Success is in the Air: How Air Quality Affects Office Productivity


If you can’t smell the scent of incoming profits in your office, odds are your workplace could use an air-conditioning upgrade.

Recent research has shown that the impact of air quality on productivity is much higher than originally believed to be. Earlier this year, the National Bureau of Economic Research released a white paper which quotes startling results of a survey carried out by Tom Chang of the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. The study’s findings are crystal clear: even a slight 10-unit increase in the air pollution index can shave the daily output of a call agent by an average 0.35 percent. Still, daily output drops caused by presence of air pollutants in the office are just the tip of the iceberg: higher than normal air pollution affects other aspects of the workflow that are directly connected to workplace productivity.


Air Pollution Dilutes Concentration


Various studies conducted over the past few decades have produced unanimous findings: poor air quality is a force to be reckoned with in lines of work which require peak focus and creativity. Inadequate ventilation can cause concentration dips and memory issues, both of which impact workplace output and engagement of white collar employees. Unfortunately, the shape of the ventilation system isn’t the only variable that has a hand in workplace air quality: office location, ongoing renovation works, and furniture quality can also be a source of particulates that pollute office air and punch deep holes in work performance. This is why it’s of utmost importance for employers to allocate a part of the corporate budget to regular office updates and maintenance, as this will be an investment both employee satisfaction and long-term productivity.


Productivity’s Taken a Sick Leave


Another issue that can compromise productivity in the office: absenteeism, which can quickly go up a notch with poor air quality in the mix. It has been observed that high amount of pollutants in the air can result in more frequent occurrence of allergic reactions, headaches, fatigue (both physical and mental), as well as eye and throat irritation. This is especially the case in peak heating and cooling seasons, when air quality is often compromised by the devices that are supposed to increase employee comfort, such as air conditioning and ventilation systems which haven’t been recently serviced.

Increased frequency of absenteeism and extended sick leave duration can both jeopardize office productivity and increase running expenses through high cost of replacement workers. For this reason, it’s financially safer and wiser for employees to invest in office ergonomics upgrades than to risk high absenteeism-related expenses in the long run.


Air Quality Boosters Go a Long Way


If your office could use an air filtration update, there are quite a few air purification tricks you can turn to that will improve air quality in the workplace without breaking the corporate bank.


  1. NASA scientists have found that plants can reduce the amount of toxins, air pollutants, and carbon dioxide indoors, so if you want to keep the air in your office crisp, clean, and conducive to peak cognitive function, don’t forget to infuse your workplace with a few green tenants. The best indoor plants for office use include Dracaena, spider plant, mother-in-law’s tongue, ficus, peace lily, garden mum, bamboo, and aloe vera.


  1. Most commercial cleaning staples contain hazardous chemicals and toxins which can pollute the air in the workplace and chip off chinks of office productivity. By replacing conventional for eco-friendly cleaning supplies, you can both reduce the environmental impact of your office and pull out productivity dips caused by lower than optimal air quality.


  1. Industry-specific commercial HEPA air purifiers are growing increasingly popular, and research shows that their use in the workplace can increase productivity by as many as 2.8%-15%. Quality HEPA air filters can remove up to 99.99% of tiny particulates in the air that contribute to chronic conditions such as respiratory infections, asthma, and allergies and thus trim absenteeism, amp office productivity, and ensure long-term employee wellbeing and work engagement.


  1. Dehumidifiers help prevent allergen infestations that can lead to increased frequency of sick leaves and performance drops. By keeping humidity at 30-50%, a first-rate dehumidifier will keep dust mite, mold, and pollen out of office air, which is good for both employees’ health and business results. Still, be sure to have dehumidifiers serviced regularly as this will prevent high repair and replacement costs and potential air quality hitches that can arise due to inadequate device maintenance.


Air quality is an important factor that plays a role in work engagement, employee comfort and wellbeing, and overall office productivity. Don’t let poor workplace air quality stifle your brand’s success: take preventive steps and upgrade the office ventilation and air-conditioning systems, and peak profits will soon follow suit.

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The above post was written and submitted by Zoe Clark. You can find her on Facebook: Twitter: and Google+:





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