Are Workplace Air Quality Issues Triggering Anxiety?

New research from Infogrid finds nearly three quarters of hybrid workers are worried about the impact of poor air quality on general health.

Most hybrid workers worry about the impact of poor air quality on general health, according to new research. Infogrid surveyed more than 4,000 U.S. and UK employees for its annual air quality index report, “Air Quality and Health in the Workplace: Key Insights and Hybrid Worker Perspectives.” Their responses reveal concerns over the impact of workplace air quality on general health and productivity, and call for employers to take action.

workplace air quality
(Photo Adobe Stock by Halfpoint)

“The pandemic has undoubtedly prompted greater awareness and concerns over air quality in the workplace—and employees are finally speaking up,” said Ross Sheil, Senior Vice President at Infogrid. “Our findings not only show that employees are worried about their health, they are calling for their employers and governments to act now. This is just the tip of the iceberg; indoor air quality will be on the agenda for years to come.”

According to the survey:

  • workplace air quality
    (Source: Infogrid)

    Employees are concerned about indoor air quality (IAQ). The numbers are unambiguous. In the U.S., 74 percent of employees are concerned that poor IAQ is impacting their general health.

  • Younger employees are more likely to worry about IAQ. In the U.S., 85 percent of respondents aged 18 to 34 were either fairly or very concerned, while in the UK, 66 percent were concerned.
  • Employees relate disease to air quality. A significant minority of respondents—29 percent in the U.S. and 21 percent in the UK— worry about catching COVID-19 and other illnesses due to poor ventilation.
  • Employees know CO2 hurts their productivity and health. The most surprising revelation from the survey is employees’ high awareness of the impact of carbon dioxide (CO₂) on workplace performance. In the U.S., 77 percent (and 61 percent in the UK) said they were aware that CO₂ levels impact productivity.
  • A sizable minority do not trust workplace ventilation. 20 percent in the U.S. and 17 percent in the UK simply don’t believe that ventilation systems are adequate, an uncomfortable finding for facilities managers and architects.
  • Employees want their organizations to do more about IAQ. Roughly 4 in 10 say their company does enough to improve air quality, while 4 in 10 say their employer does not. About 8 percent said their organization is doing nothing.

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  • There is widespread belief that improved IAQ should be policy. 31 percent of respondents in the U.S. and 29 percent in the UK say that providing clean air is “vitally important” for a healthy workplace.