I live and work in a small country in Europe. I work as a software developer, and the air quality in my office is poor.

The office is about 10x4 square meters with 33 people in it. We have no ventilation system, no air conditioning system, and my coworkers don't want to open the windows.

Plus in winter/autumn we have heating system too. I feel heat from heating system and heat from people. Not to mention there is no ventilation for 9 hours. Every day I get a strong headache from lack of oxygen. This is wrecking my health and keeping me from working at my best.

When I try to open windows, my co-workers complain that they feel cold. I don't see any reason to leave the office for 10min and get fresh the air.

Eventually I forced our managers to issue a paper about air ventilation. They said that three times in a day I legally (lol) have right to open windows and freshen the air for 15 minutes. And you know what? I open the windows and colleagues don't leave. They wait until I leave then close the windows.
In the happy days where I can open windows three times a day it is still not enough oxygen. Everyday I come home tired and I don't want to do anything at home.

My biggest problem is that all four places I have worked, the experience is the same.

My country is small and there are not a lot of programming companies, so I can't change my workplace. I don't understand this guys. They don't want to do simple ventilation - the most valuable thing at work which influences productivity. I just don't understand.

My main question is: what can I do about such poor air quality in the office?

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  • 3
    Please could you use paragraphs – Ed Heal Jan 10 at 16:47
  • @Ed Heal, I'm sorry, i wrote on this site first time from phone. – NoImagination Jan 10 at 17:10
  • @Joe Strazzere, Belarus – NoImagination Jan 10 at 17:10
  • What is the temperature in the office? – sf02 Jan 10 at 17:16
  • 1
    Are you allowed to put a fan on your desk? – sf02 Jan 10 at 17:26

My biggest problem is that all four places I have worked, the experience is the same.

Yeah, if no one else is having the problem maybe there is something you can do to adapt better.

My suggestions:

  1. Ask if you can sit near one of the windows where a lot of air comes in when it is open.

  2. Bring in a plant for your desk. There are several kinds that work well indoors - plants emit oxygen and may clean the air to some extent.

  3. Go outside whenever you can (lunch, breaks, etc.)

  4. Consider that it might not be oxygen that is the problem since your co-workers seem fine (they don't want the windows open)

  5. Try to get brighter and more "sunlight like" bulbs in your home. You don't say where you're from, but lack of sunlight can cause some similar symptoms including depression.

I'm in the US (since you asked) and don't have this problem.
My biggest air quality problems are when the heat/air system breaks down and when someone either microwaves fish or burns their popcorn.

  • 1
    +1 for plant suggestion. – jcmack Jan 10 at 17:48
  • thank you very much for advice. I'll bring a plant! – NoImagination Jan 11 at 9:45

If you have a problem with a workplace, it's likely the workplace. If you have a problem at four workplaces, and your colleagues don't seem to have a problem, it's probably because of you. Different people react differently to things.

Have you talked to a doctor about what's happening to you? Have you found what sorts of places feel bad to you and what sorts feel good, in specific? If you know what's specifically bothering you, you might be better able to come up with a plan to live with it.

Don't take this too lightly. You only get one body, and you have to take care of health issues.


Are you sure it's related to the air? Sometimes other factors like not drinking enough water, bad quality food, lack of exercise lead to feel like we lack some "fresh air". I personally experienced that, and it made me realize a few wrong things in my habits.

The bigger problem is everywhere where i worked it was the same

If it's everywhere the same, it means that people adapt well to those environment given also that they don't want to open the window. You might want to re-assess if it's the environment the issue or you, by maybe consulting a doctor to have a scientific point of view of your situation.

What you can do:

  • Are you allowed to take breaks out of lunch hours? Is there smokers in the team? Take the opportunity to go outside even if you don't smoke.
  • You are talking about air conditioning, so the temperature is regulated? Can can try relocating under the air exhaust, or if the air is the issue, to the other side of it.
  • thank you very much for your polite answer. I appreciate it very much. About habits - i drink a lot of water during the day and go outside because they're is the only thing that let me feel little better in this conditions. I do go outside but still it is not enough, because i breathe every second of my life :(. I can't regulate temperature but i need ventilation much more than conditioning. sorry for misunderstanding. the problem is absence of ventilation – NoImagination Jan 10 at 17:16

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