Employee Well-being

Effects of Indoor Air Quality On Performance and Productivity

  Majority of people spend most of their working hours within offices. According to WHO, one-third of adult life is ...


 

Majority of people spend most of their working hours within offices. According to WHO, one-third of adult life is spent at work. So, predictably, the quality of air available around the employees has a huge impact on their well-being and productivity at the workplace. Indoor air pollution has been identified as a vital environmental health problem by the US Environmental Protection Agency, and independent scientific panels. It was revealed that sometimes indoor environments have a larger proportion of pollutants in comparison to outdoor environments. 

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is a complex concept with interlinked factors which are dynamic in nature, and consequently have an impact on the type and levels of the pollutants found indoors. Some of the factors can be narrowed down to pollutant source, ventilation system and its maintenance, humidity, and user perception of comfort/IAQ. 

The past decade has seen a rise in the enthusiasm of corporations with respect to employee well-being & a relative boost in productivity. These employee-centric corporations are searching for ways to boost the productivity of their employees and enhance their engagement as well as workplace satisfaction. There are many studies on the effects of indoor air quality on performance and productivity.  A Harvard Business Review Study suggested that a company incurs up to 30-50% higher profit margins when the productivity of the employees is 40% more than that of their industry peers. Ensuring a healthy indoor environment is the key to achieving this. Another study conducted revealed that the sick leaves were cut down by 2/3rds and increased employee satisfaction up to 58% - 78% on the provision of a holistic work environment. 

Good indoor air quality plays a significant role in ensuring a satisfying work environment.

While corporate wellness programs work on improving the indoor environment to boost the health and productivity of employees, indoor air quality, an important aspect of the same,  is often overlooked. Air quality extends beyond visible pollutants, which are harder to trace but can impair the well-being of the occupants. Maintaining good air quality at the workplace can reduce absenteeism and augment more engagement of employees, consequently spiking the gross revenue. A research study conducted by Harvard University revealed a 101% increased cognitive performance in a well-ventilated low VOC office environment. 

How do you identify and improve air quality?

The preliminary step in this direction involves monitoring the air within the building followed by managing and optimizing it. The following metrics need to be monitored, as it impacts the indoor air quality and consequently the office employees:

  • Temperature - It is one of the chief parameters that is associated with perceived comfort. The provision of an environment which is neither too warm nor too cold will have a positive impact on the employees’ performance and attendance.
  • Humidity - Similar to the temperature, this parameter influences the perception of comfort. When optimum relative humidity levels are not maintained, it can either result in the occupants feeling clammy due to high humidity or feel dryness linked to low humidity.
  • Particulate Matter - These are small inhalable dust particles that can cause health problems such as allergies, asthma, cough, etc. On exposure to high concentrations of PM for a long period of time, can also instigate serious fatalities such as lung cancer and heart attacks.
  • VOCs -  This pollutant originates from building materials and equipment such as computers and copiers. Sensory irritations including ocular irritation, headaches, fatigue, allergy, and sick building syndrome may be associated with the concentration of certain VOCs. 
  • Carbon dioxide - High proportion of carbon dioxide levels in a space can impair the occupant’s concentration and productivity. The oxygen available for breathing reduces when carbon dioxide levels are higher, causing uneasiness, dizziness, and headaches.

Once these parameters are correctly identified and monitored, IAQ can be improved through the following three strategies:

  • Eliminate the source of the pollutant by either dislodging it from the building or managing the usage timing or by installing physical barriers to isolate it from the occupants.  
  • Enhanced ventilation for pollutant dilution and eradication.
  • Implementation of filtration of air to filter out the pollutants.

If you want to learn more about IAQ you can download our IAQ Parameters Guide :

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