The idea of working in an office presents a pleasant alternative to more strenuous work that could mean tedium for the better part of the day. It was in the last 100 years that the field of ergonomics emerged focusing on the identifying musculoskeletal disorders. What began as the mission to “fit the task to the worker” has expanded to include environmental ergonomics. In addition to the considerations applied to the physical layout of the workstation, cubicle or pod in which employees spend their whole work day, there are the principles of climate, lighting and noise to consider. This article will focus primarily on how the temperature and air quality in the building can affect employee performance.
Indoor Air Climate
It is understood by office managers that people are most productive in their work when they are comfortable within the climate inside the building. This is a seemingly non-tangible element that can either produce a positive or negative effect. To gain a proper understanding, it helps to realize that the indoor climate that you perceive is comprised of three main conditions: Temperature, air movement and air humidity. Each of these needs careful adjustment to produce the most optimal air quality for the working environment. Maintaining this level of comfort will increase employee productivity.
At the Center of Good Indoor Air Quality Is the Air Conditioning
Considering the weather outside, you need to understand that the seasons will impact the perceived temperature indoors. While the most acceptable range of between 68 and 75 degrees is generally preferred, the contrasting temperature outside will play a contributing role. For example, setting the air conditioning temperature as low as 68 degrees in the summer can present a stark contrast to the outdoor temperature and cause occupants to feel uncomfortably chilly just as setting the thermostat to 75 degrees in winter can produce the opposite effect.
It has been tested and shown that right around 73 degrees, the majority of people feel the most comfortable. However, another consideration is the size of your office. This could call for a bit of experimenting until you arrive at the generally acceptable temperature preferred by most of the employees. You may face some difficulty in controlling this search if your thermostat is accessible to anyone who tends to have more extreme sensitivity to the indoor temperature. You could find that you are unable to zero in on the “Goldilocks” temperature zone if others are fiddling with the setting.
Humidity presents another aspect of a comfortable indoor temperature. If the air is too dry, it can dry out mucous membranes, which can leave individuals susceptible to illness. Too humid, and people will perceive the temperature is too hot. While you have less control over the humidity levels in the air, it is an easy measure you can take into consideration.
Careful adjustment to the air conditioning system can help. It is suggested that the wintertime humidity be kept above 30 percent while the summertime range be set between 40 and 60 percent. If your HVAC system does not allow for this setting to be adjusted, you can investigate getting a humidifier or dehumidifier for the office. This can be a cost-effective alternative that allows you to better maintain both the comfort and productivity of your staff.
Finally, air movement tends to be minimal in the office setting unless people are positioned within the path of vents or open windows, although the latter is not typical in most air-tight office settings. Officially, maintaining the drafts below 0.2m/s produces the equivalent of a light flowing breeze, but where ever in the office the air movement is otherwise affected, this could easily be exceeded. This brings you back to the office layout and accounting for where the vents are located relative to where employees’ workstations are located.
Research has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that optimal indoor air quality management within the building can improve productivity in addition to decreasing expressed dissatisfaction on the part of visitors. Regular maintenance performed on your HVAC system can help you keep these delicate settings under control and prevent the tiredness, lack of focus and loss of concentration that all contribute to the inability to get any work done.