If you work in an office environment,chances are you’ve had at least a few team meetings in a small conference room with your boss and co-workers. In some cases you,once you get out,you might wonder if it was much warmer 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 health.
You see,when you’re placed in a small room with no ventilation (because it’s air conditioned) with a number of people,the Co2 and heat tends to build up. At least that is what the New York Times have found. They have carried out at least eight studies in the last few years have analysed the changes occur in the atmosphere in a room packed with people for a long time.
It is well known that air pollution can cause asthma,lung conditions,not to mention cancer in some cases. 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 buildings use less energy,either to keep heat in or to keep them cool (via air conditioners).This is done by using 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 AC cooling units,the process has also meant that we are in essence 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 one person on your office floor has a bad cold,you may well find that more people are catching it than is normal. This goes for you too of course,in fact there’s a higher likelihood you’ll catch it via the air on your office,than if you encountered them on public transport.
However,indoor air quality isn’t checked as much as outdoors,so scientists don’t have a lot of information to go on.
They do say however is that a CO2 build-up of over 1,200 parts per million (Pppm) is not good. You see,when you’re inhaling more carbon dioxide than is good for you,your blood vessels increase in size,to try and get 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 a bare minimum of 6 cubic feet of air flow per minute per person.
Even that may not be enough. 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 compromising the temperature on the rest of the floor.
Who knows,maybe this interchange of fresh air may even give your employees greater brain power so that they can better interchange ideas to solve the problem you’re having a meeting for in the first place..
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