Survey reveals increased expectations for healthier workplaces

More than two in five office workers are very or extremely worried about their building's indoor air quality (IAQ), report finds.

A new report has helped shed light on the impact of buildings on both occupant well-being and the planet.

More than two in five (43 per cent) surveyed office workers are very or extremely worried about their building’s indoor air quality (IAQ), according to Honeywell’s third annual Healthy Buildings Survey, released this week.

The survey recently queried 2500 office workers in buildings with 500-plus workers in Germany, India, the Middle East, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

While nearly three in four respondents (74 per cent) express some degree of worry about their workplace’s IAQ, 43 per cent of those surveyed say they’re very or extremely worried – a seven-point increase over last year’s results.

This year’s survey also posed questions on sustainability, which disclosed that 38 per cent of respondents feel their employer should be prioritising both better IAQ and reducing the carbon footprint for their building, compared to 40 per cent of respondents who say better IAQ should be prioritised or 22 per cent of respondents who say to prioritise reducing the building’s carbon footprint.

Overall, 91 per cent of respondents say they would sacrifice a job perk or benefit and 26 per cent 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, Honeywell.

“Building owners, operators, and organisations 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. The good news is these goals are not mutually exclusive and ready now solutions exist to help make this a reality.”

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

  • More than nine in 10 (93 per cent) say they have higher expectations for IAQ in their workplace than they did three years ago.
  • Nearly all respondents (97 per cent) believe good IAQ improves their productivity, including 68 per cent who say it contributes a lot. This average is tilted upward by surveyed workers in the Middle East, where 80 per cent believe it contributes a lot, as well as by c-suite workers across all markets (84 per cent).
  • Nearly all surveyed (99 per cent) agree that safe IAQ promotes at least one health-related benefit, including better overall physical health (59 per cent), better overall mental health (56 per cent), fewer allergic reactions such as sneezing and coughing (51 per cent) and fewer airborne contaminants (46 per cent).
  • Most respondents (86 per cent) 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 per cent) in saying they would take action if their employer didn’t make an effort to maintain a healthy indoor environment: 57 per cent would speak with their supervisor or leadership; 36 per cent would rally fellow workers and collectively raise the issue; 34 per cent would ask to work remotely; and more than one in five (21 per cent) would look for another job.
  • While 40 per cent of respondents across all markets say their employer should prioritize improving IAQ over reducing their building’s carbon footprint, 22 per cent want employers to prioritise the latter.
  • More than nine in 10 surveyed workers (91 per cent) would forego job perks if the cost were reinvested in reducing their workplace’s environmental impact; 40 per cent would give up building amenities such as fitness centers or lounges; 34 per cent would part with state-of-the-art tech for their day-to-day work; and a third (33 per cent) would give up free parking or public transit subsidies.

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