china smog
Employees in China are leaving jobs because offices don't have good air quality. Picture: Smog in China in October 2015Reuters

In China, people are moulding their professional decisions around the availability of clean air inside their office spaces. High salaries are no longer enough to keep employees, with many opting out of offices and high level of pollution forcing employers to spend thousands of dollars on installing air-filtration systems.

Bad air days seem to be a long-term phenomenon in the north and east of China, including Beijing and Shanghai, forcing multinationals into spending large amounts of money to install air-purifying systems to retain their staff.

JD Power, a multinational marketing company, has already installed the system, while advertising giant WPP Plc and auditing firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers are in the process of doing it, reports Reuters.

Four Chinese cities in the Shandong province in eastern China have followed Beijing in issuing its first red alert regarding smog this month. Beijing's neighbour Hebei has also issued red alerts for bad air quality days on 23 December, reported AP.

"If a company is willing to reduce pollution inside, it shows it is responsible and will have good growth," said 24-year-old Yao Hui, a resident of Shanghai.

Hui will be leaving her current job since the office space has high levels of pollution, according to the device she uses to measure air quality.

"I'd still have to look for something in marketing, but a clean air environment is an important factor," said Hui.

Individuals across the world living in polluted cities have had to change their lifestyles due to the deteriorating environmental condition.

"I have young children and it is difficult to explain why we can't go out so they can ride their scooters or simply kick a football in the park. On polluted days, when it is high but not horrendous, we have to take the kids to the play areas in malls, rather than go outdoors," New York Times quoted 37-year-old Lina Farrow, who lives in Suzhou, China, as saying.

"I now use a sort of scarf every day to cover my nose and mouth, but it has more psychological benefits than actual practical benefits in terms of protecting myself from the harmful air I breathe. I would like to buy a mask and/or an air purifier, but they are quite expensive, and while they might be useful in the short term, air pollution in New Delhi is a structural problem that requires a more comprehensive long-term solution," said 26-year-old Surabhi Srivastav who lives in New Delhi, India.