01 October 2019 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Meetings are making us sick, according to a survey from business technology firm the Remark Group.
Its survey of more than 1,000 UK office workers found that 86 per cent of workers get headaches at work, and almost a quarter of people (23 per cent) said they get them every day.
Worryingly, nearly all office workers (91 per cent) reported that they suffer from tiredness or lethargy at work - 41 per cent said they suffer every day.
Other symptoms are also rife, such as dry, itchy or watery eyes (78 per cent), dry throat (76 per cent), and itchy or irritated skin (70 per cent). And only 11 per cent of people described their sleep quality as good during the working week, and a quarter reported that their sleep quality is poor.
Of those surveyed, 80 per cent think that poor indoor air quality could be having a negative impact on their health and the same number said it could be having a similar effect on their productivity at work.
Furthermore, 57 per cent think air quality is affecting their mental or physical health.
Environmental psychologist and workplace wellbeing expert Dr Nigel Oseland said: "Whilst sick building syndrome is still spoken about, it is not as prevalent as it was in the 1990s, when it made the headlines. Office wellbeing is of paramount importance and it is clear that a person's work environment can impact significantly, not only on their health and wellbeing, but also on their performance.
"It is therefore crucial that today's businesses focus on creating healthy buildings which encourage wellness and productivity. They can do so by monitoring air quality in the office and embracing new technologies to ensure that the work environment promotes workplace wellbeing."
He added: "I am shocked by the results of this survey, but not entirely surprised. Whilst we are producing some great-looking, modern offices, we need to pay more attention to basic human needs, to the so-called hygiene factors, such as good indoor air quality, temperature control and noise reduction. The various disciplines within the workplace industry need a concerted effort for a marked step change from sick buildings to healthy buildings. Everyone has the right to work in a healthy workplace."
UK offices have a strong culture of meetings, with almost 90 per cent of people having up to 10 each week and 72 per cent spending up to 11 hours in meetings every week - 34 per cent of these meetings taking place in rooms without windows.
Nearly 90 per cent of office workers said they find themselves nodding off or losing concentration in meetings, while one in four of us believes that meeting rooms are not facilitating productivity or collaboration, and half of people leave meetings thinking they were not successful.
Penelope Harrall of Remark Group said: "The sensors we used monitored nine different elements, with the most important being humidity, temperature and carbon dioxide. By using air-quality sensors, you can maintain the right level of air quality and enable all employees to benefit from a comfortable working environment."
There are multiple solutions to poor indoor air quality. At some companies, simply opening the windows and adding more plants to the office is a great solution. Air purifiers can assist in removing contaminants from the air in a room to improve air quality. There are also living plant walls that combine the benefits of nature with technology.