We’ve all been there: we’re at the office sitting at our computer and trying to cross off the million things on our to-do list so we can relax when we get home. But, no matter how much you try and how many cups of coffee you have, you find yourself struggling to get it all done.
According to Harvard Business Review, you're not a lazy worker — your lack of productivity is linked to the quality of air in your office.
Researchers wanted to take a look at how air pollution plays a role in white-collar office work because when we think of bad air quality, visions of hard labor and factory work typically comes to mind. But what they found is a wider picture because air pollution is a problem for every worker, even those who sit in front of a computer all day.
The study followed workers at China's largest travel agency call-center. They primarily spent their days in clean offices, answering phones from customers. To conduct the study, the researchers kept detailed logs of each worker and their productivity by measuring how many calls they completed each day, how long their breaks were. and when they logged in.
Turns out, the air quality at each location had a significant impact in how well their workers performed their jobs. “On average, a 10-unit increase in the Air Quality Index (AQI) led to a 0.35 percent decline in the number of calls handled by a Ctrip worker,” the study reads.
“That finding suggests that workers are 5–6 percent more productive when air pollution levels are rated as ‘good’ by the Environmental Protection Agency (AQI of 0–50) versus when they are rated as ‘unhealthy’ (AQI of 150–200).”
If you’re finding yourself reaching for more and more coffee to get you through the afternoon, look into decorating your office with some plants that have been proven to increase air quality or if you find it particularly bad, talk to your work about installing HEPA-filters so the whole office can benefit from fresher air and clearer brains.