If you work in an office environment,chances are you’ve attended a few team meetings in a small conference room with your boss and co-workers. In some cases you,once you emerge,you might wonder if it was much hotter in there than the rest of the office. Well,not only are you right about that,but the process could also be affecting your mental well being.
You see,when you’re placed in a small room with no ventilation (because it’s air conditioned) with a number of people,the carbon dioxide and heat tends to increase. At least that is what the New York Times have found. They have carried out over eight studies in the last few years have looked at what changes occur in the atmosphere in a room packed with people for a long time.
It is well known that air contamination can cause asthma,lung conditions,not to mention cancer in some instances. However,it turns out that poor air quality can also affect your ability to think clearly,or at least as well as you can normally.
The main reason behind all this is the drive to make offices more energy efficient,either to keep heat in or to keep them cool (via air conditioners).This is done by installing better insulation,but the process also involves reducing the air flow in / out of the premises,as this air flow increases the loss or gain of heat.
But,whilst technology improvements have made it easier to insulate buildings and install air conditioning units,the process has also meant that we are actually sealing in all the buildup of gases and toxins released by office staff.
You may have noticed one of the effects of this,in that if someone on your office floor has a bad cold,you may well find that more people are catching it than you would expect. This goes for you too of course,in fact there’s a higher chance you’ll catch the bug via the air on your office,than if you encountered them on public transport.
Unfortunately,indoor air quality is not checked as often as outdoors,so scientists can’t say this for sure that this is the case.
What they can confirm however is that a CO2 build-up of over 1,200 parts per million (Pppm) is a bad thing. You see,when you’re absorbing more carbon dioxide than you should,your blood vessels dilate,to try and absorb more oxygen from your blood into your organs. One of the effects of this,some researchers say,is to reduce neural activity between the parts of your brain. The upshot of which is to reduce your brain power and hence your decision-making process is impaired.
Unfortunately,they just can’t be sure to what extent that is. Dr Joseph Allen carried out a similar study in 2016. He suggests that,in order to ensure you have enough air flow to offset the buildup of CO2,a conference room should have at least 6 cubic feet of air flow per minute per person.
Even that may not be sufficient though. Better then would be to equip conference rooms with CO2 sensors,or perhaps just place the room on an outside wall and give them opening windows and not place them in the centre of the floor.That way meetings can take place with a fresh air flow from an open window,without causing issues for the rest of the floor.
Who knows,maybe this introduction of clean air may even give your employees greater brain power so that they can better swap ideas to handle the situation you’re having a meeting for in the first place..
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