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Cleansiness: The key to productivity?

Posted on: Monday, February 1st, 2016

Cleaning is one of the most important aspects of running a college or university building.

Failing to ensure the cleanliness of a building can have a detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of all of those who use it.

Within any public building, particularly where children are concerned, it is necessary to ensure that significant time and resources are invested into the hygiene of the building.

However, another consideration that is often not spoken about is the link between the tidiness and appearance of an environment, and the improvements in concentration and productivity.

This is particularly important when it comes to education. A number of studies have emerged over the last few years that demonstrate that the tidier a building is, the more it will be conducive to study and work.

For example, recent findings published by the World Green Building Council, entitled 'Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices: The Next Chapter for Green Building', showed that the layout and lighting of a building can have an equally powerful impact on those who work within it.

It said that the air quality of a property, as well as the lighting can affect the way people work. The report also found that a well-ventilated office can help to boost productivity by 11 per cent.

A separate, more dated report entitled 'Cleanliness and Learning in Higher Education', was conducted by Jeffrey Campbell, Ph.D, chair of the facilities management program at Brigham Young University. It showed that the level of cleanliness has a direct impact on the ability to learn.

The 2008 study categorised the different levels of cleanliness, with level one representing orderly spotlessness and level two denoting ordinary tidiness.

Level three was categorised as casual inattention (for example, when things are kept out of place), while level four described 'moderate dinginess'. 

The most severe rating was level five, which represents 'unkempt neglect'.

Its figures revealed that the vast majority (88 per cent) of students reported that the lack of cleanliness becomes a distraction to their learning ability when a building's tidiness is ranked at level four or five.

Furthermore, the survey showed that 78 per cent of students indicated that levels of cleanliness have an impact on their health.

In other words, a tidy building was perceived to aid not only learning, but also their physical wellbeing.

Respondents also stated that when their working environment is untidy, it serves to exacerbate their allergies, boosts the chances of rodent infection, and spreads germs.

It was also found to have a negative impact on the general mindset of students, who stated that a dirty building heightened their stress levels.

Not only does the study highlight the importance of ensuring that particular attention is paid to promoting clean and healthy schools and universities, but it also shows that students are actively interested in the appearance of their working environment.

In fact, not only are students interested in their learning environment, the study also showed that many are willing to get actively involved in helping to keep it clean.

The findings revealed that 80 per cent of respondents said they should be very involved to moderately involved in keeping campus buildings clean, while only 20 per cent reported negatively about being involved in campus cleaning. 

Additionally, the overwhelming majority of those polled said that the classrooms were more conducive to learning, followed by library space and personal space.

The study also demonstrated the high expectations that students have about their working environment.

It showed that 84 per cent of students desire level one or level two of cleanliness to create a decent learning environment.

Therefore, for colleges or universities hoping to bring out the very best in their students, it is clear that more steps must be taken to maintain the appearance of their buildings.

By Janine Griffiths