Building Air Quality April 2019

Feeling the Heat When Wildfires Threaten Indoor Air Quality There’s been an increase in the number of Texas wildfires over the last few years. Last year, there were over 900 wildfires in the state of Texas alone. Rising temperatures and droughts will likely only make these blazes worse. The biggest threats these fires pose is the loss of human life and immense property damage. However, even if you or your building are far enough away from the flames, wildfires can still cause lasting damage. Soot and carbon contamination in the indoor air and on surfaces inside buildings are a real and often overlooked problem after wildfires burn through. This contamination can get inside buildings thanks to smoke, which can travel great distances very quickly. Smoke that gets caught in the high atmosphere can even travel thousands of miles before gravity pulls the particles back down. Last summer, smoke from the California wildfires reached New York City, over 3,000 miles away. Keep in mind that smoke can linger well after a fire is put out, which means smoke can get inside your building for days after the wildfire has been extinguished. Due to the size of smoke and soot particles —which can be less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter — simply closing the door and windows won’t keep them out of your building. Many commercial buildings draw air from the outside, and the ultra-fine particles of smoke and soot are too small to be removed by standard air filters. Buildings with HEPA filters aren’t automatically safe, either. Building occupants can bring in ash and soot particles on their clothing and through foot traffic. No, you’re not imagining things. It really is getting hotter out there.

Is Transparent Separation Right for Your Company? Protecting the Built Environment Is transparent separation the answer to all your termination woes? The jury’s still out; there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to any business problem. What works great for one company might not be best for another. But if you think the pros outweigh the cons, transparent separation might be worth considering the next time your company has to say goodbye. Getting fired is a horrible experience. Losing a job is hard on an employee, and terminating an employee can create a whole mess of grief for a company. In a 2018 article for Harvard Business Review, Investopedia CEO David Siegel laid out his strategy to avoid the troubles of termination by offering a more considerate approach to firing: transparent separation. In a transparent separation, when underperforming employees are informed that their tenure with the company is coming to an end, they are given a time frame to look for a new job before their last day. Employees are asked to keep the arrangement confidential and are expected to maintain job performance. Siegel states that employees who abuse the goodwill of transparent separation should be let go immediately. Transparent separation is a wild departure from the traditional termination playbook, but Siegel insists that the strategy offers some incredible benefits, such as the following: • Departing employees avoid the struggle of trying to find a new job while unemployed. • There’s reduced legal risk that the company might be sued by an angry employee. • Managers are not cast in an adversarial role for abrupt firings. • The company has time to find a suitable replacement, resulting in a smoother transition. • Remaining employees feel more comfortable when they don’t have to worry about“disappearing”overnight. Even with all these positives, Siegel notes that transparent separation may not be the best course of action for every employee termination. For example, if the soon-to-be-ex-employee is a manager whose toxic behavior is harming the work environment, they need to be shown the door immediately. Siegel claims that in two-thirds of cases, transparent separations offered the best outcome both for the company and the former employee. There are potential drawbacks to transparent separation. Opponents to this strategy note the potential damage a disgruntled employee can cause after being told they are losing their job. Some employees may even prefer to collect severance and leave so they can fully focus on the job search.



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