Article from: Knight Frank
The rising importance of health and wellbeing is likely to change several aspects of our lives – especially in the way we work. As our office environments move under the microscope, we explore how the air we breathe can impact our productivity and cognitive function.
In 1986, the WHO coined the term ‘sick building syndrome’, a phenomenon still referenced today as a product of poor indoor office environments, predominately poor air quality. At the time, it was estimated that workforces in up to 30% of new and refurbished buildings across the globe were victims to it, as efforts to conserve energy meant several workspaces were airtight. Symptoms include headaches, sore eyes, tiredness and difficulty concentrating.
It’s true that modern workplaces have started to welcome the importance of wellbeing, many offices include breakout spaces, meditation rooms and fitness studios, but the focus on the impact of air quality has been minimal.
Niall Ingham, Head of London at AirRated, explained: “Productivity and performance are largely dictated by CO2. Workplace-specific studies have shown that elevated levels of CO2 can reduce productivity by up to 11%. When CO2 levels increase, our cognitive performance decreases, forcing us to feel lethargic. In high enough levels, this can cause headaches, aggravate respiratory problems and increase stress”.
“We have all gone into meetings feeling refreshed, only to become sleepy in the stuffiness of the room. Often, CO2 is to blame. In fact, a small increase in CO2 (by 1000ppm) can impair cognitive performance in the same way that 1.5 pints of beer can in men, and 2 pints of beer can in women”.
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