Calling All Airheads

Bob Goldman on

Be honest, now: What's so bad about meetings?

There must be something, right?

Whether the meeting is a brainstorming session, status update or an executive spiel on the company's flimsy future, even the best employees do not look forward to being called into a conference room.

As for the worst employees -- and yes, I'm talking thee and me -- we would rather be called into a dentist's office (a defrocked dentist who has replaced the numbing power of Novocain with sonic injections of the Bangtan Boys' latest hits).

Now, you may think that the trouble with meetings is the subject matter or the participants or the lack of artisanal donuts, but the problem may not be who is in the conference room. Chances are, the problem is what is in the conference room air.

It's our old friend carbon dioxide, CO2 to its friends. There's simply not enough oxygen and too much carbon dioxide -- a main ingredient in our exhalations -- which is also the pollutant "whose most detrimental effects are on the mind."

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Or so Veronique Greenwood warns in her recent article "Is Conference Room Air Making You Dumber?" featured in The New York Times.

"Small rooms can build up heat and carbon dioxide from our breath -- as well as other substances -- to an extent that might surprise you," Greenwood writes. "And as it happens, a small body of evidence suggests that when it comes to decision making, indoor air may matter more than we have realized."

I know you don't need any outside help to make you dumber, but if too much carbon dioxide really does disrupt the limited thinking power you have, you can't wait until management resolves to move all meetings outside.

(An excellent meeting site could be the talcum-powder white beaches of Bora Bora, BTW, though you could get sand in your laser pointer.)


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