Design and Construction, Heating and Cooling, Maintenance and Operations, Sustainability/Business Continuity

Office Workers Worldwide Increasingly Worry About IAQ, Sustainability

More than two in five (43%) surveyed office workers are very or extremely worried about their workplace’s indoor air quality (IAQ)—a seven-point increase over last year’s results, according to Honeywell’s third annual Healthy Buildings Survey. Furthermore, nearly three in four respondents (74%) express some degree of worry about their building’s IAQ.

The study recently queried 2,500 office workers in buildings with 500-plus workers in Germany, India, the Middle East, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This year’s survey also posed questions on sustainability, which disclosed that 38% of respondents feel their employer should be prioritizing both better IAQ and a reduced carbon footprint.

Overall, a compelling 91% of respondents say they would sacrifice a job perk or benefit—and 26% of those say they would sacrifice part of their salary or bonus—if the funds were invested in reducing the environmental impact of their building.

“These findings show a considerable percentage of workers want a workplace that offers better indoor air quality and has less of an impact on the environment,” said Manish Sharma, vice president and general manager of Sustainable Buildings at Honeywell.

“Building owners, operators, and organizations should take notice: Occupants who are more aware of the impact a building can have on both their well-being and the environment will likely expect change,” Sharma added. “The good news is these goals are not mutually exclusive, and ready-now solutions exist to help make this a reality.”

Key Takeaways

The report provides comparisons across the five markets surveyed, including the following highlights: 

  • More than nine in 10 (93%) say they have higher expectations for IAQ in their workplace than they did three years ago.
  • Nearly all respondents (97%) believe good IAQ improves their productivity, including 68% who say it contributes a lot. This average is tilted upward by surveyed workers in the Middle East, where 80% believe it contributes a lot, as well as by C-suite workers across all markets (84%).
  • Nearly all surveyed (99%) agree that safe IAQ promotes at least one health-related benefit, including better overall physical health (59%), better overall mental health (56%), fewer allergic reactions such as sneezing and coughing (51%), and fewer airborne contaminants (46%).

ALSO READ: Improving IAQ Decreases Health Risks and Boosts Efficiencies

  • Most respondents (86%) feel their employers have responsibility for IAQ—and that limiting investment in IAQ technology shows a low commitment to employee safety and well-being.
  • Surveyed workers are nearly unanimous (97%) in saying they would take action if their employer didn’t make an effort to maintain a healthy indoor environment: 57% would speak with their supervisor or leadership; 36% would rally fellow workers and collectively raise the issue; 34% would ask to work remotely; and more than one in five (21%) would look for another job.
  • While 40% of respondents across all markets say their employer should prioritize improving IAQ over reducing their building’s carbon footprint, 22% want employers to prioritize the latter.
  • More than nine in 10 surveyed workers (91%) would forego job perks if the cost were reinvested in reducing their workplace’s environmental impact; 40% would give up building amenities such as fitness centers or lounges; 34% would part with state-of-the-art tech for their day-to-day work; and a third (33%) would give up free parking or public transit subsidies.

“It’s interesting to see that surveyed workers are willing to sacrifice work perks if the costs are reinvested to help the building where they work have less of an impact on the environment,” said Sharma.

The full report is available here. Notably, Honeywell also recently released results of its quarterly Environmental Sustainability Index, which showed business leaders remain bullish on sustainability goals despite economic concerns.

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