It is slightly odd that the majority of employee wellness programmes focus upon diet and exercise while neglecting to address the effects of poor air quality on employees. A number of objective studies have found that indoor air quality and productivity share a hand-in-hand relationship. Environments laden with pollutants and low levels of circulation will directly correlate with poor productivity, more sick days and an overall lack of in-house motivation. What are some of the reasons behind these conclusions?
Of course, any air that is associated with pollutants, stagnation and high levels of humidity will have an impact on the comfort of all workers. This is just as true within warehouses as it is when referring to modern office air quality. Many scientists believe that employees tend to receive less oxygen in such cases; impairing important functions such as cognition and performance in general. If the air quality is improved, it only stands to reason that workers will be able to function at a higher level (and therefore, they will exhibit a greater overall sense of efficiency).
Many commercial and industrial environments will employ automated air circulation systems. Commonly referred to as HVAC units, these networks control numerous factors such as temperature, humidity and airflow. The main problem is that filters can become clogged over time. If they are no longer able to separate particulate matter from the air, this material will once again enter into circulation. Should this occur within a closed environment, it only stands to reason that poor air quality in the workplace is the inevitable result. Other research has found that a combination of airborne pollutants and high temperatures have been known to impact employee performance. This is why all HVAC systems should be inspected and maintained on a regular basis.
It is always better to improve the quality of air by natural means. This could be as simple as opening up a few extra doors or windows (should the weather permit). Enabling fresh air to enter into an office will reduce airborne particulate matter and it can also be effective at lowering levels of ambient humidity; both factors which may determine how employees perform.
Another important point to mention involves the fact that opening up doors and windows will often expose the work environment to natural light. To put this observation into perspective, the Daylight, Energy and Indoor Climate (DEIC) handbook notes that natural light is directly related to mood, motivation, performance, and lower levels of eye fatigue. When we consider that countless workers will remain seated for long periods of time and will be required to interact with computer screens, it becomes clear why allowing daylight and natural sources of ventilation to be present represents a powerful strategy to embrace.
It is first wise to obtain an indoor air quality test in order to determine what pollutants are present (as well as their relative concentrations). Once you have identified the source of the problem, the correct steps can be taken. Some professional advice to keep in mind will includes:
All of these steps will help to improve air quality in the workplace, and therefore eliminate the effects of poor air quality on your workforce. These methods are generally easy to implement within a daily routine.
Questionable air quality in the workplace needs to be taken seriously, due to the impact of air quality on the workforce, not always being immediately obvious. Not only will your employees remain content, but studies have also shown that their performance levels might very well increase by as much as 10 per cent, making taking the time to consider air quality in the workplace extremely worthwhile. As a growing number of commercial offices are now located within high-rise buildings and similar structures, these environments have become even more of a concern.
If you would like to speak with a specialist to discover how to improve air quality in the workplace, please contact a member of our team.