Mindfulness, regular breaks and exercise may help to improve your focus but if you’re working in an office or classroom where these things are not options, you’ll quickly learn that another factor at play is the air quality in your environment. This is why engaging the services of a facility cleaning service is essential, to ensure the air you breathe is uncontaminated, clean and pure.
Research conducted in the UK has shown that 20% of the oxygen that you breathe in is used by the brain to carry out key functions. It also indicated that by increasing the amount of fresh air consumed, you can improve mental focus and concentration
The blog will cover what is hiding in the air you breathe, why people should be striving for better air quality in work and school environments and how this can be achieved.
Indoor air contaminants:
There are a number of different types of particulate matter (PM) suspended in the air that could cause us harm.
These include chemicals such as carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde. However, there are many other common contaminants such as fibres from carpets or flooring, mould particles, dust mites, viruses, animal dander, pollen and bacteria. There could also be excess moisture in the air which can cause health problems too.
How does this impact concentration?
The link between high air quality and productivity is being studied more and more, particularly after the Covid-19 pandemic, the work from home trend and the subsequent mass return to the office.
The research has largely shown that the two are very much linked, with one study from Harvard University carrying out tests on subjects in an indoor environment where the PM rate was increased and ventilation was lowered.
It ultimately established that the people taking part could not complete a set of tasks as efficiently and accurately as when the air quality in their environment was better. They noted slower response times as well as more mistakes and a general difficulty concentrating.
Naturally, this is a disaster if you have a large number of people trying their best to learn, study and work in an environment with poor air quality. But improving this is not as easy as just opening a window.
For example, some organisations are based in the city centre where air pollution from vehicles is high, and while cracking a window may let some colder air in, this may not necessarily lead to a more hygienic environment.
As well as this, some schools or businesses do not allow the opening of windows for safety reasons, which rules that ventilation option out. Even if your building has an air conditioning system, this can gather contaminants from outside and circulate them indoors unintentionally.
Yet, high quality indoor air is becoming increasingly important to companies as they ask themselves ‘if clean air results in improved productivity, surely we should be investing in ways to achieve this?’
How can indoor air quality be improved?
Despite this, there are a number of ways to reduce contaminants and improve the quality of the air in your office or classroom.
Firstly, keeping the environment clean is key. Research indicates that a clean house may be a healthier house so focussing on the following can make a big difference:
- Hoover the rooms at least twice to three times a week to reduce dust, animal dander and fibres. You should always use a hoover that contains a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
- Regularly laundering curtains, upholstery, cushion covers and dusting blinds can really help to cut down on the accumulation of dust. These should be washed at a boiling temperature to kill all mould, bacteria and viruses trapped in the fabrics.
- Items such as desks, shelves, cupboards, books, keyboards, lamps and televisions are also big dust collectors, however they are all necessary in a working environment. So you should remember to dust these at least every second day.
- Remove any plants that are prone to growing mould. People often champion houseplants as helpful for indoor air quality, but because they are in a warm and humid environment, they are very prone to growing mould, which releases spores into the air that we breathe in.
Other options include investing in an air purifier, which can trap dust particles and prevent them from settling on surfaces. Again, this should contain a HEPA grade filter, although it’s important to note that this will need to be monitored and changed out for a fresh one as necessary.
This device alone won’t solve your problem though, you’ll likely need to use this in conjunction with a thorough cleaning routine. This can be extremely time consuming though and it’s neither the teacher, student, office worker or manager’s responsibility to stay after hours and do it.
Work life balance is considered more important than ever so outsourcing your facility’s cleaning to a specialised commercial cleaning company can be a great option for taking care of this. Poor focus, tiredness, numerous breaks and slower response times can greatly reduce productivity, so if you feel your employees or students are struggling with these issues, you may need to invest in improving the air quality within the environment.