The Link Between Indoor Air Quality and Productivity at Work

January 8, 2014  /  Lifestyle

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The link between indoor air quality and productivity isn’t one that is always given much attention, but there is definitely a strong connection. Poor air quality can influence health outcomes. For example, it is no coincidence that hospitals work diligently to filter their air. Employees and key decision makers who don’t feel their best are not reaching their true productive potential.

Numerous studies have shown a link between poor air quality and exposure to environmental pollutants and diseases. In fact a term “sick building syndrome” has been coined to describe the impact of various indoor pollutants that can lead to chronic headaches, nausea, fatigue and lethargy. Back in 1984, the World Health Organization estimated that about 30% of new or remodeled buildings had significant indoor air quality issues.

Preventative Health Care Steps

One of the best ways to reduce insurance costs is to invest in preventative health care. Some measures, such as encouraging employees to lose weight, exercise, and eat a healthier diet, have received a good deal of attention. However, those steps largely take place outside of the office or work environment. Yet, indoor air quality is a different factor altogether. This is a variable that employers have almost complete control over. There is a link between health outcomes and air quality, and it is one of the very few elements that employers can actively shape regarding the health of their workers.
There are many different ways to improve indoor air quality without any type of significant financial component. The simplest step is often to just open up the windows. The addition of plants, such as Boston ferns and other ferns and the highly durable snake plant, is another way to use plants to clean indoor air. In fact, plants can even break down harmful compounds such as formaldehyde and make indoor air quality safer as a result. Building owners and managers should also routinely make sure that filters and ductwork are clean.

Boosting Overall Morale

Improving indoor air quality means less sick days, less lost productivity and happier employees. Some of the benefits of improving indoor air quality may be hard to quantify, for example, healthier employers are ones that are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs. One sick employee can do more than make others sick, as he or she can also bring down workplace morale and do so rather quickly.

A dedicated investment in improving indoor air quality, such as adopting LEED standards, opting to use green cleaning services, incorporating plants and taking proper maintenance steps, will all contribute not just to a greener building, but also to a healthier, more productive and happier workforce.

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