Many studies have been undertaken – and even college courses developed – to ascertain the best way of enhancing productivity in the office. But it seems that one particular concept has been completely overlooked…and it is free…the air! In a study undertaken by the Harvard School of Public Health, indoor air quality was found to have a significant impact on one’s cognitive abilities. Those who participated in the study who had increased ventilation and lower carbon dioxide and VOC numbers were shown to display “higher cognitive scores.” Strangely enough, according to the study’s lead author – Joseph Allen – it seems that “we’ve been ignoring the 90%. We spend 90% of our time indoors yet indoor environmental quality and its impact on health… are often an afterthought.” Of course this should be the first clue on how to increase productivity at work.
And it seems it is. Given this result – and the fact that projected need for new office space in Manhattan to reach a staggering 92 million square feet in the next two-and-a-half decades, it seems like New York City office building developers are sitting up and taking note. It also has been found that making these office improvements does not have to warrant a financial burden. In a recent Crain’s New York article written by Scott Frank, a few inexpensive suggestions were put forward. These included:
- Design ventilation rates should be elevated to 40 cubic feet per person.
- Demand-control ventilation strategies should be employed to adjust how much ventilation air is delivered to a space according to how many people are there at the time along with indoor pollutant levels (as detected by sensing devices)
- Reduce VOCs by bolstering tenant building standards to include low-emissions
- Break down VOCs with air handlers that have bipolar ionization technology
- Consider using dedicated outside air systems in existing buildings.
Finally, another way to increase air is by encouraging employees to get out of the office once in a while. Being tied to one’s desk 9+ hours each day is a sure-fire way to increase the possibility of a drop in both mental and physical wellbeing.