How can air quality affect employee productivity?

If employees are to perform at their best, their workspace needs to be safe, comfortable and designed for optimum productivity. While most businesses now accept that a working environment designed around workers’ needs is crucial, good air quality is a factor that we often overlook. Poor quality air at work has a significant negative impact on human health, so it would seem evident that it also diminishes productivity.

What are the causes of poor air quality at work?

Poor air quality consists not only of visible substances such as smoke or dust but also invisible pollutants such as pollen, dust, bacteria and animal dander. Volatile organic compounds may be impossible to see and hard to trace, but they are still a risk to both productivity and health.

Exposure to these harmful substances can irritate the eyes and nose, breathing difficulties and skin problems. Lengthier periods of exposure can cause more severe illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis, heart disease and cancer. The more sick leave your staff take, the lower your productivity will be.

Air conditioning, which requires windows and doors to be tightly sealed, is installed in many modern office buildings. Unlike in draughty old buildings, there are no windows that open. The flow of fresh air entering the room is significantly reduced and pollutants, especially particulates, accumulate in the atmosphere.

However, the less air a person needs to breathe in, the fewer pollutants they will be exposed to. Staff in a factory will probably be moving around and breathing more deeply than employees in an office. They will therefore be at greater risk of being affected by poor quality air.

Poor air quality in offices

Today, we spend more than 90% of our days indoors, so it is worrying to discover that there might be pollutants in the air we breathe. A survey of over 1000 office staff by Dr Nigel Oseland, one of the UK’s leading environmental psychologists, reveals that over 80% of British office workers believe that poor quality indoor air could be affecting not only their productivity but also their health.

Solutions to improve the quality of indoor air

There are some low tech options for improving poor air quality at work. The old fashioned way of opening windows and doors is highly effective, but in modern buildings, it is not always possible. Plants such as Devil’s Ivy help to remove pollutants from the atmosphere. Living walls of green plants not only improve the poor quality of air but also enhance the mental wellbeing of those using the workspace.

Maintain air quality at work with Air Quality Plan

In almost any indoor workplace, regular air quality monitoring is essential for the health of your employees and visitors and to maintain productivity. Assessing air quality is not always straightforward, so many businesses enlist the services of air quality professionals. At Air Quality Plan, we can identify the factors causing poor quality of air and implement measures to prevent any future problems. To find out more, please get in touch with the air quality experts on 01489 575733 or complete our contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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