Survey Gathers US and Canadian Workers’ Opinions on Workplace IAQ

Only 29% of participants described their workplace air as “very clean.”

September 11, 2023

Office equipment manufacturing company Fellowes Brands recently announced results from its annual survey that examines U.S. and Canadian workers’ thoughts regarding the indoor air quality (IAQ) of their workplaces.

The survey, which canvassed 1,085 U.S. and Canadian workers who work on-site indoors at least one full day a week, discovered the following key findings:

Deterioration in IAQ perception: Just 29% of the respondents (33% American and 25% Canadian) characterized the air quality in their workplace as “very clean”—a decline from the 36% reported in a 2022 Fellowes survey.

Advocacy for clean air: 91% of respondents expressed that clean air should be a fundamental right for all workers.

Performance implications: A majority of respondents (89%) reported that clean indoor air helps them perform their best at work, which also reflects research led by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health that links clean indoor air to increased cognition and productivity.

Identified IAQ factors: Respondents who didn’t consider their workplace air to be very clean identified several factors contributing to poor IAQ, including:

  • Stagnant air or inadequate circulation—reported by 35%
  • Humidity levels—33%
  • Manifestations of mold, stains, dust, and airborne particulates—25%
  • Perceptible odors—25%.

Priority for IAQ over workplace amenities: Both U.S. and Canadian workers placed high value on a clean indoor workspace over conventional workplace perks, ranking it as their foremost preference for workplace enhancements out of six options, in the following order of importance:

  1. Clean indoor workspace, including clean air
  2. Health allowances and/or stipends for gym memberships and exercise equipment
  3. Free coffee/snacks
  4. Free fitness club/gym membership
  5. Social gathering areas, including pool tables, foosball tables, etc.
  6. Happy hours/social events.

Concerns impacting job retention: Around one in three (31%) respondents stated they would consider leaving their employment due to concerns associated with poor indoor air quality.

According to the survey, 37% of the workers reported that their employer had made IAQ improvements in the last year. Among employers that did make IAQ improvements, the top change noticed by 59% of the surveyed employees was the addition of air purifiers.

“Workers today are more knowledgeable of the risks associated with poor air quality and are looking to their employers to make the necessary improvements to keep them safe and productive at work,” said Arti Lyde, Fellowes global general manager of air quality management. “With employees aware of the effect air quality has on their productivity and their health—even going so far as to consider leaving their job because of it—businesses should invest in air quality improvements as a way to invest in their workforce.”

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