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Air quality in offices and other workplaces : does it impact business performance ?

Breathing is one of the few actions we perform unconsciously. We naturally pay attention to the water or food we consume... but rarely to the quality of the air - which we actually inhale at a rate of 12,000 liters per day - and even less to the indoor air quality, despite spending 90% of our time in enclosed environments that can be up to 8 times more polluted than outdoor air. The situation is gradually changing: the effects of air quality on health are now recognized as a public health issue 1, and the health crisis has reminded us how indoor air can be a vector for the transmission of diseases. Simultaneously, the transformation of the younger generations' approach to work and the growing awareness of corporate social responsibility (CSR) encourage companies to better consider the quality of life at work for their employees.

« Protecting the health of our customers and our employees is an absolute priority, which is why today we are making every effort to carefully equip our offices. »

(Testimonial from Dynveo, a French nutraceutical laboratory and user of TEQOYA air purifiers)

Even driven by the best intentions, the company cannot escape the economic constraints that determine its sustainability. The more numerous the benefits of an investment, the more efficiently and quickly the company can implement it for all its employees.

Are the effects of good air quality in offices limited to just improving the quality of life at work? What can be its other benefits? What are the points to be cautious about to avoid degrading other aspects of the working environment? We offer you some specific analysis elements for the tertiary sector and office spaces, to demonstrate how air quality in offices is also a productivity lever for companies2.

air quality and business performance

I - Indoor air quality (IAQ), quality of working life and productivity : immediate efficiency for employees

According to the employees themselves, the work environment has a significant or very significant influence on their "ability to concentrate" (92% of them) and their "productivity" (89%)3. Scientific studies support this perception from the employees.

Improving employees' daily performance

Several studies conducted on the links between IAQ and cognitive performance show that optimizing the air quality in offices contributes to improving not only the well-being of employees but also their cognitive performance.

Some of these studies highlight the positive effects of good IAQ :

  • In Denmark, the study by Wargocki et al. (1999), based on typing tests, observed a performance improvement of 6.5% and a reduction in error rates by 18% when indoor air quality was improved4.
  • Tests conducted in work conditions show an increase of 2.5 to 5% in performance when the ventilation rates are increased with constant emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the room5.

While others observe the negative impacts of bad air quality in offices :

  • Studies conducted between 2016 and 2021 by Harvard professors6, sometimes across multiple countries7 or aimed at evaluating the impact of environmental pollution on the cognitive development of schoolchildren in the Barcelona region 8 suggest that poor indoor air quality - fine or ultrafine particles PM1 and PM2.5; CO2 - significantly impairs employees' cognitive abilities, even at concentration levels commonly found in buildings.
  • Works published in 20219 observe a slowdown in response times and throughput (correct responses per minute) when the concentration of PM2.5 and/or CO2 increases.
  • Very recently, in April 2023, a scientific study indicates that air pollution with fine or ultrafine particles (PM1.0 or PM2.5) significantly increases reasoning errors or response time, even in the case of short-term exposure or at relatively low levels10. In June 2023, another study focuses on the effects of CO2 11: even short-term exposure to high levels of carbon dioxide indoors affects cognitive performance, especially for complex tasks. These detrimental effects are exacerbated with prolonged exposure, which is why the study recommends a concentration limit of less than 1,000 ppm in workplaces requiring high cognitive abilities, as well as a duration of exposure to high CO2 concentrations of less than 2 hours for the execution of complex cognitive tasks.
  • In China, where pollution is particularly significant, a study suggests that productivity is reduced by 10 to 15% during periods of heavy pollution12.

air quality, health and productivity

Reducing airborne transmission of viruses can consequently lead to a decrease in the number of sick leaves or absenteeism

Viruses travel through the air, and we release them by coughing, talking, or even breathing. These lightweight particles can remain suspended for several minutes and be inhaled by other individuals. In addition to the 3 to 10% of the population affected by the flu each year, we must also consider respiratory system infections such as colds or bronchitis.

According to a recent literature review13, surveys conducted in various countries suggest that 20 to 25% of weekly contacts between healthy and infected individuals occur in their professional activities, while modeling studies suggest that, on average, 16% (between 9 and 33%) of influenza transmissions occur in the workplace.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted this phenomenon: according to a study by the Pasteur Institute14 on the places of Covid transmission, approximately 29% of infections outside the home occur in the workplace.

For both the flu and Covid-19, many infected individuals go to their workplace, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Therefore, a company has a vested interest in taking action to limit the airborne transmission of viruses : by implementing barrier measures and alsoimproving air quality in the offices. By doing so, a reduction in sick leaves could reach up to 20%15.

Reducing absenteeism by reducing pathogenic environments

One in thirteen people worldwide suffers asthma or respiratory allergies. The prevalence of allergies is continuously increasing in developed countries, and 10 to 15% of asthma cases have an occupational origin16.

The National Academy of Medicine specifically indicates that respiratory allergies are the leading cause of productivity loss worldwide, surpassing cardiovascular diseases. Persistent allergic rhinitis alone is responsible for approximately 6 million days of lost work and 28 million restricted work days annually in the US17.

More broadly, poor air quality can cause or increase various discomforts, even in individuals without respiratory problems, such as headaches, fatigue, eye or throat irritation... all of which directly impact individuals' capacities, regardless of age. For example, school absenteeism increases by 10 to 20% in primary schools with an increase of 1000 ppm of CO218.

Improving air quality in offices is not only about better consideration for employees with allergies, but it is also an important Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) concern for all stakeholders. The workplace should be healthy to avoid becoming a factor in the development of respiratory illnesses.

air quality and cognitive performance.

II - IAQ and quality of working life : A Sustainable Performance Lever for Companies

Attracting and retaining increasingly mobile employees

The younger generations' approach to work is transformed: they expect companies to consider societal, environmental, and health issues. In the balance between quality of life and professional success, they place much greater importance on the former dimension than their predecessors. To fully engage, they focus on the brand image of their company, provided it is supported by concrete actions and not just communication campaigns.

An enterprise that takes care of its employees' work environment is perceived positively. According to the previously mentioned study19, this is an important dimension for "friendliness" (90%), "enjoyment in coming to work" (89%), "perception of the company's consideration for its employees" (83%), "pride in working for the company" (73%), "stress" (79%), and "creativity" (74%).

Recruiting and training a new collaborator is an investment for the company that pays off in the long term: high turnover hinders the development of the business. In a highly competitive context where recruitment and retention challenges impact many industries, companies cannot overlook healthy and pleasant working conditions to strengthen employee engagement.

Meeting stakeholders' expectations

Several general meetings of large companies considered less virtuous were disrupted in the spring of 2023. Beyond the activist aspect of some actions, they signify a trend among all economic actors to expect companies to demonstrate better exemplarity in their consideration of environmental, health, and societal issues.

The emergence of alternative and participatory financing methods, green loans, interest indexing based on the virtuous dimension of projects, the rise of ESG criteria for investment funds, and the development of labels highlighting the well-being at work of companies are all factors that encourage businesses to better consider the health of their employees. This is a guarantee of a positive image with investors, clients, media... and, consequently, obtaining financing or accessing new markets.

In summary, a good quality of work life, including good air quality, allows the company to improve the performance of its employees, retain them, and better meet the expectations of stakeholders. It is, therefore, an essential element of productivity and the sustainability of their business activities.

Indeed, it is crucial not to lose sight of a holistic approach, as good air quality alone would have limited impact. We live in a multisensory environment, and well-being must be considered in all its dimensions: air quality in offices, of course, but also acoustic, visual, psychological comfort, and more. A comprehensive approach is necessary to ensure a truly supportive and conducive work environment for employees.

air quality and productivity

III - Quality of work-life (QWL) in all its dimensions and energy efficiency: adopting a holistic approach

Experiences in sensory design have been conducted, notably by the Italian architectural firm Il Prisma, showing how all five senses impact concentration, memory, and learning.

Noise is the primary workplace nuisance, and this also applies to tertiary sector employees. Six out of ten workers report being bothered by noise, one in five identifies noise from equipment as one of the main sources of discomfort, and half of them affirm that noise leads to a loss of productivity20.

Wellness also involves the visually pleasant aspect of the work environment, the aesthetics, and the discreetness of the equipment.

Finally, the built environment is constructed for humans but must also preserve the planet for future generations. Environmental performance requirements now apply to office buildings, whether they are new constructions with RE2020 regulations or existing ones with the Tertiary Decree. These regulations impose ambitious objectives for companies to reduce their energy consumption. Improving the quality of work life must consider these imperatives to avoid impacting the carbon footprint of office buildings.

IV - What practical, easy-to-install, and quickly profitable solutions to implement? Lessons learned from the offices of the Beaumanoir Group in China

This article has demonstrated the necessity for companies to improve the quality of work life, particularly indoor air quality, for better productivity while avoiding degrading the visual and acoustic environment. It is also essential to find solutions that do not worsen their carbon footprint and are quick, easy to install, and maintain.

Founded in 1981 by Roland Beaumanoir, the Beaumanoir Group is one of the leading players in the ready-to-wear industry in France. From its headquarters in Saint-Malo to its presence in Shanghai, it dresses men and women in the colors of its brands: Cache-Cache, BRÉAL, Bonobo, Scottage, and Morgan.

In 2017, Romain Millet, then CEO of Beaumanoir in China, where pollution is a public health issue, made the decision to equip the 2,000m2 office space, accommodating 400 employees, with TEQOYA air purifiers to ensure their well-being at work and protect their overall health.

air quality in offices

After a tender launched among several companies specialized in this field, he selected TEQOYA for three main reasons :

  • The ionization technology allows for a combination of air quality, visual comfort, and acoustic comfort, as it is silent and less visible compared to devices equipped with filters ;
  • The operating and maintenance costs are extremely low ;
  • The long-term support and commitment of the teamsare essential to ensure the sustainable performance of the equipment.

Two other points can be mentioned, even though their impact was less significant in Beaumanoir's decision-making process :

  • The first point directly concerns the quality of work life: the compact size of TEQOYA air purifiers preserves the employees' workspace.
  • Positioned at each workstation, the scope of the air purifiers is targeted to the useful air volume. In the context of Beaumanoir's open spaces, which are spacious, open, and have high ceilings (3.5m), this flexibility in installation avoids purifying the significant air volume of all spaces. Compared to a conventional filter-based device, the equipment is optimized, and the energy consumption for purification is significantly controlled.

The solution implemented by TEQOYA was subject to two measurement campaigns, one week apart, to validate its effectiveness. The result : particle pollution was reduced by three times in the premises of the Group! In such vast spaces, this result is particularly remarkable.

To contribute to the well-being of your employees and enhance their productivity, consider adopting an air treatment solution that is comfortable, eco-friendly, energy-efficient, silent, and beautifully designed! Contact us at the email address


  1. National Health and Environment Plan - PNSE 4, published in 2022 in France.
  2. CDC (Center for Disease Control and prevention) publications on air quality in the US.

  3. TEQOYA conducts dedicated analyses for other sectors. Find, in particular, our experiment conducted with a cabinetmaker, a profession particularly sensitive to wood dust.
  4. The relationship between the work environment and employees' wellness, conducted by OpinionWay for CD&B, 2017 :
  5. Influence of indoor environmental quality in offices on occupants' performance: evaluation methods, available data, and associated economic costs, 2013 :
  6. Ozmoz technical framework
  7. Environ Health Perspect, 2016 :
  8. Office air quality may affect employees' cognition, productivity, 2021 :
  9. Association between Traffic-Related Air Pollution in Schools and Cognitive Development in Primary School Children: A Prospective Cohort Study, 2015 :
  10. Associations between acute exposures to PM2.5 and carbon dioxide indoors and cognitive function in office workers: a multicountry longitudinal prospective observational study, 2021  : et Impacts of Indoor Air Quality on Cognitive Function, 2021 :
  11. Short-term exposure to indoor PM2.5 in office buildings and cognitive performance in adults: An intervention study :
  12. Short-term exposure to indoor carbon dioxide and cognitive task performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis, Juin 2023 :
  13. Severe Air Pollution and Labor Productivity, 2015 :
  14.  Influenza in workplaces: transmission, workers' adherence to sick leave advice and European sick leave recommendations, 2016 :
  15. Comcor study on SARS-CoV-2 contamination sites: where do the French get infected?, 2020, updated 2021:
  16. Estimation National Library of Medecine
  17. Health Insurance
  18. In-depth review of allergic rhinitis,, 2020:
  19. "Building for Children's Health" by Dr. Suzanne Déoux, Medieco Editions, 2010
  20. "New Workspaces and Employee Experience: Science - Innovations - Proposals" by La Fabrique Spinoza, 2019:

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