How regularly do you consider your physical work environment? The way it affects your sense of personal satisfaction? Work ethic? Productivity?
Let’s try it. Stop whatever you’re doing (except reading this post, of course). What is the very first thing you notice? Is it the noise level? The brightness of the fluorescents above your work station?
Well, according to the IFMA, it’s probably the temperature.
Recently we uncovered that temperature is the number one complaint of office workers about their workplace environment. And it’s really no wonder when you consider that 40% of office buildings–especially here in New York City–have HVAC systems that are anywhere from 16 to 30 years old. Yet, most modern offices have a one-size-fits-all design that can’t possibly accommodate all of the variables associated with the age and condition of the system.
Essentially these systems were never designed for their current use. It isn’t surprising then that half the office is wearing mittens to work (which makes typing awfully hard) and the other half is in swimsuits (which makes replacing the toner just plain awkward).
The bottom line is, no matter what your job may be, there is an optimal temperature which makes you calmer, more at ease and generally more satisfied. However, it’s not just comfort levels that can be affected when the atmosphere is too warm or too chilly. Maintaining proper AC and heating for employee comfort can ultimately impact a company’s bottom line, which is of special importance to business owners and property managers. Those that want to keep their tenants need to make sure a building’s occupants are comfortable with the right temperature throughout all seasons of the year. Here’s why:
1. Productivity plummets when employees are too cold.
According to a 2013 report from Men’s Health magazine, citing the results of a study conducted by Northumbria University, warmer temperatures resulted in higher levels of employee efficiency, especially in the afternoon when post-lunch drowsiness sets in. At the same time, too low office temperatures also cause more employee errors, such as inaccuracies in data entry and word processing.
2. Proper AC and heating for employee comfort also affects creativity.
Whether the temperature is too warm or too cold, the brain is focusing on the discomfort rather than on important projects, which can have an enormous impact on workers in certain industries. Employees in fields such as interior design, advertising, graphic arts, movie production, and other creative pursuits will have a difficult time concentrating when they’re more concerned with staying warm or fanning themselves to cool off.
3. Job satisfaction is a key factor in retaining employees, and it encompasses everything from salary to benefits to work environment.
Failure to maintain proper AC and heating for employee comfort can result in lower job satisfaction, which in turn affects an employee’s work performance. The American Society of Interior Design conducted a study which showed that the workplace environment was a key factor in recruiting and maintaining qualified employees.
Specifically, 41% of employees would accept a position based upon the atmosphere, and 51% would consider leaving a company if the environment wasn’t acceptable. Proper temperatures are as much a part of the physical work space as aesthetics and furniture, so it’s important that companies appropriately maintain their HVAC systems.
4. Proper AC and heating for employee comfort also provides a basis for connection between employers and their work force.
When a manager shows concern for an employee’s wellbeing and comfort level, she also reinforces the psychosocial bond that is equally required to maintain a satisfactory work environment.
If the temperature extremes in your office or building have got you feeling steamed up (sorry, we couldn’t resist), there are often simple fixes that can make a huge difference. For more information about temperature variation and what you can do to fix it, download our white paper on Improving and Imperfect World: Mitigating Office Temperature Extremes.