Recent Study Concludes Poor Ventilation Slows Down Workplace Cognitive Performance

January 12, 2016

Your lack of performance at work may be due to poor office ventilation and no fault of your own. A recent study led by Harvard University, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, discovered that employees working in well-ventilated office spaces (office air testing at below-average levels of indoor pollutants and carbon dioxide levels) demonstrate considerably higher cognitive functioning scores than workers in offices with average levels of indoor air pollutants and carbon dioxide.

Why is office air quality so poor?

The past few decades have driven building developers to look for energy efficient ways to construct office spaces. While using fewer resources has numerous money saving advantages, the flipside is that office ventilation typically suffers as a consequence. Offices are designed to be more insulated and airtight with less airflow allowed from the outdoors. Introduce chemicals found in flooring, office furniture, cleaning products along with fumes from copiers and printers into the environment and the amount of VOCs present in your office quickly multiplies.

What did the researchers conclude?

The researchers tested the cognitive functionality of workers from a variety of fields in various controlled conditions. The research concluded that cognitive functionality decreased as levels of carbon dioxide increased. Extremely green office air with enhanced ventilation enabled workers to score 60% better than those working in average conditions while workers in slightly above average conditions doubled their cognitive performance. The study clearly showed that better air quality has a direct correlation to the cognitive performance of workers in a favorable manner.

Small improvements to workplace indoor air quality can have a substantial impact on employee productivity. Employers that make small changes aimed towards improving ventilation and increasing overall air quality will start seeing changes in worker productivity.

How can employers improve office air quality?

The first step in improving air quality should be to have the air quality analyzed with an OfficeAir Check Test. This test will identify the potential hazards polluting your office air and enable you to take steps towards remediating them. Improvements to ventilation systems that increase air flow will also positively impact air quality. Studies have shown that houseplants can significantly improve the quality of indoor air by filtering out toxins and lowering levels of carbon dioxide. The addition to some greenery throughout the office will help keep the air cleaner.