HR News Articles

Research shows if you improve the air quality at work, you improve productivity

Libby Sander

Corporate wellness programs focus on biometric screening, diet and exercise programs to improve health and productivity. However, new research has shown the quality of the office environment itself can have significant negative effects on thinking, health and productivity.


A recent study by teams from Harvard and Syracuse Universities focused on indoor air quality. The researchers simulated environments with different levels of ventilation, carbon dioxide, and emissions from common office products.


Employees were tested under two different conditions. One condition involved workers undertaking their regular duties in typical office building conditions. On other days, employees undertook their regular task in a simulated “green condition” where ventilation was improved, and levels of carbon dioxide and emissions were reduced.


Results showed that employees in the green condition environment performed 61% better on cognitive tasks than in the standard office conditions. Further, by doubling the ventilation in the green condition environment, cognitive performance increased by more than 100%.


Though plants were not included in this study, other research has shown that adding greenery to office environments increases not only satisfaction and productivity but also the perception that air quality had improved.


A further study conducted on 10 different green-certified buildings found employees had 30% fewer headaches and respiratory complaints in the green office environment. The study also showed employees performed nearly 27% better on cognitive tasks. Finally, workers in the study slept better at night, tracked by a wristband measuring sleep quality.


The focus on employee well-being continues to rise, with research indicating almost 90% of companies invest in corporate wellness programs. While these programs aim to improve health and reduce absenteeism, coming to work while sick has a high cost to employers.


The impact of “presenteeism” - working while ill - has been shown to cost $150 billion in lost productivity in a US study. In Australia, insurance company Medibank estimates put the overall cost of presenteeism to the Australian economy at A$34.1 billion, equating to a decrease in gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.7% compared to a scenario where there wasn’t any.


The cost of providing better quality environments in the workplace may be considered a factor limiting organisations from implementing change. However research has shown that spending just US$40 per person, per year on indoor air quality resulted in a US$6500 increase in employee productivity.


The ConversationThese findings suggest that improving the quality of the indoor environment is an important focus for organisations seeking to improve employee performance and well-being.


Libby Sander, Lecturer, Bond Business School


This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Jobs Just For You, The HR Professional

Our weekly or daily email bulletins are guaranteed to contain only fresh employment opportunities


More info

Latest Jobs

Quality Assurance Business Partner
Queensland

Recruitment Coordinator - Contract
Victoria

Talent Acquisition Consultant
Victoria

Recruitment Advisor - Internal - Contract
Queensland

HR Partner - Community Services
Victoria

HR Advisor
New South Wales

L&D Advisor - HR
New South Wales

Human Resource Coordinator (9 month fixed term contract)
New South Wales

HR Shared Services Manager - Contract
Queensland

Head of People & Culture
Victoria

APS 5 Rehabilitation Case Manager - Contract
Australian Capital Territory

HR Manager
New South Wales

Change Manager
Victoria

Senior HR Business Partner - Fixed Term
Victoria

Recruiter
New South Wales

Workforce Business Systems / Data Analyst - Fixed Term to Dec 2018
New South Wales

Return to Work Coordinator - Contract
Victoria

HR Advisor
Queensland

HR Policy & Procedure Officer - Contract
Queensland

Recruitment Coordinator - Internal
Queensland

HR Manager
New South Wales

Internal Recruiter
New South Wales

Learning and Development Manager
New South Wales

HR Business Partner - Contract
New South Wales

Talent Acquisition
New South Wales

HR Manager - 12 month fixed term contract
New South Wales

HR Manager
New South Wales

Director, Organisational Development
Victoria

Recruitment Specialist - Independent Panel Members
New South Wales

Safety Advisor and RTW Coordinator
Victoria

HR Coordinator
Victoria

Workplace Relations Lead
Victoria

Human Resources Business Partner - Contract
Victoria

HR Administrator
New South Wales

HR Project Coordinator - Contract
Victoria

Senior Recruitment Advisor - Contract
Victoria

L&D Consultant | Professional Services Firm | 6 month fixed term contract
New South Wales

General Manager Human Resources
Victoria

Human Resources Administrator - Contract
Queensland

Learning & Organisational Development Consultant - Contract
Victoria

Safer Community Program Coordinator (Re-Advertised)
Victoria

HR Advisor
New South Wales

HR Specialist - Contract
Victoria

Human Resources Business Partner - 12 mth Contract
New South Wales

HR Manager
Western Australia

HR Advisor
New South Wales

Talent Specialist - long contract
New South Wales

HR Global Mobility Coordinator - Contract
New South Wales

Content Producer - Contract
New South Wales

Reward Analyst
New South Wales

HR Coordinator - Contract
Victoria

HR Manager - Contract
New South Wales

Organisational Development Program Manager
New South Wales

Senior HR Business Partner - Fixed Term
Victoria

APS4 Workforce Reporting
Australian Capital Territory

APS4/5 Recruitment Officer
Australian Capital Territory

HRBP | Business Leadership Partner
New South Wales

Talent Acquisition Specialist - Contract
Victoria

APS eLearning Lectora Specialist - Contract
Australian Capital Territory

L&D Specialist - Contract
New South Wales

HR Advisor
Queensland

Talent Acquisition / HR Coordinator - Contract
New South Wales

Human Resources Advisor - Fixed Term
Victoria

HR Analyst
New South Wales

HR Manager
New South Wales

Learning and Development Specialist
Victoria

Recruitment Coordinator - $30ph + super
New South Wales

HR Advisor
Victoria

Recruitment Coordinator - Contract
New South Wales

Talent Acquisition Partner
New South Wales

IR Officer - Graduate role - Contract
New South Wales

HR Manager - Contract
New South Wales

AO8 Strategic Initiatives Manager
Queensland

Safety Learning Associate - Contract
New South Wales

Learning & Development Manager
New South Wales

People & Culture Officer
Victoria

HR Manager (AU & NZ)
New South Wales

HR Manager
Queensland

HR Coordinator
Queensland

APS4 Recruitment Officer - Contract
Australian Capital Territory

Browse All Jobs