I read an article in the Times just yesterday. The headline was well-written. Written as if the writer had me, just me, in mind. Accordingly, it caught my attention.
The headline read: “Is Conference Room Air Making You Dumber?”
The article goes on to discuss the notion that the modern sealed office building (which helps companies save money on heating and cooling) might lead to an excess of CO2 in offices, closed conference rooms in particular.
The Times reports: “Inhalation of carbon dioxide at much higher levels than you’d ever expect to see in a workplace has to dilate blood vessels in the brain, reduce neuronal activity, and decrease the amount of communication between brain regions.”
Scientists tested office workers in offices with different levels of CO2. “They had office workers come into a mock workplace for six days and take the same kind of problem-solving test while exposed to various concentrations of both carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds commonly found in office buildings.
“As levels of carbon dioxide rose from 550 ppm to 945 ppm to 1400 ppm, subjects’ scores under most headings declined substantially…’What we saw were these striking, really quite dramatic impacts on decision-making performance, when all we did was make a few minor adjustments to the air quality in the building,’ said Joseph Allen, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health who led the study.”
To any logical person, the deleterious effects of confinement and stale air on decision-making should come as no surprise. Who doesn’t think better when she has, first, a walk around the block, a visit to the bookstore, or an hour looking at Van Goghs in a museum? Who doesn’t do better solving problems when they have some time to walk away from the problem?
But in today’s hypomanic agency world, where we’re pinned to the cross of speed and productivity, we’d rather have something fast and ineffective than something slightly done on a more moderate schedule and very effective.
That’s led me to conclude something very simple. Perhaps briefs should include fair-balance copy like pharmaceutical commercials.
Perhaps actual conference rooms should, too.
WARNING: Working on this brief could possibly result in diminished brain function, shallow-breathing, sweating, hives, boils and dry eyes. Cases where people have lost their taste, discernment and judgment are not uncommon. Those laboring on this assignment frequently have thoughts of career suicide, employment dysfunction and in some severe cases desire to find a job at a 7-11 as a hotdog spinner. Prolonged exposure to this brief could lead to headaches, vomiting, dizziness and severe nausea. If feelings of depression, elation, sadness, ebullience or, even, meh persist, consult your associate creative director, creative director, group creative director, executive creative director, deputy chief creative officer, North America, chief creative director, North America, deputy global chief creative officer, global chief creative officer, your therapist or your therapist’s receptionist. If any of these symptoms occur or persist, discontinue usage, unless you’re enjoying yourself. Do not operate heavy machinery, or even light machinery, including iPhones, iPads, MacBooks or any other machinery. Void where prohibited by law. Bet with your head, not over it. Results may vary. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Professional driver, closed course. SEE OUR AD IN COOKING LIGHT.