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All I Need Is The Air That I Breath To Be More Productive

Tired worker
06th December 2018
 

C02 levels in offices are silently damaging UK productivity a new study has found, with the failure to regulate environmental conditions having a negative impact on workers’ cognitive functions.

In study, workers were able to work up to 60% faster in lower CO2 concentrations. An increased intake of CO2 can lead to poor decision making, slower reaction times and increased tiredness among employees. The study also recognised that high CO2 levels can cause offices to feel ‘stuffy’, which is mistakenly put down to high temperatures but CO2 levels are rarely monitored.

The results from the first-ever practical study into UK indoor office environments did reveal there is a double-whammy effect if temperatures are too high (warm or cold) and there are also high levels of CO2.

As the government and business community continues to examine new ways of boosting the UK’s productivity levels, it’s hoped that a greater understanding of the detrimental impact of CO2, as well as fluctuating temperatures, on employee outputs will lead to concerted action to improve air quality in offices.

 

Supporters

Backed by FM company EMCOR UK, the two year research initiative was led by academics at Oxford Brookes University and LCMB Building Performance and supported by Innovate UK - the government agency tasked with boosting innovation in the UK economy. This forms part of the Whole Life Performance Plus (WLP+) project, which brings together a consortium of leading experts in building performance, property development and facilities management.

 

Putting CO2 to Work

Workplaces taking part in the study – including NATS and Kings College London – were tested over the two years, with Internet of Things (IoT) enabled sensors installed to monitor fluctuating CO2 levels. During this time, employees were sent numerical, proofreading and Stroop tests via email up to three times a day as part of the study. A methodology was then used to calculate the impact of CO2and temperature on perceived productivity in those workplaces.

With lower CO2 levels, employees’ test scores improved by up to 12%. And in one of the buildings tested, people worked 60% faster with reduced CO2 concentrations, completing tests in a mean time of 8.2 minutes, compared with 13.3 minutes with more CO2 in the atmosphere.

 

Fresh air

The study reported that too often the opening of windows in offices is highly controlled, meaning that the quality of the indoor atmosphere is heavily reliant on air conditioning. This means, for example, when new offices are built, they are ‘sealed’ and air conditioned as standard. Even if buildings meet ventilation standards, this doesn’t mean that high CO2 levels are being effectively detected and reduced.

 

Productivity

Currently, UK productivity is 26.2% lower than Germany based on GDP per hour worked – and 22.8 % less than France. Despite 10 years of tactics to help close the gap, this is the first time environmental factors have been considered.

Picture: The failure to regulate environmental conditions is making workers tired and unproductive.

Article written by Brian Shillibeer – published 06th December 2018

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