Chances are, you don’t often consider the air quality in your office and how it affects your employees and their productivity.
Poor upkeep of ventilation (not much of fresh air or too much-contaminated air brought into the building), unmaintained room temperature, crowded workplace, increased number of building occupants, and contamination by construction materials and/or office equipment, may be the most common causes of poor indoor air quality.
If poor indoor air quality is not addressed properly, it can cause health issues for its occupants – the employees in the building.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), people spend 90% of their time indoors which is 2-5x more polluted than outdoors – ranking indoor air pollutants among the top five environmental risks to public health.
Such health reactions may start subtly with allergies because of increased mold and dust mite concentrations, headaches and fatigues, and chest tightness. These are also the same symptoms of “Sick Building Syndrome” or “SBS” which in the end, affects not only the employees’ health but also the productivity of the workforce.
SBS symptoms are associated with poor ventilation system maintenance and/or cleanliness. However, some studies show that changes in the working environment such as increased ventilation, decreased temperature, and improved cleaning of floors and chairs reduce the symptoms of SBS. Not only that but it also decreases absences from work and employees’ visits to doctors.
In line with this, companies today focus on encouraging its employees to join fitness organizations and dietary programs but haven’t done much to improve the quality of the indoor air their employees breathe. A research conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory showed that an improved indoor air quality can increase up to 10% of work productivity and cognitive functioning is 61% enhanced.
In a research conducted by Harvard Business Review, it has been found out that decision-making has been significantly enhanced, with high cognitive scores, and lower levels of indoor air when exposed to increased ventilation rates. The experiment showed that employees were more logical and more responsive to crises.
Among the findings from these scholastic researches, it could only mean that an improved indoor air quality in the office can progress the employees’ work performance.
The management or the administration should look at the quality of their indoor air to know if there are areas that need improvement. Although the cost for indoor air quality assessment may be a concern to some, a study proved that converting into a cleaner and greener office is less expensive than installing another ventilation unit.
Encouraging the management to invest in improving their workplace’s IAQ “requires bridging the gap of understanding of stakeholders about the real benefits and costs of improved IAQ.”
Aside from controlling and monitoring VOCs, ventilation rates, and temperature, another critical aspect of the indoor environment that concerns health and productivity are lightning and noise.
Businesses will benefit if they recognize that there is a link that connects employees’ productivity and indoor air environment. If the indoor air quality is optimized and the employees’ work performance maximized, the company and employees are both moving towards a better and intellectual workforce – making it a win-win case for both parties.
“Your building’s air quality is essential for a productive working environment.” <https://www.75f.io/indoor-air-quality-management>
“The impact of working in a green certified building on cognitive function and health.” <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360132316304723>.
“Research: Stale Office Air Is Making You Less Productive.” <https://hbr.org/2017/03/research-stale-office-air-is-making-you-less-productive>.
“Perceptions in the U.S. building industry of the benefits and costs of improving Indoor Air Quality.” <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272096273_Perceptions_in_the_US_building_industry_of_the_benefits_and_costs_of_improving_Indoor_Air_Quality>.
“How Employee Productivity Chokes on Indoor Air.” <https://www.huffingtonpost.com/marilyn-black/how-employee-productivity_b_5620941.html>