employees. Their instincts are right.

Cleaner indoor air is also linked to increased cognition and productivity, according to research led by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Most important for employers, these data points represent the partnership employees expect with their employers. Employees expect clean air at work and believe it should be a right, but in return, they expect to deliver the best possible work and results for their employers.

The Solution – Improved IAQ through Air Purification
Air purification is one of the four key components of cleaner indoor air, according to a recent Lancet COVID-19 Commission report, and it is one of the most effective and fastest-to-install defenses against COVID-19 and other viruses that can quickly spread through workplaces.

Fellowes AeraMax Pro air purifiers have helped businesses provide safe and clean indoor environments for more than a decade, using a unique four-stage True HEPA filtration system that efficiently removes airborne contaminants from enclosed spaces.

Indoor air purification with H13 True HEPA filters can remove 99.95% of viruses, bacteria, pollutants, allergens and VOCs that lead to poor IAQ and the associated health risks. Improved IAQ also lowers risk of stroke, lung cancer, respiratory disease and other health concerns.

Fellowes AeraMax Pro units are always working to improve IAQ, deploying an array of patented EnviroSmart™ self-regulating sensors, which automatically monitor a room to provide on demand air purification.

It’s also important to provide transparency that air purifiers are working. Only Fellowes AeraMax Pro air purifiers feature Pureview™, a display that shows real-time updates on air quality and machine performance, providing occupants peace of mind that the air is clean.

The Bottom Line

American workers understand the health risks of poor IAQ and the benefits of working in very clean air, based on these survey results. Employers that invest in improving their IAQ with air purification will reap rewards with a healthier, happier and more productive workforce at a time of great competition for the best talent.

Fellowes Brands New Design And Experience Center in the Fulton Market District, Opening In Early 2023

We are excited to announce that we will open a new Design and Experience Center at 800 W. Fulton Ave., at the entrance to Chicago’s vibrant and design-focused Fulton Market District in early 2023.

The new 12,000 useable-square-foot center will serve as an interactive showroom and a destination where customers, designers and commercial real estate partners can collaborate with the Fellowes Brands team in a creative, energetic space that helps them solve their workplace needs.

The Fulton Market District location is a return home for Fellowes Brands, which was founded in a small office in downtown Chicago in 1917 and is now headquartered in nearby Itasca, Ill.

After a search that began in 2021, Fellowes Brands was attracted to and eventually selected the 800 W. Fulton Ave. location earlier this year to tap into the energy of the Fulton Market District and harness it to fuel the creative conversations and collaborations with customers and other partners at the Design and Experience
Center.

Fellowes Brands will be located on the 9th floor of a building that features training and conference spaces, a fitness center, coffee shop, restaurant and social spaces throughout, as well as at the penthouse and rooftop.

The building’s WELL Gold Certification optimizes health and productivity for all tenants, and it was designed for LEED Platinum Certification. Fellowes Brands recently kicked off the design process for the new Design and Experience Center, with the goal of creating a space that helps customers and partners in their design and selling process, while embodying Fellowes Brands’ continuous commitment to its core values that have helped the company thrive over 100 years: Family, Innovation, Quality and Care.

“Our new Design and Experience Center will be the central hub for our customers and partners to not just see our wide array of workplace products, but to get first-hand experience using them, in an invigorating environment built for creativity and collaboration,” said John Fellowes, fourth-generation CEO of Fellowes
Brands. “We’re returning to the city where Fellowes Brands got its start, and we’ve chosen to foster our continued growth by creating a brand experience in the heart of Fulton Market that demonstrates not only who we are, but where we are going.”

“As offices continue to reopen, our customers are looking to partner with us to inspire WorkLife that unleashes the human potential in everyone,” said Monica Lopez, Chief Market Officer for Fellowes Brands. “Employers want to build workplaces that elevate their teams — by designing collaborative, healthy spaces, where their employees can connect and work together safely on projects best done in person. Our new Design and
Experience Center is based on that same principle — that the best way to design a workplace is through the direct hands-on experience and opportunity for collaboration that our new center will offer to our customers and partners.”

Fellowes Brands Named on Forbes 2022 List of America’s Best Employers for a Second Consecutive Year

For a second consecutive year, Fellowes Brands has been recognized amongst the country’s top 40 midsized employers. This prestigious award is presented by Forbes and Statista Inc., the world-leading statistics portal and industry ranking provider.

The awards list was announced on February 10, 2022, and can be viewed on the Forbes website.

“To be named on the Forbes 2022 America’s Best Midsized Employers list for a second year is an exceptional honor. We are humbled Forbes and Statista has recognized us,” said Stacy Cano, Head of Global Human Resources for Fellowes Brands. “We’ve seen new challenges emerge with how work needs to be done and are so proud of the care and dedication our team members display daily to bring wellness, productivity, and inspiration to worklife.”

Forbes and Statista selected America’s Best Employers 2022 through an independent survey applied to a vast sample of approximately 60,000 American employees working for companies with more than 1,000 employees in America. Across 25 industry sectors, 1,000 employers have been awarded, 500 large employers and 500 midsize employers. The evaluation was based on direct and indirect recommendations from employees that were asked to rate their willingness to recommend their employers to friends and family. Employee evaluations also included other employers in their respective industries that stood out either positively or negatively.

Here Comes The Sun

Solar panels, photovoltaic - alternative electricity source

Fellowes Introduces Solar Panels to Their Itasca Headquarters

As part of their green initiative, Fellowes has added an energy-saving solar array to its Itasca, Illinois  headquarters. The switch was flipped on December 18th beginning a long-term goal of reducing power usage by utilizing solar energy at its manufacturing facility in the Chicago suburbs.

Power From the Sun

Fellowes partnered with SunVest Solar to install the rooftop solar array. The digital aspect of the solar installation will also include reports available to all Fellowes employees of the energy generated throughout the coming months.

Benefits of Solar Panels

This solar array will produce 1,327,060 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. This is the equivalent of reducing the greenhouse gas from:

What Do Solar Savings Look Like?

The solar energy initiative will reduce carbon emissions equal to:

Path to Renewables

The initiative is part of the Path to 100 campaign to promote solar and wind alternative energy in Illinois. Along with creating cleaner energy in the state, the project also drives sustainability jobs and economic growth.

Part of a Greener Vision for Fellowes

More than just energy conservation through solar goals, Fellowes is implementing other strategies to reduce its carbon footprint and reduce waste.

Bright Ideas for Reducing Energy

The high-efficiency LED lighting in the Itasca manufacturing facility results in an average of 50% reduction in energy consumption.

Minimizing Waste Through Continuous Improvement

Fellowes has implemented company-wide recycling and waste reduction initiatives from the manufacturing floor to the administrative offices. By creating products from recycled content they have improved their environmental efforts.

Partnering with Eco-Friendly Suppliers

Fellowes has found ways to minimize emissions and make manufacturing greener. They reduced VOC output by partnering with ink suppliers for more environmental formulas and decreased CO2 output by economizing product packaging.

Fellowes Brands Wins IDEA Design Award for New Elea Office Chair

Elea_White_Side

The new Elea Office Chair from Fellowes is gaining notoriety for its distinctive design as well as its unique functionality. The Industrial Designers Society of America noted the elegant design and visionary engineering. The remarkable features have set Elea apart from all other office chairs in the workplace furnishing industry.

An Office Chair That Will Move You, Literally

The Elea patent-pending Omini-Kinetic Suspension Technology suspends the seat pan with steel rods that allows the seat—and you—to freely move while ensuring proper balance and stability. By introducing micro-movement into the workday, Elea encourages improved circulation, heart health, muscle and joint flexibility, and mental alertness.

The subtle movements of Elea flow in conjunction with body movement, so the chair syncopates with daily work activities. The user experiences a sense of energy and vitality not found in other office chairs.

An Office Chair Designed for Stability and Comfort 

Industrial-grade alloy steel rods and a cast aluminum framework together to form a unique load-bearing system, which allows free-movement within a durable construction.

A revolutionary designed curved chassis provides the support and comfort needed to carry you through your day for years to come.

Elea_White_Woman

Driving a Robust Wellness Initiative

Elea is part of Fellowes Brand’s objective to introduce innovative wellness furnishings into the modern office environment. Elea is a design and engineering achievement that supports this broader wellness goal.

The Elea is currently available for purchase. Learn more about one of the leading designs in workplace wellness. Learn more about Elea here.

More About the Industrial Designers Society of America

Founded in 1965, the nonprofit Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) is one of the oldest and largest industrial design associations. They represent thousands of members in dozens of Student Chapters, Professional Chapters and Special Interest Sections in the United States and internationally. IDSA sponsors the annual International Design Excellence Awards® (IDEA), the world’s most prestigious and rigorous design competition.

New Lotus RT 180º Rotation Standing Desk Wins Design Award

Fellowes recently expanded its Lotus Sit-Stand Workstation line to fit diverse work styles. The innovative design was recognized by the international Spark Award, winning Gold for 2018 fall product launches.

Award judges noted the design distinction in RT which features dynamic Tri-Motion 180º rotation at the base and 180 º work surface rotation. This gives the user the versatility to effortlessly sit, stand, collaborate or shift the workstation aside with new inspiration.

Perfect for small work spaces, the RT standing desk uses a micro clamping system, leaving more desk space and maximized range of motion. The sturdy design of the Lotus RT securely locks into place and prevents sinking while typing. The clamp mounting system allows for minimal footprint installation and even works near cube walls and fits a variety of desk configurations.

The signature waterfall design of the Lotus Sit-Stand series enhances productivity with a distinctive flowing work space that moves with you. The cord management system also contributes to the smooth flow of motion, keeping computer cables under control with every change in direction.

The dynamic flexibility of RT is part of a greater wellness objective by Fellowes to increase opportunities for healthy physical movement throughout the work day.

The RT Offers More Than Just Sitting and Standing.

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