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Comparison of productivity and absenteeism effects of indoor environmental quality in offices

J.L. Leyten, A.C. Boerstra, 2003
ventilation rate | thermal comfort | indoor climate | occupant
Bibliographic info: Healthy Buildings 2003 - Proceedings 7th International Conference (7th-11th December 2003) - National University of Singapore - Vol. 3, pp 318-323, 2 Tab., 16 Ref.
Languages: English

This paper is an overview of literature that investigates the effects of general environmentalquality, indoor air pollution, ventilation rates, thermal comfort, temperature control andnumber of persons per workspace on productivity and sickness absenteeism in offices. Thereview includes both self-reported effects and objective measurements of productivity andabsenteeism and both laboratory studies and field investigations. It turns out that a goodgeneral environmental quality increases productivity by 10-15% and decreases sicknessabsenteeism by 2.5 percentpoint. The most influential single factor is the absence of airpollution sources, which increases productivity by 3-7% and decreases sickness absenteeismby 1.5 percentpoint. The results of different studies produce a fairly consistent picture, in thesense that: (1) the effects found through self-report and objective measurement arecomparable; (2) the effects of general environmental quality and of the sum of the discretefactors are comparable; (3) the effects found in laboratory studies and field investigations arecomparable; and (4) the patterns of effects of the discrete factors on productivity on the onehand and on absenteeism on the other are comparable. From this, it is concluded that theestimates of productivity and absenteeism effects are valid for practical purposes. Finally, themedical and psychological mechanisms by which indoor environment influences productivityand absenteeism are discussed. From this it follows that in the case of highautonomy/creativity jobs the estimates for productivity gains need to be corrected downwardsand that in the case of lack of management concern for workers' complaints the estimates forproductivity gains and absenteeism decrease need to be corrected upwards.


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