The impact indoor environmental quality (IEQ) has on the workplace
Indoor environmental quality (IEQ) is simply the term used to describe the conditions inside a building. There are many factors and environmental parameters that determine the IEQ of a building, including: air quality, light quality, sound comfort, temperature and humidity.
On average, UK residents spend 90% of their time indoors, so it comes as no surprise that poor indoor environmental quality can have extensive and detrimental effect on our health.
In the workplace, the effects of poor IEQ can vary from minor distraction to significant decreases in employee health, wellbeing and productivity.
In this post, we will expand on some of the different parameters that determine the IEQ of a building and outline the impacts they can have on the workplace.
Indoor Air Quality
The Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) parameter, as one might assume, is the atmosphere in the building. More specifically, IAQ majorly concerns itself with the airborne contaminants and pollutants present.
Sources that influence the IAQ of the workplace, can include high levels of CO2, inadequate ventilation, tobacco smoke, mold, toxic gases, chemicals, allergens, and airborne particles.
IAQ is perhaps the parameter with the biggest impact on employee health and wellbeing, as poor IAQ has been shown to cause asthma, cardiovascular issues, and lung cancer.
In Central London alone, 650,000 sick days are year are due to poor IAQ in the workplace.
Furthermore, there are 3000 new cases of Occupational Asthmas diagnosed each year, with 1 in 10 cases of adult-onset asthma relating to the workplace.
In terms of productivity, 70% of workers say poor air quality makes them less productive in the workplace.
Extensive studies have demonstrated that high levels of indoor air pollution in the workplace have negative repercussions on the cognitive abilities of employees, reducing memory, impairing concentration, and lowering decision-making capabilities.
In contrast, those working in buildings with low levels of indoor pollutions, demonstrated high levels of cognitive ability and productivity. On average, those working in “green+” buildings (extremely low indoor pollution levels) scored.
The lightly quality of a workplace is the intensity, brightness and glare of the internal lighting, which in itself can be artificial, natural, or a combination of both.
The internal lighting of a building varies from workplace to workplace, as different occupations will naturally need differing levels of brightness and intensity. For example, warehouse and office workers will need well lit-conditions to operate, and night-shift workers will see higher levels of artificial light.
Each employee’s optimum light comfort can vary, and light quality is a highly subjective subject.
However, both high and low levels of illumination can affect employees work performance and health, as poor light quality cause headaches, eye strain and vision deterioration.
For example, on average, employees tend get 46 minutes more sleep at night if they work in well-lit offices.
Sound comfort is combination of room and building acoustics, and it is essential that both are controlled within the workplace.
Room acoustics focuses on sound comfort within the work environment. Essentially, are employees able to effectively communicate with each other.
Building acoustics, on the other hand, is the unwanted external sounds. Air-conditioning, forklifts, printers; they are sounds that cause unnecessary annoyance, or in worse case scenario, hearing issues. We can also describe this as noise pollution.
Sound comfort can have a huge impact on health, wellbeing, and productivity in the workplace.
Temperature and Humidity
The temperate and humidity of a building contributes to its IEQ and inadequate levels of both can impact health, wellbeing, and productivity in the workplace.
Temperate is the physical manifestation of thermal energy. Basically, how warm or cold the workplace is. Whilst humidity is the concentration of water vapour in the air.
The influence a building’s temperate and humidity cannot be understated. Both high and low temperate negatively influence work performance and productivity, and inappropriate indoor humidity can lead to nose bleeds, eczema, and dry skin.
In addition, this parameter links to IAQ, in that the humidity of a building can case bacteria growth and allergens in the workplace.
The next step…
As we can see, there are many contributing factors as to why poor IEQ negatively impacts the health, wellbeing and productivity in the workplace.
Poor IEQ will affect a business’ bottom line, and, in this day and age, the workforce simply does not want to work for a company that does not consider their health and wellness.
For more information on how to monitor and improve the IEQ of your building, contact us.