Giles Morgan, Senior Category Engineer, RDD Design Engineering, Dyson
As the year draws to a close, the promise of 2024 brings with it new trends and factors that might impact businesses and their decision making as well as end-user demand. Dyson Professional is looking to the year ahead and predicts what trends will be prevalent in the year to come.
As the technology engineered touches various business needs in a range of sectors, we are seeing overall trends that impact all businesses, regardless of industry alongside those specific to each product area, from the impacts of the cost-of-living crisis to consumer preferences.
Energy costs have been a hot topic of conversation recently, and it is due to remain on the agenda for 2024. Costs are projected to continue being high and as a result, businesses will continue to look for ways to make these overheads more affordable and cut costs where they can.
Despite high energy costs, businesses are often left without a choice, with many appliances integral to operations and customer experience. This is why businesses must look at reducing energy consumption across the whole building to be as cost effective as possible. Businesses will continue to invest in areas such as appropriate lighting solutions to meet their needs. Embracing technology can control costs and energy usage in this category – from smart app control to LEDs that have better energy efficiency.
Increasing energy efficiency in appliances can be a simple solution to solve this issue. Replacing older technologies that may be energy intensive, outdated, and inefficient can be a first step. For example, a superior quality hand dryer, like the Dyson Airblade hand dryer, that reduces the time it takes to dry hands – longer dry times means more energy is consumed. Hot air hand dryers can take around 40 seconds to achieve a hygienic level of dryness, whilst a jet air dryer can only take around 10 seconds to achieve the same level.
Many businesses’ budgets are getting tighter. Finding ways to cut other operating costs goes hand in hand with being conscious of energy usage. Businesses are often confronted with a cost analysis, choosing between a solution that has a lower initial cost but one that is higher in the long-term, versus a solution that is more expensive upfront but will pay dividends. For many products currently on the market, there are opportunities to lease a machine, offering a flexible way to upgrade the technology with affordable payments and no upfront investment – spreading the cost over a period of time. Of course, this is not always a possibility and is dependent on current business expenses and capital available, however they should consider this balance.
A good example of this is the comparison between paper towels and hand dryers. Paper towels of course have a low initial cost; however, they require consistent replenishing, storage, and disposal, not to mention the unforeseen costs such as blockage removal. Meanwhile, a superior hand dryer is an investment but does not need constant replacing. In fact, some modern models are so energy efficient that the upfront cost can be recouped in energy savings compared to that of replacing paper towels. Dyson’s savings calculator can help businesses of all sizes see how much they could save by switching from paper towels to Dyson Airblade™ technology. As a bonus, switching can also be a more sustainable alternative to keep washrooms hygienic at a time when 75% of people are concerned about the use of single-use consumables.
Finding efficiency in technology
Another cost-cutting solution for businesses that we predict will continue to rise in 2024, is seeing suppliers provide multifunctional machines, such as heating/cooling systems fitted with an air purifier, or hand dryers with handwashing capabilities. Not only does this minimise the number of appliances or machines requiring investment, but it can also reduce energy usage, space used and carbon footprint as well as space. There has been a decline in preference of products just offering one answer to a problem and this is particularly true with air purifiers, with some on the market having the capability to not only purify, but to heat or cool a room at the same time, providing the opportunity for more innovative design and technological advancements. In 2024, we predict purifiers with heating/cooling technology will continue to grow in popularity alongside those with the capability for indoor air quality measurement.
Combining cutting costs and energy management will continue to be high on the business agenda into 2024, with these considerations being key in purchasing and usage decisions as they look for ways to do more with less.
With consumer demands on premium experiences set to continue in the new year, businesses should look into putting user experience first.
Consumers are increasingly more discerning and informed, with a wealth of information on a business or product in the palm of their hands. This, paired with the continued cost of living crisis, means that the average consumer carefully chooses at what establishments they spend their money. Factors such as sustainability, experience and atmosphere can all be deciding factors for consumers.
Expectations of public washrooms are ever higher, and a poor washroom experience can directly impact the likelihood of a customer returning to a venue and can even impact their overall view of a business. A study found a close correlation between poor washroom reviews and overall star ratings at hospitality venues, with bad odour as one of the top reasons for a negative experience.
Meanwhile, a positive washroom experience would make over three quarters of Brits more likely to spend with a business. In addition, having a good air filtration system and HEPA-graded machines, such as hand dryers, can signpost to consumers that they will be receiving a positive and hygienic washroom experience – and increasing the chances of them returning to the venue.
Indoor Air Quality
Previously a lesser-known part of the conversation surrounding air pollution, general awareness of indoor air quality has been increasing and is set to continue this upward trend in 2024.
Dyson’s Air Purity Pulse Check survey shows that nearly half of people polled think that indoor air quality is more important than that outdoors. In addition, over half of those surveyed say that they are concerned about poor air quality impacting their health with the majority having become more concerned about this in the past three years. This topic is increasingly at the forefront of people’s minds, paired with increased reporting of it in the current news cycle.
As consumers become more concerned about the air they breathe, businesses need to ensure that they are making a concerted effort to improve it in the shared spaces they are providing and are creating not only a better working environment for all, but also improving productivity of those in the space.
Signposting and Educating
Businesses can signpost to users that they are prioritising indoor air quality in many ways, such as by using an air purifier and sharing air quality data of the premises. Free air quality data is becoming more readily available, which businesses can tap into to educate themselves on the pollution levels in their surrounding area. Imperial College London has created a free to use website, London Air, which shows a map forecasting the different outdoor pollution levels across London.
In addition, businesses can utilise digital air monitors to further explore the key triggers for poor indoor air quality such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or pollution events. Understanding these sources is a crucial first step in improving indoor air quality and potentially finding a solution to them.
Volatile Organic Compounds
Businesses are sure to have at least one source of VOCs in their establishment, therefore it is vital in 2024 that they are made aware of the top sources and find a way to mitigate its effects for the health of those within it.
Awareness around the origins of VOCs and sources will become more important in 2024 due to increased consumer understanding. This is the general term for gases that are emitted into the air from products or processes and are therefore invisible. Some are harmful to our health by themselves, whilst others can react with other gases and form other pollutants in the air, creating a cocktail of harmful particles potentially trapped in an indoor space. While not all VOCs are necessarily harmful, it is important that businesses are aware of the ones that are detrimental to health and their sources.
Potential sources can include construction materials such as paints, adhesives, and varnishes; common household items such as cleaning agents, air fresheners and perfumes; and office equipment, such as printers, photocopiers, and computers – it is clearly a wide-reaching issue.
This year, we have seen an increased awareness of these sources in the home with Dyson’s recent Air Purity Pulse Check report revealing 70% of people polled said they have taken steps such as investing in air purifiers to improve home air quality. This is an encouraging first step which many are sure to follow over the next year as the momentum around recognising sources of harmful indoor pollutants improves.
Major Pollution Events
Over the last year, we have seen major air pollution events such as the wildfires in North America. These made what is usually an invisible threat, visible and demonstrated the dangers of air pollution. This has contributed to an increased awareness on the topic, as guidance included installing air purifiers and avoiding going outside. There is a continued risk of pollution events, and businesses need to increase their understanding and awareness of this problem and have response plans in place to safeguard their indoor air quality.
By investing in better indoor air quality all-year round, despite major pollution events, businesses take an ‘always on’ approach to protecting staff wellbeing and productivity.