Social distancing has kept at least one-third of Americans working from their homes for the last several weeks.
However, some businesses – such as grocery stores – remain open and, as the coronavirus pandemic abates, adults will have to head back to their workplaces.
A team, led by the University of California, Davis, says there are two ways that buildings can be healthier once people return.
Researchers suggest that opening windows to improve air circulation and allowing more natural daylight in the office could help prevent the transmission of the virus.
A report suggests one way to prevent coronavirus from spreading in offices once social distancing ends is by letting natural daylight in, which has many health benefits (file image)
Another suggestion is improving air circulation to increase the amount of outside air flowing in, which can dilute virus particles. Pictured: EMTs bring a patient into Bronx Care Hospital Center, April 1
For the review, published in the journal mSystems, the team looked at how to use existing building designs to prevent the spread of the disease.
The authors say that sunlight will not kill off the virus, known as SARS-CoV-2, or that it is effective in fighting against it.
However, the health benefits of people getting sunlight daily make it an easy preventive tool.
‘Daylight exists as a free, widely available resource to building occupants with little downside to its use and many documented positive human health benefits,’ researchers wrote in a university release.
Such health benefits include boosting levels of vitamin D, improving mood and warding off seasonal depression.
Another way for offices to keep their workers safe is to make sure buildings are well-ventilated.
Virus particles are far too minuscule to be kept out of rooms by HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) and MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) filters.
But the researchers suggest other ventilation strategies, such as opening windows when temperatures aren’t too low, which is known as ‘perimeter ventilation.’
The team notes that this method could cause virus particles that have settled on surfaces to accidentally be circulated again.
However, opening windows increases the amount of outside air flowing in, which can help dilute virus particles that are indoors.
Virus particles spread fast in drier air so making sure that an office is more humid could help keep the workplace healthier.
This is because droplets are small in dry air, which make them travel further, but they are bigger in humid air, so they cannot travel as far.
In the meantime, researchers say the best way to keep your home office safe is to practice social distancing when you go out, regularly wash your hands, keep your house well-lit and well-ventilated.
In the US, there are more than 588,000 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 23,600 deaths.