Feeling sleepy? Employees looking a little like they could do with a nap this afternoon? 3pm coffee run in full swing? Maybe all you need is some fresh air… it could be the best thing you do for both wellbeing and productivity.
As the day wears on in most offices with 9 to 5 ish work hours, CO2 levels steadily rise, generally peaking around mid-afternoon. The CO2 concentration in offices commonly gets up around the 1000 parts per million (ppm) mark which may well sit below the safety level of 5000ppm, but is still potentially high enough to affect our performance.
Until recently, it was thought that levels of CO2 found in offices were unimportant, but a study published in 2013 changed that perception quite dramatically. The research, which focused on decision-making ability, showed that people’s performance was significantly impacted by CO2 at levels of 1000ppm, with our ‘ability to show initiative’ and strategic thinking taking the biggest hit.
Rather ironically, improvements to environmental sustainability through buildings’ energy efficiency have actually contributed to the issue here, with efforts to insulate buildings against variations in outside conditions leading many of us to live out our working lives in hermetically sealed boxes. So, although the building may be performing pretty well, if you can’t throw open the windows and doors and let the fresh air blow in, no one inside will be.
The answer should come, quite literally, as a breath of fresh air. If you want to perform at your best or you’re keen to encourage your team when perhaps they’re feeling a little less than brilliant, then try getting out of the office for a quick walk around the block. Have some umbrellas on hand so that a spot of rain doesn’t put anyone off and just get out there. It doesn’t need to be for long or include a stop at the cafe. Not only is it a great way to improve concentration and performance but can help reduce your risk of a whole host of chronic illnesses and improve overall wellbeing.