Does Workplace Air Quality Affect Your Work?



Research has revealed that air quality on the company premises can affect employees’ physical health as well as their creativity. It has long been recognized that the physical environment of a workplace affects employees’ work and productivity.

The primary topic of a study conducted by academics at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore is that employees’ creativity may be negatively impacted by high concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are chemicals generated by specific items.

Inspired by the Lego Serious Play method, the study focused on 87 undergraduate and postgraduate students working in a controlled environment for six weeks. The technique utilized was called Serious Brick Play.  Three times, the survey respondents were asked to read an overview of a global issue—like mental health or climate change—and then use the Serious Brick Play method to develop a written solution that addressed the issue in detail.

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According to the researchers’ findings in their study that was published in Scientific Journals, participants’ creativity was impacted by high VOC levels. According to the research, a participant’s capacity for creativity might increase by 12% with a 72% decrease in overall volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can come from items like detergents, pesticides, fragrances, paints, and aerosols.

“Our study demonstrates that it could also have an impact on the mind and creative cognition, or the ability to use knowledge in an unconventional way. While most people would correctly associate indoor air quality with effects on the lungs, especially since we just emerged from a pandemic,” said Ng Bing Feng, co-lead researcher of the study.

“Our findings indicate that relatively low total VOC levels, even if well within the accepted threshold, may have an impact on an individual’s creative potential,” Ng stated. She gave the example of how small changes made to the workplace, like lowering the use of aroma diffusers or making sure there is enough ventilation, can have a positive effect on staff members’ productivity.

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