5 Reasons to Invest in Office Air Quality

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May 28, 2019

As you seek to attract the best talent and drive sustainable business growth, there’s one opportunity you may be overlooking. Below, we’ve outlined five reasons why investing in better office air quality can improve your bottom line.

1. Boost Productivity

In the last decade, the concept of employee productivity has become a corporate obsession — and for good reason. According to a Harvard Business Review study, the most successful companies are 40 percent more productive than their industry peers, a difference that equates to 30 to 50 percent higher profits. Countless articles provide tips to improve workplace productivity, but most overlook one simple factor that could be setting you back: office CO2 levels.

Traditional offices and conference rooms tend to be overcrowded and airtight — the perfect recipe for unhealthy amounts of CO2. For centuries, we’ve known that elevated CO2 levels can cause headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, disorientation, and restlessness. More recently, we’ve begun to understand that breathing high amounts of CO2 actually decrease brain activity and metabolic function — making it harder to focus and make decisions.

So what does that mean for our offices? In a very literal sense, the air in your conference room may be limiting your team's creative faculties. A U.K. study found that employee test scores improved by up to 12 percent in “green” buildings with better ventilation and low CO2 concentrations. The same study also found that employees worked 60 percent faster in low CO2 environments than their peers in high CO2 environments.  

Temperature and humidity also have a measurable effect on productivity. According to a Cornell study, warmer offices are correlated with fewer employee errors and higher overall productivity. But how hot is too hot? Cornell found that employee performance peaks at a balmy 77° F.

2. Foster Wellness

It’s no secret that the air you breathe has a direct impact on your health and wellbeing. In recent years, poor outdoor air quality has been linked to serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, adverse pregnancy outcomes, and lower life expectancy rates worldwide.

What’s lesser known, however, is the fact that indoor air tends to be more polluted than the outdoor air of even large, industrialized cities. That fact is especially alarming when you consider that the average person now spends about 90 percent of their life indoors.

Office buildings that lack adequate air flow and ventilation often harbor high amounts of fine dust (PM2.5) and chemicals (VOCs). Inhaling these airborne toxins can have immediate and long-term impacts on the health of building occupants. In fact, indoor air quality-related malaise is so common in the workplace that it’s even been given its own name: sick building syndrome.

When you don’t feel healthy at work, it’s difficult to be present and perform at the best of your abilities. Investing in healthier air quality will help keep your employees healthy, productive, and engaged.

3. Reduce Absenteeism

In addition to creating a feeling of discomfort and sickness, poor air quality also has a measurable impact on absenteeism. If employees don’t feel healthy or comfortable in the office, they’ll take more sick days or opt to work from home more often.

Lowering absentee rates may be as simple as improving building ventilation and monitoring office air quality. If you know when CO2, PM2.5, and VOC levels are unhealthy, then you can react before they affect employee health and productivity.

4. Attract and Retain Talent

With U.S. unemployment rates at their lowest in 50 years, more companies are looking for ways to attract and retain quality talent amidst a sea of potential employers. Workplace benefits that were once considered “perks” are starting to become the rule rather than the exception.

Regardless of how you feel about corporate lunch and wellness programs, these benefits have a proven impact on employee health, retention, productivity, and brand perception. More recently, leading companies like Airbnb and WeWork have added office air quality into their employee wellness matrix.

5. Reassure Your Employees

In the COVID-19 era, employees need assurances that they are working in a safe, disease-free environment. According to research, viruses and germs can use dust and other airborne particles as a transport system to extend their spread and stay longer in the environment. As companies are gradually re-entering office environments, they need to monitor air quality and keep their dust levels in check. This helps allay worries about the spread of respiratory diseases like COVID-19 in the workplace. 

Sharing the data that IAQ monitoring tools gather will also help employees better understand what affects air quality, and how they can contribute to a safer work environment.

Understand Your Office Air Quality

Before you sign the lease on a new office building, invest in expensive filters, or install a new ventilation system, it pays to know what’s in your air and where your problem areas are. Awair Omni helps businesses keep tabs on temperature, humidity, CO2, chemicals (VOCs), fine dust (PM2.5), light, and noise levels in different spaces and empowers them to create healthier work environments.

Interested in discovering how Awair Omni might work for your company? Read our latest case study to learn how Airbnb is using Awair Omni to keep their San Francisco office healthy and safe.