Investing in clean air technology for the workplace may appear to be a luxury addition, but the reality is quite the opposite. In fact, its impact on employee productivity and sickness is so significant that it will actually save your company money. The evidence is unambiguous and research shows that a widespread improvement in indoor air quality for the workplace has the potential to save entire industries millions of pounds every single year.
Think of an employee sat at their desk. Their brain is the engine that's enabling them to work, responsible for their every action; every decision they make, every task they complete, every problem they solve.
What is their brain powered by? Where does it get its energy? Ask them yourself and they'll most likely point to the coffee machine, reference their morning Weetabix or the 8 hours of sleep they had last night. It's interesting that so many people perceive things like food and drink as their primary source of energy, forgetting the air that we breathe every single second of the day.
Air is the fuel to the engine that is our brain. Any changes in air quality, even slight, will immediately alter the functionality of the human brain. We obtain 90% of our energy from Oxygen in the air that we breathe and as soon as you enter a building - particularly a busy workplace, Oxygen levels decrease and Carbon Dioxide levels increase. This in itself leads to an immediate reduction in cognitive ability, but once you add the vast array of common air pollutants, our brains really start to lose functionality. So much so, that even standard office air has been proven to significantly diminish our intelligence and cognitive functions.
It is essential for businesses to consider the quality of air in the workplace. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been reporting on the adverse affects poor indoor air has on employees and businesses for over 30 years, and their latest statistics portray that improving air quality can provide companies with an average employee productivity increase of 16%.
However, this estimated figure has continued to rise as research has developed and is actually somewhat conservative in comparison to some alternative and equally credible findings.
Participants in the above study1 were all "professional-grade employees" including managers, architects, designers, programmers and marketing professionals, carrying out their typical working activities with no idea that the air conditions were being altered. These results clearly demonstrate the substantial impact air quality has on employee productivity and are just one example from a breadth of existing research.
A series of studies by Matthew Neidell and colleagues2 has demonstrated decreased productivity in workers making phone calls and packing fruit as a result of polluted air. Incredibly, the researchers calculated that across the research period (1999-2008) in the fruit packing factories, improvements in air quality saved the US manufacturing industry a whopping $20billion a year in productivity. They stated that gains would have been felt across the entirety of the US economy, demonstrating the astronomical capabilities of clean indoor air.
Employee absenteeism as a result of symptoms related to bad quality air is believed to cost UK employers tens of billions of pounds every year. Statistics show that the average UK employee costs their employer £600 per year in sick pay, however this figure only considers the direct and obvious costs such as wages, administrative and personnel costs. It doesn't include the hidden, indirect costs such as missed deadlines and reduced company productivity, and is therefore substantially higher in reality.
In addition to absenteeism due to common illnesses such as colds and flu, approximately 50% of the UK’s population suffer from allergies and a survey by the Met Office found that hay fever alone costs UK businesses 29 million working days every year (11 days per sufferer each year).
When you also consider the drastic reduction in productivity that allergy related symptoms cause within the workplace, they become even more of a hindrance to businesses.
We have the technology.
We at Airnitiative are a proud ambassador for the world's highest certified clean air technology developed by Radic8. Unlike standard air purifiers, Radic8 technology uses UV reactor chamber technology to kill and neutralise all known air pollutants including allergens, bacteria, virus, traffic pollution and VOCs.
Their patented ViruskillerTM products don't just purify; they perform complete sterilisation of the workplace, significantly boosting employee productivity and reducing employee sick days by over 50%.
The products are available to lease as well as buy immediately, providing a cost effective solution for many businesses.
1. Allen, J.G., MacNaughton, P., Satish, U., Santanam, S., Vallarino, J., & Spengler, J.D. (2016).
Associations of Cognitive Function Scores with Carbon Dioxide, Ventilation, and Volatile Organic Compound Exposures in Office Workers: A Controlled Exposure Study of Green and Conventional Office Environments. Environmental Health Perspectives, 124(6), p.805.
2. Chang, T., Graff Zivin, J., Gross, T., Neidell, M. (2016). Particulate pollution and the productivity of pear packers. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 8:3, p141–169.
3. Chang, T., Graff Zivin, J., Gross, T., Neidell, M. (2016). The Effect of Pollution on Office Workers: Evidence from Call Centers in China. NBER Working Paper No.No. 22328, 2016-06.
4. Graff Zivin, J. & Neidell, M. (2012) The impact of pollution on worker productivity. American Economic Review 102:7, p3652–3673.