NewsResearchStudy finds link between home indoor air quality and cognitive function of remote workers

Research that followed office workers for one year during the pandemic while they worked from home emphasises the impact of indoor air quality on cognitive function.
Content Team1 month ago4 min

As the COVID-19 pandemic forced a significant portion of the global workforce into remote settings, a new study sheds light on the impact of home indoor air quality (IAQ) on the cognitive performance of office workers. Conducted over the course of one year during 2021-2022, the study, led by Dr Anna Young, monitored 206 office workers across the United States as they navigated remote or hybrid-remote work setups.

Behind the research

Participants in the study placed real-time consumer-grade indoor environmental monitors in their home workstation area and bedroom. These monitors tracked indoor air quality metrics such as carbon dioxisde (CO2) levels and thermal conditions, which were measured as indoor heat index—a combination of temperature and relative humidity. Additionally, participants regularly engaged in cognitive function tests through a custom smartphone application, including assessments such as the Stroop color-word interference test, Arithmetic two-digit addition/subtraction test, and Compound Remote Associates Task (cRAT).

Study findings

The study found a non-linear association between indoor thermal conditions and cognitive function outcomes. Participants exhibited poorer cognitive performance on tasks such as the Stroop test and creative problem-solving on the cRAT when their home environments were either too warm or too cool. Furthermore, despite most indoor CO2 levels being below 640 parts per million (ppm), there was still a slight association between higher CO2 levels and decreased cognitive performance on the Stroop test.

What does this mean for employees working from home?

These findings underscore the importance of enhancing home indoor environmental quality for optimal cognitive function during remote work. By addressing factors such as thermal conditions and CO2 levels, employers can potentially improve the cognitive performance and overall well-being of remote workers. This has significant implications for both employees and employers alike, emphasising the need for greater attention to indoor air quality in home office environments.

Read the full study at here.

Content Team

Work in Mind is a content platform designed to give a voice to thinkers, businesses, journalists and regulatory bodies in the field of healthy buildings.

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