The typical mid-afternoon slump has been explained… And the cause isn’t what you might think.
Research by the NHS has identified that 2.16 PM is the least productive time of the working day. However rather than being due to the post-lunch ‘food coma’, the mid-afternoon slump is actually caused by rising CO2 levels in the workplace.
As office workers convert the available oxygen in their workspace into carbon dioxide, the CO2 levels rise. Whilst this is not dangerous, the increase in CO2 can lead directly to reduced concentration and decision-making performance. It can even cause headaches and nausea.
Typically the concentration of CO2 outdoors is about 380ppm (parts per million); however indoors this can increase to several thousand ppm over the course of a day.
So how can you stifle the post-lunch slump in your workplace? It appears that the modest potted plant may be the way to go.
Plants supply most of the world’s oxygen via photosynthesis, a process which requires carbon dioxide, water and sunlight. Keeping plants in your office will reduce the CO2 level, provide more oxygen, and make the place look nice.
There are numbers to back up the NHS’s conclusion. Three separate experiments by universities in the UK, Australia and the Netherlands found that keeping plants in the workplace can increase productivity by as much as 15%. They also found that employee satisfaction increased by up to 40%.
As if pre-empting the research, TREExOFFICE is a prototype pop-up office situated in a London park. Designed by Groundwork London, the office is built around a tree and is intended to blur the lines between the office and the natural world. With Wi-Fi and its own power supply the office is available for group hire at weekends.
Although traditional working structures are steadily changing, projects such as TREExOFFICE may still be some way from becoming the norm. However the benefits of keeping plants in the office and staving off the afternoon slump may be enough to justify getting a few more pots for your workplace.